Notre Dame touched quite a few


To the editor:

All people should be saddened by the burning of the Cathedral of Notre Dame de Paris. Not just Christians, but also Jews, Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, atheists, agnostics, etc.

This early medieval masterpiece was named after a woman who was supposed the mother of one of the most famous moral philosophers who ever lived, a Jew named Joshua, also known as Jesus.

His mother’s name in Hebrew was Miriam. She is known in English as Mary. Muslims call her Maryam, from the Aramaic, and regard Jesus as one of the prophets.

I once walked in this building alone and was a bit overwhelmed, but I was lucky to trail on to an Israeli tourist group with an English-speaking guide.

It brought back memories of the 1939 movie of Victor Hugo’s “The Hunchback of Notre Dame.”

Two of the film’s main characters were social outcasts — the hunchback Quasimodo, and the Gypsy girl Esmeralda.

I have seen it several times. The climactic scene is when Esmeralda is about to be burned at the stake in the adjoining plaza for heresy and witchcraft. Quasimodo becomes her savior when he swoops down from the church on a rope a la Tarzan, sweeps her into his grip, and swings back up to the building, crying “sanctuary, sanctuary.”

I regret that the message of this scene — which also is the message of the Emma Lazarus poem on the Statue of Liberty — seems to have been forgotten by those who won’t let Central American refugees even apply for sanctuary.

Alan Saks

Alan Saks,