Thursday, October 10, 2013

Ashkenazi Hair

Before a communications team meeting yesterday, a copy of Margalit Fox's newest book was making its way around the table in anticipation of her visit today as our "Lunch and Learn" speaker.

After thumbing through the book, I flipped to her bio on the inside back cover of the dust jacket.  Seeing the picture that accompanies the bio, I quipped to a colleague, "Gee, I wonder where she gets her hair cut."

Imagine my delight, then, when, in her opening sentence this afternoon, Ms. Fox noted how nice it was to be at the URJ, together with so many others with "Ashkenazi hair."

From that moment on, she held me--and plenty of others--spellbound as she eloquently and engagingly discussed the business of obituary writing, criteria for inclusion of an individual in the Times' obituary pages, and a few of the unsung heroes whose obituaries she and her colleagues have been privileged to write:  Ruth M. Siems, Ruth Benerito and Edward Lowe.

Sticking with the theme of unsung heroes and heroines, Ms. Fox introduced us to Alice Kober, the unsung heroine in her latest book, The Riddle of the Labyrinth:  The Quest to Crack an Ancient Code.  Along the way, we learned, too, about the archeologist Arthur Evans and the architect Michael Ventris, the two men whose lives, together with that of Ms. Kober, give the book its triptych structure.

All too soon, the lunch hour was over and people reluctantly returned to their desks.  I hung back, waiting in line to have my new book inscribed. As I stood facing the author, I told her of the previous day's quip to my colleague. While she inscribed my book, Ms. Fox and I spoke briefly about our Ashkenazi hair, agreeing, as so many other "curly girls" have noted, "It's all about the product."

Only when I returned to my desk did I read her truly personal and treasured inscription:
To Jane,
With all best tonsorial wishes.
Margalit Fox