Monica Rozenfeld moves to Brooklyn with two roommates — a Catholic and an observant Jew — and they each seek understanding of what it means to be religious.
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The vintage charm
I met a man this weekend at the Fort Greene Flea Market who explained everything to me, everything.
“With vintage, there is an imperfection,” he said. “They want the mirror that has a scar.”
In his retro sunglasses and what appeared to be fisherman suit, he told me the Chinese proverb: You’re not a human being until you take care of another human being.
He said this very much applies to people who take care of things too; people who want to preserve a certain quality to the items they possess, who hold onto the intrinsic value of that object. This man sells what he calls “objects of the past” and asks “What’s the fascination with new?”
So isn’t that why we’re here at Busted Halo? Aren’t we looking for that thing in life that has intrinsic value, aren’t we looking for something we care for and believe in enough that we want to preserve it? Doesn’t that explain religion a whole lot?
The rusted pages and the aged smell of a Torah from another generation will never compare to the latest books at Barnes & Noble. Neither will the findings of new science. It’s not the facts I’m looking to hold onto, but the feeling of that mystery and the questions of the universe my ancestors respected and that I choose to carry forward. It’s a thread into the past. The stories have a scar, an imperfection. But it has a history and meaning that will never leave me when and because something “new” has come along.
After meeting this eccentric man who calls himself “hardcore vintage,” I all of a sudden realized why I connect so much to worn items – old typewriters, classic jewelry, magazines published before my time – and that’s because they each have a story inside them that says something about the world, once upon a time, to someone. And by buying it, and reusing it for another purpose, we keep that truth alive in many ways.
That is how I see Judaism, religion and the Book of Life. I may not relive its exact existence, but I hold onto it, I take it with me in my own way, and still, very much so, keep the story moving along until someone else takes it with them afterward.
Is Judaism, and other religions, a piece of the vintage charm? Can we reuse it and make it our own, scars and all, and still hold onto the very core of its existence?