view from central park

Short stories, big inspirations


I’m old school. My social media is limited. I’m on Facebook, but I’m not that active. While I have met some interesting people on Facebook, it is rare for me to really follow anyone. I do my socializing face-to-face.

One harmless surprise of social media has been video clips. At first, I found them annoying and a waste of time, but every once in a while I stumble upon a gem. Once there were short stories. These days, the brief video is that platform.

This week, I’ve seen quite a few powerful clips. There was the one about a musician who has devoted his retirement to playing classical music in elephant sanctuaries. He plays for elephants who were abused in circuses and tries to bring them a sense of calm. There was a sweet clip of two siblings playing basketball. The older, age three or four, helped his toddler sibling get a ball into the hoop.

Since it was International Holocaust Memorial Day, I encountered quite a few Holocaust videos, stories summing up the resilience of survivors.

There was the juxtaposed photo of a young IDF soldier on the left, and on the right a concentration camp victim. A grandchild in IDF uniform alongside his survivor grandparents.

Another showed iconic black-and-white World War II photos, recolored. I think this is powerful, for these people did not live their lives in black-and-white, in one dimension.

While normally I would be a stickler for black-and-white classics remaining in their original splendor, I thought this approach, bringing color and dimension to real-life stories and tragedies, has merit.

There were a couple more videos I came across. One was about Yehoshua Hershkowitz, an elderly Brooklyn Jew who recently passed away. He spent his life feeding the poor. Another was about a Jewish Good Samaritan who was relaxing at the beach when he saw a surfer crash into the boulders. He immediately ran to hold the surfer’s head above water, and valiantly stayed there for 30 minutes until emergency help arrived. No one knows who the mystery man is. He was seen walking away from the scene with his hand over his head, replacing the kippah he lost in the water.

But one video that stands out to me is from a few months back. It’s called “The Line Rider’s Beethoven’s 5th,” produced by someone named DoodleChaos. Trust me, it’s worth your four minutes and 25 seconds.

This clip is an engineering feat. From a few lines that become the outlines of two bikers and a road, brilliantly animated to Beethoven’s 5th, this is storytelling at its finest.

In a few minutes an epic journey is conveyed, with depth of emotion but without a word uttered — without any actual image or facial features but figures animated from lines on a keyboard. Whoever DoodleChaos is, he’s a master storyteller and a digital genius. The clip is a fusion of thoughtful film and classical music, the story of the little digital bikers laced with a true sense of loss, joy and meaning, defined with profundity and vulnerability. By the end of the four minutes, you might shed a tear.

Social media is good for more than just socializing and networking. It’s good for bursts of inspiration and feel-good videos you can always count on.

Copyright Intermountain Jewish News