Rivkah and I went to the NM History Museum in December to see the “Fractured Faiths” exhibit before it closed. I found it interesting, and thought that the impression given was one of hiding and loss: people hiding their Judaism, and the loss of a culture that was once so vibrant. As we left the exhibit, we noticed that next door in the museum there was an exhibit on low riders, which we also walked through, called, “Low Riders, Hoppers, and Hot Rods: Car Culture of Northern New Mexico.” The cars and pictures were quite impressive. For the most part they were spotless and perfect.
I couldn’t help but notice the contrast between these two exhibits. “Fractured Faiths,” by its very nature, was an exhibit that emphasized seclusion and concealment, traits necessary for the Jews to adopt for their survival in the Spain of the Inquisition: “flying low,” if you will. If a person’s true faith were to be revealed, he or she could be killed. Occasionally, even baseless accusations could prove extremely dangerous. The low rider exhibit, in stark contrast, is a celebration of the openness of life and the ability to publicly express oneself in an artistic, elaborate, even flamboyant manner. A low rider has no reason to hide, as opposed to a person from a “Fractured Faith” who must live in the dark.
It struck me that an interesting comparison was highlighted by the proximity of these two exhibits, both with features that are uniquely New Mexican. On the one hand, a desire or need to remain unseen, with a hope that there is no recognition of one’s identity; on the other hand, a blunt, in-your-face, unapologetic openness.
May we always make the correct decision about when to be public with our deeds and when to be private. But may we all be blessed that all our actions, from the lowest to the most elevated, are those of righteousness.