May 22, 2024
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May 22, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Recently walking the aisles in Trader Joe’s we realized that the experience we were having was enhanced by the music that was being played over the store’s sound system. It was indeed a rare occurrence to know all of the tunes that were being played. (No, they were not winter holiday songs.) It made our shopping experience that much more pleasant as we walked along to Dean Martin singing “That’s Amore” followed by Doris Day singing “Que Sera Sera” and all kinds of other songs that we used to know so well. We sang along and felt uplifted.

It reminded us of what was told to us when one of our children attended a reunion concert at Carnegie Hall of The Rabbi’s Sons. (For those not familiar with the group, we would suggest you Google it.) Apparently it was a rainy and not pleasant night but, according to our children, it did not stop the “older” people from standing outside Carnegie Hall after the concert singing Hallelu as if the moon and stars were shining down on them. No one was deterred by the inclement weather. It was the beauty of the moment of remembering the good old days and the good old tunes. As we write this we are humming once again.

Really dating ourselves, we remember when we would get off the buses from YU seminar and trek down to Schmulka Bernstein’s. We danced on Essex Street in front of the store. Nothing embarrassed us or made us feel as though the world did not completely belong to us. The ruach from a week inspired by teenagers from all over, madrichim who projected great examples of who we would want to become and rebbeim who gave their hearts and souls to shine the beauty of Yiddishkeit on the participants was enough for all of us to reach for the moon. It was a time when the future only shone.

Thinking about those days reminds us of the stories about Yolande Benson, a young lady who tragically was killed in a horrific bus accident while returning from the Broadway play JB (the story of Job) with her Vassar classmates. Yolanda had regained her life after her Holocaust survivor parents retrieved her from the non-Jewish family that had protected her and raised her as a Catholic. Today, an honor society exists memorializing her brave return to Yiddishkeit. Those of us who experienced her story will never forget it.

We remember, too, our “oldie but goodie” friends who we sometimes do not see for years; upon reconnecting, those years dissipate within moments. There is something about an old friendship that ties people together. Just this evening we had the opportunity to spend time with friends who we had not seen in many years. There was nothing awkward or uncomfortable in our reunion. Suddenly there were no years between us. It is the miracle of memories and caring and laughing and sadness that bind us together. It is difficult to recreate friendships that can compare to those from years ago. There is no pretense, no falseness, nor is there any competitiveness. We knew them and they knew us. Seeing each other once again ignited the intensity of the way things used to be and the desire to recreate the spark.

Not only are we now singing the old tunes, but we are smiling from the old jokes, the old familiarity and the comfort of remembering how great things used to be without feeling as though what was in the past should stay in the past. Perhaps it is time to bring some of the past back into our future.

By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick

 

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