Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Elul Project - Walking - A Memory of My Dad

For the past several years my Rabbi (Ben Goldstein - Temple Beth-El Mekor Chayim) has asked congregants to contribute essays to an Elul Project as a way of preparing for the High Holy Days. A booklet is compiled, and shared with the congregation on Rosh Hashanah. I finally broke down and wrote one this year. My resolution is to not let it be another year before I contribute to this blog again.

Elul Project 2014
Aaron Cohen
September 4, 2014

Walking to synagogue on the High Holidays.
Walking to synagogue on the High Holidays, with my daddy.
I must have been three and a half. My baby brother had been born in March and would come to synagogue later with Mom, but Dad would leave earlier and walk the three tenths of a mile to Temple Israel Center in White Plains, NY. I was deemed “big” enough to walk with him, and sit with him in services until babysitting started.
After breakfast Mom dressed me in my shul clothes. It had to be after breakfast because we didn’t want to spill on new clothes. I don’t remember much about the outfit except that the good gray wool pants seemed terribly scratchy, and I got to wear a clip-on tie. Then we walked up to Old Mamaroneck Road, and over to the Temple. We passed houses, and woods that would become houses in later years.
When we got to the Temple we entered through the doors by the chapel, and went up a half flight of stairs to a landing where Dad picked up a small envelope from a table with hundreds of seemingly identical small envelopes. This envelope contained two tickets on the center aisle in row HH. Then up another half flight to the sanctuary. Dad sat on the aisle—the same seat he would occupy on the high holidays for the next 39 years. I sat in my Mom’s seat, and politely said hello to the people in the neighboring seats who had held that real estate for many years. I don’t actually remember being polite, but I know that Dad would have it no other way.
Grandma Madeline showed up shortly after we got there. She had the next two seats in the aisle. One for her, and one that Grandpa Ben used to sit in, but would go unoccupied for the first time this year. I’m pretty sure Grandma Sadye sat there on the second day of Rosh Hashanah. She was a member of the Hebrew Institute on Greenridge Avenue, but her son and grandchildren were here.
When Mom and Larry arrived I went to babysitting. It was comfortable and familiar; held in the room where I went to nursery school, but different because Mrs. Marish wasn’t there.
Three times a year for the next ten years I walked to shul with my daddy on the high holidays. We then moved too far away to walk, something that I didn’t think about at the time.
I miss it.
Walking to synagogue on the high holidays.
Walking to synagogue on the high holidays, holding my daddy’s hand.
Maybe he carried me part of the way. Maybe he still does.