Lady Black at Holy Blossom Temple

Wanda and I attended a lecture by Lady Black of Crossharbour (Mrs. Barbara Amiel Black) last night at Holy Blossom Temple, which later turned out to be something of a mistake.  The temple had a capacity crowd, and we were fortunate to gain seats in the sanctuary by virtue of being a member / friend.  Also in the crowd was husband Lord Black, sponsor Mrs. Heather Reisman, and two rows ahead of me, someone who looked an awful lot like the Hon. Hilary M. Weston, CM, OOnt, former Lieutenant-Governor of Ontario.

Lady Black was introduced by producer Mr. Robert Lantos, who gave a touching account of her admirable qualities — quite contradictory to the scheming "Cruella de Vil" treatment in a recent biography.  Mr. Lantos did not seem to enjoy public speaking in front of so large a crowd and his manner was occasionally awkward, but there was no mistaking the sincerity of his esteem for the keynote speaker.  She had defended the producer and some of his controversial movies in her journalistic endeavours, and I think this was his way of defending her from the latest attacks by her detractors.

Lady Black herself defies description.  Although sixty-six years old, she looks decades younger.  She has an excellent speaking voice, precise diction and a delightful English accent — highly reminiscent of Dame Julie Andrews.  One half-expects that at any moment she will break out into a rousing rendition of My Favourite Things with the von Trapp children.

Unfortunately I did not pay as close attention to her lecture as I would have liked.  The dehydration caught up with me halfway through the evening and I had to depart the sanctuary lest I suffer the indignity of passing out or tossing my cookies 1) in a house of worship; 2) in front of life peers Lord and Lady Black; and 3) in front of a former representative of the Sovereign.  I am grateful to usher Jeff and doctor Abe of Holy Blossom for responding so quickly.

What I do recall of the lecture was that Lady Black spoke at length about the survival of Israel and its rationale — a topic largely reprised from her own Daily Telegraph column which I can only find reproduced on the net here.  It is worth the read if you can get by the awkward centre-aligned formatting.

As a fellow who grew up surrounded by Jews, went to high school that closed on Jewish holy days, and whose adolescent friends were predominantly Jews, I am not exactly an impartial judge.  Quite a few of my high school contemporaries had served a portion of their compulsory military service, or were in Canada because their parents could no longer tolerate the risks of such service.  I spent a lot of time at friends’ households, learning about shabbat customs through example and participation.  I have a great deal of affection for adherents of the Jewish faith because they have often been, quietly and inconspicuously, the best exemplars of Judæo-Christian charity and selflessness.

This is not, I realise, an adequate argument for a secular Jewish state ensconced in its ancestral Middle Eastern geography.  I do, however, think that there is something to Lady Black’s argument that without the possibility of Israel, certain elements of the Jewish faith become reduced to an empty shell.

Category: Pro Victoria
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