To the editor: As a person of faith, an intrepid traveler and a student of history and architecture, I was traumatized watching the Notre Dame Cathedral in Paris burn. It evoked images of buildings on fire that remain, devastatingly, in the Jewish consciousness.
All good people must weep when cathedrals of spirituality and religious history are destroyed, whether by terror or by accident.
But, as donations followed declarations in the push to rebuild, I was bothered and buoyed by two different musings.
First, how strange and perhaps awful that financial contributions flow more quickly to restore a building’s glory than to restore a city’s water (Flint, Mich.) or children’s full bellies (any number of underfunded projects to defeat hunger).
Second, paraphrasing the great Rabbi Abraham Joshua Heschel, our greatest cathedrals are not in space, but in time. Our work should be to transcend architecture and make time, relationships and moments holier than any building could ever be.
Rabbi Adam Kligfeld, Los Angeles
To the editor: The Notre Dame fire brought out the contrast between the patient humility of the cathedral’s original builders and the hubris of modern man.
The cathedral should make us humbled before the achievements of our ancestors of the so-called Dark Ages, both technologically and aesthetically. Instead, French President Emmanuel Macron boasts, “We will rebuild Notre Dame, more beautiful than before — and I want it done in the next five years.”
A cathedral can’t be built in a day. It is built of humility before the divine and time is not of its essence.
Carolyn Kunin, Pasadena
To the editor: Since the massive wood beams used in Notre Dame’s original construction are no longer available, why not rebuild using beams fabricated from recycled plastics?
This could show future generations how 21st century technology can be used to build long-lasting structures, and at the same time call attention to the world’s plastic pollution problems.
Larry Kurens, Santa Monica