All in a day’s work? I hope not.
Normally, the Jewish community’s Walk for Israel would energize my Sunday. It is critical for both Jews and non-Jews in Denver to see that the Jewish community is passionate about Israel.
“Community” is not just one’s friends; it is standing for Israel together with people one doesn’t know.
Not this year.
For starters, the last three months of Sundays have been devoted to the 100th-anniversary large-size, commemorative magazine of the Intermountain Jewish News, due out June 24. By the time you read this, some 90 pages will have gone to press.
Why so soon in advance? Mainly, because of the time it takes to bind and to mail it. There’s only a couple of places in the country that will bind a magazine this big.
Long story short: Every manner of simcha, relaxation, diversion and family visit has been pushed off due to the demands of this magazine.
Not this Sunday.
True enough, the day began in the office, with final proofing and tweaking.
Ah, but what a nice prospect: a wedding at 1 p.m.
Add in: My Mom’s 97th birthday party later in the day.
Plus, the 125th anniversary dinner of Zera Abraham.
And, I learn Sunday morning, a funeral at 6:30 p.m. for a young man, deceased at age 19. The son of friends and a former schoolmate of our son.
You read about this in the rabbinic memoirs: When it’s necessary to perform a wedding and funeral on the same day.
Well, I didn’t have to perform either, but the required emotional dexterity and inevitable emotional pain is hardly resolved thereby.
So, we’re running from the office to the wedding . . . and notice that the crowd at the Walk for Israel outside the JCC seems to be filling nicely. Thank G-d.
But I can’t be in two places at once.
On to the wedding.
The groom overcame major health challenges.
A very special simcha.
(Not to mention the typical, Jewish, small-world mosaic: the mother of the bride is married to the father of my cousin; the mother of the groom is a former colleague at the board of the Mikveh of East Denver; the grandparents of the groom sit next to me in shul — when I’m in my regular shul. As if in anticipation of a kaleidoscopic Sunday, I prayed Shabbos morning with the new, Persian-founded Sephardi minyan.)
The stay at the wedding is, of necessity, truncated, due to the press deadlines.
Back to the office.
On to Mom at 4:15 p.m. A 97th birthday! What a blessing — even more, many of the children and grandchildren gather around.
Enter Dan Ritchie, former chancellor at DU. “If someone tells you there’s wisdom among the gentiles, believe it!” says the Talmud. One of the wisest things I’ve learned is from Dan Ritchie, who told me:
“You have to do your exercises, no matter what.”
So I do.
Then a quick call to a respected rabbinic colleague for a bit of counsel on attending a funeral of this kind.
Back to the King Soopers at 14th and Krameria to meet my wife, on the way to Rose Hill Cemetery.
I can’t even enter the cemetery, being a kohein, a descendant of Aaron the High Priest and thus bound by special rules of purity. So, I stand outside.
Does that make a difference? I don’t know what kind of comfort or respect I might add, no matter where I stand.
Still . . . people in grief deserve and need the presence of friends. Others pay their respects at graveside, I do so by studying Torah on the outside.
Thoughts race through one’s mind — helplessness, grief, questions, the knowledge that no empathy is enough, but must be extended just the same; the infinite gratitude for what one has.
The funeral is done.
Back to King Soopers, then to the 125th dinner of Zera Abraham: a momentous event. How many shuls sustain that level of longevity, not to mention a high level of Torah scholarship?
After the dinner, a minyan.
Home at 10:15 p.m.
Time for a bit of writing — small, very small but steady steps forward on the piece of Torah I am trying to master.
All in a day’s work?
I hope not.
Copyright © 2013 by the Intermountain Jewish News