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Snow In August

            Understanding between two cultures isn't something that comes easily. More often than not, mutual fear and distrust prevent any semblance of peaceful coexistence from ever occurring. However, if someone has the courage to step forward and extend a hand in faith, another's hand may tentatively grasp it in return. If such an event can occur, the possibility exists that two people from completely alien backgrounds can rise above their differences and walk together upon the path of peace. This kind of miracle takes a conviction that can disregard past prejudices, and step beyond apprehension for the sake of harmony. In Pete Hamill's Snow in August, that faith is found in the unique relationship between a young Catholic and an old Rabbi.
             In the year 1947, Michael Devlin, an eleven year-old Irish-Catholic boy growing up in the streets of Brooklyn, witnesses an event that brings about both turbulence and change in his relatively simple life. Before his eyes, a Jewish shopkeeper known as Mr. G. is brutally beaten and hospitalized by a teenage punk/gang-leader named Frankie McCarthy. He does nothing, and says nothing to the police when they make a cursory investigation. Succumbing to the pressures of his Irish-Catholic culture, he maintains his silence, despite his wish to do the right thing. On his way to Saturday Mass, to perform his duties as an altar boy, Michael is sidetracked by a faint voice seasoned with the thick accent of central Europe: "Hallo please please to come over I need a help." Pulse racing, he is reminded of all the horrible things he has overheard on the streets about Jews like the Rabbi standing across the road. "Please." The word is colored with the tone of genuine distress, and he tentatively steps forward to help the man. After completing the minor task of switching the light on, a task forbidden to Jews on Sabbath, Michael is sent on his way five cents richer, and less deluded by the prejudices he has developed through his peers.

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