Adapt, that was the key word. It meant survival, yes, that was Poppa’s point of emphasis. From generation to generation, do not let the light go out. But rooted in that word, that concept, was also the concept of change. The Judaism of his youth, from the north side of Chicago — that was not the Judaism he had found in Missouri, was not the Judaism of his friends from Israel, was not the Judaism of the small community he visited during High Holy Days.
It wasn’t just religion, although he had begun to realize that being a good Jew mattered more to him than he would have cared to admit even a few years ago. Sh’ma Yisrael, Adonai Eloheinu, Adonai Echad. But there was more — politics, music, art. Fencing.
Dan picked up the fencing glove, left lazily on his bed. He realized he had been attempting all his adult life to be the same person he had been in his youth, had been determined to hold on to what mattered most to him. And those aspects of him could survive, yes — but only if he changed, adapted to his surroundings. He could live in Bark Bay, could still be a Jew, a teacher, a fencing coach — but not the same Jew, the same intellect, the same fencer, he had been in his youth.
He put down the fencing glove, back on the bed near where it lay before, and walked back into the living room of his apartment. He looked at the telephone, inert on the table, a silent portal to different worlds. If he waited long enough Colleen would call again, demanding an answer to the job opening she had arranged on his behalf.
We’re either running from something, or running to something.
Dan Jacobs, English instructor at Bark Bay High School, coach of the Bark Bay fencing team — Coach Dan picked up the telephone, pushed a button until Colleen’s number displayed on the small screen, pressed Talk. He held the receiver to his ear, heard the distant ringing on the other end. A moment later Colleen would answer, and thought he did not use the exact words, he would tell her that, for now anyway, he was determined to remain still.
End of “Coach Dan’s Tale”