Tag Archives: #RoshHashanah

Bye bye Boomer? Who shall live and who shall die?

Was it time for us to retire Boomer to that Stuffed Bear Den in the Sky?

A couple of days after our son was born, my husband Larry came to the hospital with a huge brown teddy bear, his first gift to Adam. We named the stuffy “Boomer,” the moniker we had given to my ever expanding stomach during my pregnancy as well as a salute to our Baby Boomer status. 

Boomer occupied a place in Adam’s room in our family home through nursery school and beyond When the shiny nose fell off, I sewed on another one with black yarn. When the paws got torn up after too many rides on Adam’s Big Wheels, I covered up the bear’s bare spots with yellow felt patches. On Adam’s first day of kindergarten, we took a picture of Adam holding on to his bear before boarding the school bus.

By his bar mitzvah, Adam relegated Boomer to the top shelf in his bedroom. When Adam headed off to the University of Rochester in 1996, he left his companion behind. [Three years later, our daughter Julie brought her lovey Rerun with her to college. It now has a place of honor on her daughter’s bed.]. We put the brown bear on the pillow on Adam’s bed in the quiet, empty, amazingly clean room. Boomer waited patiently through Adam’s grad school and first jobs and trips across country and to Israel and Belize and law school. Alas, Adam never sent for him. 

When we packed up to move to Florida, I sent texts to our children with pictures of the things they left behind with the simple request: “Toss or send to you?” Adam claimed his Star Wars action figures, Zayde Ernie’s World War II helmet, and a couple of framed pictures. Boomer got a thumbs down.

In the end, Larry and I loved Boomer more than Adam did. Larry and I didn’t have the heart to throw Boomer in the trash. After some discussion, we carted him to Kissimmee, where he earned a spot on a bookshelf with our other cherished tchotchkes: Larry’s Otto the Orange mascot, a plush toy I had given him one Chanukah that played the Syracuse University’s marching song when we squeezed his hand. My two 7 inch high dolls in Mexican attire my father had purchased for me at a gift shop in Montreal’s Chinatown after wontons and fortune cookies at the Nan King restaurant; Julie’s doll with the green dress and matching bonnet that had prompted our then-fourteen month old daughter’s first complete sentence on the way back from a shopping trip to buy her a bed: “Oh-oh! Left Baby Bobbie on mattress at Macy’s,” she cried behind me from her car seat. “Go Back!”

I thought Boomer would find his way back home to Adam when our son’s wife Sarah delivered their own little Boomer in 2020. My hopes that I could pack him up in a box and ship him to California were quickly dashed. “I really don’t want it,” Adam told me. “And after 42 years, goodness knows what germs live in that toy! Toss it!”

Taking a good look at Boomer, I almost had to agree with Adam. I took pride in the fact that the black nose and yellow felt paws and feet I had sewn on over forty years ago were still intact. After too many years dealing with Florida humidity, however, the poor stuffed animal was definitely worse for wear.His now graying stuffing was peeking out of his right leg and exploding out of a side seam. His head wobbled, held onto the body with unraveling brown thread. His “fur” had begun to resemble that of a mangy dog. Still, we put him back on the shelf.

Eighteen months later, Boomer’s future was again jeopardy. Larry and I had managed to fit all that was needed for a seven week trip to visit our children in California and Colorado in two medium sized suitcases. If we had survived all summer with so little, why were our closets and drawers still packed with all the clothes we hadn’t bothered to bring?

It wasn’t just the clothes. Despite our purge when we made the move to Florida from Upstate New York in 2015, we (especially me) had somehow again acquired too much stuff. A kitchen full of housewares. Closets filled with unworn clothing. Old books that I was finally going to read while sheltering in place. A two-foot stack of nearly untouched New Yorker magazines. I was ready for a “pandemic purge.” The day before Rosh HaShanah, while looking in my closet to find an outfit for services, I found two dresses that I had not worn in three years. I threw them onto the guest bed. I followed them up with more items to recycle—clothes, linens, books, heavy sweaters I had saved “just in case.” By Yom Kippur, the pile covered the entire double bed. It was a new year, a new start.

But some things were non-recyclable, including a tattered teddy. “Maybe it’s time to say goodbye to Boomer,” I said to Larry. 

“No way!” he cried. “Besides, we need to keep him at least until our grandson is able to come to Florida to visit. He has to meet Boomer.”

Larry was right. The idea of putting Boomer into the trash broke both our hearts. I took out my sewing kit, pushed the stuffing back into worn cloth, and stitched him up. We called Adam and Sarah and asked them to mail us a couple of our grandson’s outgrown tee-shirts to cover up all the stitches. And then  Boomer will resume his special place on our shelf. Yes, in the end, we couldn’t—forgive the pun—bear to part with him. 

Boomer at 43.

Honor the Memory of Ruth Bader Ginsburg. VOTE!!!

I will never forget where I was when I heard of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s passing.

My husband Larry and I were in front of our computer, chatting with our fellow Congregation Shalom Aleichem members before our Rosh Hashanah Zoom service was to begin. “Ruth Bader Ginsburg passed away,” interjected a member who had just gotten the breaking news on his phone.

All chatter stopped. Then there were murmurs of “Oh No!” “Oh my God!”

I was devastated. My heart turned cold as I thought about what will happen to our Supreme Court if the current administration pushed through another Conservative, anti-abortion, anti-gay rights individual. Larry saw my face and knew what I was thinking.

Impact
“It is Rosh Hashanah. For the next 24 hours, we take time to celebrate her life,” he told me. “We will worry about its impact later.”

Within hours of the announcement of her death Friday night, an outpouring of affection for the first Jewish woman appointed to the country’s highest court had already begun. People spontaneously gathered on the front steps of the Supreme Court building, where she had served as a judge for 27 years, bearing candles and singing Amazing Grace. In other places in the country, crowds gathered to say Kaddish, and to remember her. At Central Synagogue in New York City on Rosh Hashanah morning, Rabbi Angela W. Buchdahl spoke at the virtual service from New York City’s Central Synagogue. She honored Justice Ginsburg in an eloquent spoken and musical tribute to “a real tzaddik, a woman of justice.” As pictures of the late justice’s life were displayed on the screen, the rabbi sang a beautiful rendition of Psalm 150 (Halleluhu / Praise God in His sanctuary) to the melody of Leonard Cohen’s Hallelujah. I cry every time I watch it.

In the days that followed, I read many Jewish interpretations of the timing of Justice Ginsburg’s death. One midrash stated that Jews who dies between Rosh Hashanah is fast-tracked to heaven as they are true “tzaddikim,” people of great righteousness. With the fact that Rosh Hashanah fell on Sabbath this year, the significance is deemed to be even greater.

Replacement?
As  many Jews and non-Jews celebrated her life, however, Republicans were already planning her replacement. This incredible woman was not even cold when Trump announced that he would name his pick. His sycophants quickly fell into line. Forget that in 2016, President Obama’s nomination of Merrick Garland was blocked by many of the same Republicans. “The American people should have a voice in the selection of their next Supreme Court Justice,” stated Mitch McConnell in March 2016. “Therefore, [Justice Anthony Scalia’s] vacancy should not be filled until we have a new president.” This did obviously did not hold true for the current administration.

What was even more disturbing to me was the president’s attempt to besmirch her legacy. Clara Spera, Justice Ginsburg’s granddaughter, had asked her ‘Bubbe’ in her last days if there was anything wanted to say to the public that hadn’t been said. Ginsburg stated, “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new president is installed.” President Trump publicly suggested that the Democrats had fabricated Justice Ginsburg’s dying wish. “It sounds so beautiful,” said the president in an interview on Fox and Friends,” but that sounds like a Schumer deal, or maybe Pelosi or Shifty Schiff” (There is no limit to the depths of indecency this man can go.).

This afternoon, while I was writing this article, Senator Mitt Romney signaled that he is on board with the Senate’s taking up a new Supreme Court nominee during the current election year, an announcement that almost ensures the president’s pick will be confirmed. The news has hit me as hard as when Nov. 9, 2015, I learned that Donald J. Trump was to be our new president.

What Shall We Do?
“I am so, so sad,” I shared on my Facebook page. “Women’s rights will be gone. The Affordable Care Act will be on the chopping block. The election may come down to the Conservative, Trump-leaning Supreme Court. Goodness knows what is next.”

My daughter Julie Shapiro wrote a letter to her to her Colorado Senator Cory Gardner. By supporting another Trump-appointed justice, she told him that he and his cohorts are stealing the rights and protections of Americans, particularly those of women, immigrants, minorities, elderly and other vulnerable populations. Accusing him of being on “the wrong side of history,” Julie voiced her concern for her five-year-old daughter.“ It may take a generation or more but I hope someday my daughter’s daughter will live in a country that defends rather than undermines its democratic principles. A country that looks back ruefully but with relief for having overcome this chapter in which people like yourself snatched power from the deserving and flattered yourselves in your delusion that you were helping those that you continuously hurt.”

Ruth Bader Ginsburg, a legal pioneer for gender equality and the second woman to serve on the Supreme Court, has died. The possibility of a Supreme Court with a Conservative majority is becoming more of a certainty. Where do we go from here?

November 3 is coming quickly. Honor Ruth Bader Ginsburg. Keep hounding your representatives, even if many don’t appear to care for anything beyond their own self-interests. Work to get out the vote. Write postcards and letters. Participate in phone banks and texting sessions. And on November 3, vote as if your life and the lives of our children and grandchildren depend on it. And then on January 20, you can share my joy as we welcome a new, better day in America.

The Jewish World, September 22, 2020

Being Born: The World, The Jewish World, and me!

Happy Birthday to me! Happy Birthday to The Jewish World! And Happy Birthday to the World!

It was Labor Day—how fitting!  On Sept. 3, 1950, as my mother’s doctor had a noon golf date, Frances Cohen accommodated his schedule by delivering me a little after 9 a.m.

The Jewish World came along 15 years later. Inspired by Jewish community leaders with the idea that a newspaper would strengthen the community, Sam Clevenson published its first issue for Rosh Hashanah 5716 on Sept. 23, 1965. He believed it would help unify the Jewish communities of Albany, Schenectady, Troy, and the surrounding area. After his passing in 2008, his children, Laurie and Jim, took the helm, packing the paper with more local news, adding a dynamic web site and weekly e-newsletter to expand the readership.

What’s in the ‘World’
The bi-weekly covers local religious events and a wide range of local, national, and international news that impacts and strengthens our Jewish community. It is also a valuable source for happenings in the world of art and culture. Over the years, I have clipped recipes, jotted down the names of books and movies, and have learned much about the world through a Jewish lens.

The recent rise of Jew-hating has made our local newspaper even more important. “For 54 years The Jewish Worldhas monitored perils to your existence,” Jim Clevenson recently said. “We finger the foes of freedom, the nemeses of peace, while celebrating the successes of our crusaders for justice, black and white, Jewish and Gentile.”

‘There goes my heart’
While my husband, Larry, and I had been longtime subscribers and readers, my personal connection to The Jewish World began in 2013. While covering the Capital District Hadassah’s special events banquet, I visited the office in Schenectady to speak to Jim Clevenson. In my pre-retirement life, I had worked in public relations as both a volunteer and as part of my job at the Capital District Educational Opportunity Center, a division of Hudson Valley Community College. Jim asked if I would be interested in writing news articles for the paper. I countered with an offer to write personal columns based on my many years as an upstate resident. My first article, “There Goes My Heart,” was published Aug. 15, 2013. Laurie and Jim (and readers) must have liked it. Over the past seven years, I have published 148 articles in Sam Clevenson’s brainchild.

Since Larry and I moved to Florida in 2015, I have expanded my horizons by becoming a regular contributor to the Heritage Florida Jewish News. My articles have been posted on numerous websites, the Jewish War Museum, Growing Bolder cancer survivors website, the US Pickleball Association, and most recently the Australian-based Jewish Women of Words (I have gone international!) I have compilations in two books, There Goes My Heart (2016) and Tikkun Olam: Stories of Repairing an Unkind World (2018). Two books are in the queue: Keep Calm and Bake Challah, a third collection of essaysand Fredyl’s Stories, family stories that I co-wrote with my mother, Frances Cohen (Of Blessed Memory). My blog, theregoesmyheart.me, presents my stories as well as articles about my writing adventures.

My articles, books, and blog would not have been possible without the help and support of Laurie and Jim Clevenson. They have provided the space in the paper plus advice and guidance.

The lonely ‘Zoom’
This month, The Jewish World and I also share our birthdays with the world. Rosh Hashanah 5781 begins on Friday, Sept. 18. Of course, the High Holy Days will be very different this year for most of us. Rather than meeting fellow congregants in our synagogues, we will be “Zooming.” As the first day falls on Shabbos, Reform Jews will have to wait until the closing moments of Yom Kippur to hear the sound of the shofar over the Internet. Holiday meals will be lonely as most families are practicing social distancing. Fasting on the holiest day of the year will be made even more difficult when we are not sharing the experience.

But I will still celebrate. I will bake round challahs, roll matzoh balls and drop them in simmering chicken soup, and cook up my traditional chicken, roasted potatoes, and candied carrots. Larry and I will do a brachah over the wine asking for a sweet, better year ahead. After we have finished our Zoom service, I will pull out the most recent Jewish World and catch up on what is happening from the only local paper that focuses on Jewish news—what you need to know.

It’s not just the virus
Before Corona-19 we were already a polarized nation crazed with resentment of blacks, Jews, and foreigners. Now we’ve heard echoes of ‘The Jews have poisoned the wells’! The Jewish World promotes Jewish life and culture, and stands for Jewish traditions of rationality and love. We believe good people must stand together to encourage and facilitate light. This is our mission and duty as Jews.

What you can do
To celebrate The Jewish World’s 55th birthday, I ask you to support the paper you are holding in your hands or reading on-line. Renew your subscription. The Clevensons shared with me that a new office staffer is managing the database, and non-payers may find their mailboxes a little emptier on every other Friday.

Give subscription gift certificates to your kids and friends! To carry on the Clevenson legacy call Cynthia Traynahan in the office, (518) 344-7018. She knows all the special discounts.

With Corona-19 disrupting most businesses, The Jewish World needs extra help: visit GoFundMe at gf.me/u/xunxx5.

I also request that you keep in touch with me! I love to hear from readers. E-mail me at shapcomp18@gmail.com , via my Facebook page at Marilyn Cohen Shapiro, Writer, or on Twitter at @shapiro_marilyn. Thank you!

The Jewish World, September 15, 2020