When Karen and I started Seraphic Secret, our single thought was that this blog would serve as a public voice allowing us to reflect on the life of our beloved son, Ariel Chaim. But human nature and the web have a way of altering plans.
Soon, I found myself writing about my novel, The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden, and telling my readers about Seraphic Press, the publishing house Karen and I founded in Ariel’s memory.
Inevitably, I wrote about politics, an abiding passion, and I came out of the closet — as a Conservative Republican. No small matter in Hollywood, a town and industry that genuflects to the most radical elements of the Democratic Party.
Believe me, if I confessed to being a sexual deviant, a drug addict, a drug addict and a sexual deviant, well, Hollywood will embrace you. But admit that your politics are conservative, that you support the state of Israel, that you actually believe that radical Islam is a greater threat to world security than, oh let’s say, President Bush, or Prime Minister Sharon, admit that you own a gun, are a proud member of the NRA, admit that you oppose homosexual marriage, admit that you’re not alarmed by so-called global warming, and God forbid warn that the most intense anti-Semitism in America comes from our African American neighbors; well admit all this in Hollywood and you might as well cut your throat two ways at once. These oh-so-tolerant liberals are the most intolerant group you could ever imagine.
And so Seraphic Secret has grown tentacles. Intense cyber relationships have been formed.
Toronto Pearl, one of my earliest and most generous readers made the trip from Canada to attend The Ariel Avrech Memorial Lecture. You would assume that our initial face-to-face encounter would be awkward, maybe even a bit weird. But it was no such thing. It was a meeting of old friends who could practically read each other’s thoughts. Pearl ate every Shabbos meal with our family, she shmoozed with us and fit in like, well, like a member of the family.
Randi W, a more recent reader and commenter, drove from Chatsworth to attend the Memorial Lecture. Meeting Randi and her lovely mother was pure delight. I marvel at her generosity and her courage in showing up at an Orthodox shul for Randi just recently told me that she is, gasp, Reformed.
“There, I’ve said it,” she wrote, as if finally confessing some hideous family secret.
“Not to worry,” I wrote back, “I’m really not some ogre in a black hat.”
And just this morning I learned that Michael G. a Seraphic Secret reader was sitting shiva for his father. I got hold of his cell number and called, paying a cyber shiva visit. When I introduced myself there was a long silence.
“Seraphic Secret,” I said.
“Ooooh, Robert, Seraphic Secret!”
And then we talked, intimate friends connecting. Michael shared his grief with me, but went out of his way not to compare the loss of a father to a father’s loss of a son. Clearly, this is an acutely sensitive and articulate man, even in grief.
Another reader, Karen S. from Montana, recently sent me her wedding pictures, also photos of her lovely house nestled in a bucolic mountain. She treated me to an informal but gripping account of how she and her family, hugely proud Jews, ended up in Montana, not quite the epicenter of Jewish American life. I am amazed by the geographical quirks of the Jewish people.
Yes, friendships have flourished. Our lives are enriched; and always the lovely and generous comments about Ariel give us some measure of comfort. Karen and I are eternally grateful; for comfort is in short supply when a beloved child lies beneath the cruel earth.