“And just as he [the Jew] otherwise—as in business—always has only the numerical, the credit and debit calculation before his eyes, so it must be designated as a typically racial characteristic even in physics that he places mathematical formulation in the foreground.”
–Alfons Buhl, 1935
”Jewish physics is a deception.”
–Philipp Lenard, 1936
It was a normal Shabbos morning, and the children of Temple B’nai Israel were sitting, as was customary, in the balcony of the sanctuary. Though not a particularly pious location, the balcony was ideal for the group of boys nearing Bar Mitzvah age, who in their selection of a space for sacred devotion were less concerned with the range of God’s ear than of the range of the adults’. While perhaps it was impossible to escape the eye of the Almighty, it was indeed possible to avoid the Rabbi’s.
Conducting, then, what they thought of liberally as their own service, the boys were interrupted by an peculiar arrival in the doorway. There stood their classmate Albert Einstein, sweating noticeably, and with the kind of glow in his eyes which the boys did not often see in shul. “Albie,” cried Duvid Blott, one of the leaders of the group, “what’s wrong?”
The budding young scientist took a moment to catch his breath. “My friends,” he said, “I’ve come upon a new conception of physics, an extraordinary new understanding of the ways of our universe!”
The announcement produced a flurry of reaction, enough to win stern looks from some of the elders in prayer below. Several of the boys cupped their hands over their mouths. Harvey Krechtzer’s glasses fell off of his head. Perhaps too late, Ira Zistmann had to excuse himself to the bathroom. “You see,” Albert continued, “my discovery will change the value of space and time!”
The commotion intensified. Few were able to remain calm. Benefitting from a few moments of reflection, Meier Fisch finally formed the first cogent response. “This is incredible,” he whispered, “Does it mean that someday we might travel to the stars?”
For several moments Albie surveyed all the eager faces. Now a prophet, he was conscious of the power he held over them, and, savoring it, he offered his response:
”Even better,” he said, “It’ll shave an hour off of musaf!”
ALLON BRANN is a Columbia College junior majoring in History.
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