Monday, January 08, 2007


You may wonder where I've been the last week and a half. I've been managing sick bay here at Rabenu Politi #3. Ira, as many of his readers know, has been down and out - a bit of pneumonia the doctor said (altho it did take 2 doctors to arrive at this diagnosis), a horrible cough that grew out of a dust attack - that's what happens when you don't vaccum for a well - from our living room carpet, a few nights without sleep for the both of us and then, the piece de resistance, smacking his head, amid a coughing fit, onto the bathroom doorpost, which being a steel frame, was ill advised to say the least. This resulted in a trip to the local emergency clinic, which went surprisingly well and was filled with fluey adults and sniffly kids and Ira with his luch in kup/hole in head. It is an impressive wound and it's healing nicely, glued up into a nice, 2" scabby looking wound (and will no doubt leave a lovely scar), which when combined with the now unearthly sound of Ira's voice - he's lost it entirely - makes him seem a little like He Who Must Not Be Named (for all you Harry Potter fans).

In the midst of all this misadventure, Akiva got sick - light virus and congestion but it passed reasonably well and only required one night of sleeping on the foof nearby in case of 3am barfing and Gabe continues to hack - yes, we'll take him to the doctor this week. Natan and I are both lightly sinusy and I've got a cough but have held up well under the strain of cups of tea and honey brewed and pots of soup prepared. By Shabbat, we were all beat though, and it was rainy and nasty and we all stayed home and worked on a puzzle, which was nice.

As to the reunion of my title. When I was in Israel in 1982, I lived with Barbara Hurwitz. Barb and I were both doing Sherut La'am, a sort of Peace Corps progam here in Israel. We shared an apt in Z'fat up north and later that year lived together in Jerusalem. The idea was that you lived in a Development Town and did some sort of worthy work. I worked with 2 women who had created an inovative drama/arts program for the local schools and Barbara did something else but I can no longer remember what. It was a great year. That December, we went on a tiyul/trip with Sherut La'am during Chanukah, hiking in the Negev, the south. It was a chance for all of the Sherut La'am'niks to meet and greet and have fun. We had a ball. On day 2, I believe, Barbara met Jay Shofet, her husband of 21 years or so. Actually, I met him first...but anyway, it was all moot once they laid eyes on each other. The three of us had alot of fun together that year and returned home to NYC after the year. Jay and I discovered a few interesting connections that year. One, that he was from Millerton, not far from Camp Ramah in the Berkshires, and had actually gone to Webatuck High School, which amazed me, having driven past it on numerous occasions and two, that his mother, Shirley Abrahamson Shoifet, had grown up in New Brittain, Ct, where my father hails from. When we were Stateside that June, our respective parents chatted on the phone and enjoyed reconnecting - they had known each other as kids (it was a small Jewish community) - but it didn't go beyond that.

Flash to 2006 and Jay and Barb were marking their younger son, Nadav's Bar Mitzvah. All the grandparents and family came in from the US. There were Jay's parents, whom I haven't seen in sometime. They brought with them a picture of the Hebrew School of New Brittain, Ct, circa 1942/3. There was my father, Jay's mom and various other names from my father's past. As well, Jay's Cousin Judy was at the BarM and she and her husband, Irving (what else), are bosom buddies of my cousin Joe Brodie, also from New Brittain. Shirley took one look at Natan and pronounced him the spitting image of Teddy Steinberg. He does look alot like my Dad, esp when you look at pics from his teenage years. So...after some delays, a meeting was arranged and I met up with Shirley and her husband, Jake along with Jay, at my parents house this afternoon.

It was really nice for my Dad. Essentially, he left New Brittain at around 14 to attend a Mesivta on East Broadway. After he finished there, he went on to Yeshiva University for College and Rabbinical School. Although he frequently went home for Shabbatot and holidays, he didn't keep up his ties with all of the buddies of his youth - the guys that he played baseball with and, according to Shirley, "cut up around town with." As well, it gave him a chance to talk about all the names of peoples and streets and locations of New Brittain of the 1930's and 40's. His parents eventually left New Brittain along with some of the family, and ended up in Norwich, Ct (some went to Hartford), so my Dad would drive thru on occasion to visit the cemetery or go see a friend who was local pharmacist but those trips were few and far between. He's been nostalgic lately and this was the perfect opportunity to indulge those feelings. Shirley was great, she remembers everything and everyone and was a font of information about who had married whom and where they had gone.

We took some pictures and I'll have to see if I can download them from my phone and send them around to the 2 families. I was reminded of this great kid's book that everyone should read and it's called, "Wilfred Gordon McDonald Partridge" and it's about people and their memories. It's written by Julie Vivas and beautifully illustrated by Mem Fox. Read it.

"Time it was, and what a time it was, it was
A time of innocence
A time of confidences
Long ago, it must be I have a photograph
Preserve your memoriesThey're all that's left you"
Paul Simon/Bookends

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