July 22, 2016
Rabbi Samuel M. Cohon
This has been a busy three weeks in the news, domestically and abroad, and in the course of it my wife Wendy and I went on vacation to France. We did this only partly to escape the bombastic noise of the US presidential election. In any case, we were in Paris for Bastille Day, the French national holiday, and on the morning of July 14th the newspaper headlines highlighted a scandal involving French President Francoise Hollande. He is accused of employing a hairdresser to cut and style his hair at the cost to the French treasury of over 9,000 euros a month, roughly $10,000, as much as a cabinet minister makes. Hollande is a Socialist, who became president in part by claiming he would make the job more normal and less imperial. Apparently his hair was not covered by that campaign promise. This he has in common with other leading world figures, I believe.
By the end of the night the news cycle had changed dramatically. We went to see the fireworks show at the Eiffel Tower celebrating Bastille Day, and it was a great show indeed, wonderful pinwheels of fire and color all up and down the famous landmark, carefully coordinated with thematic music. There were many thousands of thrilled spectators, mostly French, and large numbers of heavily armed French troops and police controlling the area. But when we returned to our hotel room we learned of the horrific attack on the Bastille Day celebrations in Nice, the murder of 84 people, including many children, with over 200 more innocent people wounded. And shortly after the events, and a bit after midnight in Paris, there was Francoise Holland on the TV news in a suit, speaking movingly about how terrorism would not defeat France, "France is afflicted, but she is strong, and she will always be stronger than the fanatics who want to strike her today," and emphasizing that Bastille Day celebrated France’s dedication to liberty and freedom.
His hair looked perfect…