Thursday, March 23, 2017

The fast


“Did someone drop the Torah?” I whispered nervously to the woman sitting next to me in the synagogue.

“I hope not,” she answered.

Everyone knows that if one witnesses a Torah scroll hitting the ground they should fast. We’d just ended Ta’anit* Esther less than forty hours earlier. No one wanted to refrain from eating from sunrise to sunset again. But what was that boom?

Thursday, March 16, 2017

Circle of Time

Twenty-six years have passed since She hurt my feelings. Twenty-six years for me to come to the understanding that She hadn’t mean to be mean. To know that if She’d had an inkling of how badly She’d made me feel She’d be horrified, ashamed, and quick to apologize.

Thursday, March 9, 2017

We Can Make it Happen

After more than forty years of marriage I thought I knew everything there was to know about my husband. I was wrong. This week I heard the story of how someone had thrown a rock through the window of his synagogue in Chicago on Purim night back when he was a teenager. The shul had been packed and the rabbi stood up and told the congregation not to worry. He assured them that everything was under a control. Looking backwards my husband wondered how the rabbi could have said such a thing. What if that rock had been a bomb? Now, of course, we know it wasn’t, but it clearly was an act of anti-Semitism.

Growing up my experience with anti-Semitism was far more benign. I had a seventh grade teacher who treated me unfairly but to this day I’m not sure if that had anything to do with the fact that I was Jewish or she just didn’t like me. In eighth grade a boy in my class made a disparaging comment about a “Jew-joint” and another classmate turned red and did her best to shut him up. He was totally oblivious to the fact his comment was offensive. Once working in my father’s store a potential costumer asked me if he could Jew me down. I just giggled in embarrassment. A friend had a similar experience and handled it much better. He looked the man in the eye and calmly stated, “You don’t need to do that. I’m already Jewish.”

Thursday, March 2, 2017

Good will Conquer Evil

Jews fleeing Nazi Europe were forced to leave many cherished possessions behind. Probably their hardest loss was abandoning their dead. They knew their chances of ever visiting their loved ones’ graves again were slim at best. My father’s experience was an exception.

Thursday, February 23, 2017

False Prophets

Last week harsh weather was predicted. The forecasts varied from one meteorologist to another but they all seemed to agree that we’d be getting sleet and/or snow. Perhaps it would begin Wednesday in the afternoon or maybe in the evening but certainly on Thursday there would be a serious storm.

Just hearing the word snow sends me into an emotional state. Half of me, I’m not sure whether it’s the left or the right half, is intrigued by the thought of a snow day. In Israel all it takes is a couple of millimeters to shut down the roads. Then we’re forced to take a day off. That can be really enjoyable if the electricity holds. The electricity issue is what caused the other half of me to stress out.

Friday, February 17, 2017

Circle of Love

My daughter was crying when she called me almost a year ago. “Avinoam got his diagnosis. Now we know why he’s been dropping things and shaking and falling. He has ALS.”

ALS, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, causes the death of neurons controlling muscles and leads to difficulty in speaking, swallowing, and eventually breathing. I’d seen The Pride of the Yankees* and read Tuesdays with Morrie. Like my daughter, I understood that the prognosis for her husband’s friend wasn’t pretty.

Thursday, February 9, 2017

How Did the Manna Taste?

My father was about as old as I am now when my son asked him this question. His mouth opened wide in astonishment.

“How old do you think I am? You think I was alive when the Children of Israel wandered in the desert?”

“No,” my son was quite matter-of-fact. “But there was manna in the Holy Temple.”