Last Sunday my sister in New York gave birth to a little boy. The bris is going to be this coming Sunday and my sister asked me to be the mohel so Miriam and I left for New York this morning and we will be spending Shabbat with my parents and my sisters and their husbands and children at my parents home in New Jersey.
Miriam and I made it through our first flight with the two girls. Thankfully they were both very well behaved.
My father picked us up from Newark airport and we headed to my parents home in Teaneck, New Jersey where I grew up. We picked up a pizza from one of the many Kosher pizza shops in Teaneck, and had dinner at home with my parents and my sister and her husband the the new baby. My parents were thrilled to see Rayali and to hold Zoey Shayna for the first time. Rayali loved meeting her new baby cousin and we are all excited for a great shabbat.
The weather in New jersey is unseasonably nice so my father and I decided to walk to shul for Maariv. We went to the shul where I grew up, Bnei Yeshurun. Every night at Bnei Yeshurun they have maariv starting at sunset and then every hour, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10 and then at 10:45. Each minyan has dozens and dozens of people who come to daven.
Every time I come back to Bnei Yeshurun I notice some little changes that the shul has made; new carpet, new artwork, new chairs, things like that. I guess i have acquired an eye for those kind of things after over 10 years in the Rabbi business. After being away from Teaneck for 15 years those changes start to add up and today the shul is very different than the shul that I grew up in.
And yet, when I went to shul with my father we went to the place that my father has been sitting and davening for as long as I can remember. I was immediately flooded with a million memories of growing up in shul, spending Shabbat and holidays with family and community, and learning how to talk to Hashem in the same way that Jews have spoken to God for thousands of years.
Today, my shul is Beth Israel, but Bnei Yeshurun will always be the shul that I grew up in and will have a special place in my heart. The other night was the Bible quiz in Omaha. Five kids form Beth Israel competed. I was so proud of each of them and all the work that they put into the contest. It occurred to me that I have known each of those kids since I moved to Omaha seven years ago. The oldest of them was 10 when I got to Omaha, the youngest was six years old!! I think that we have done a great job of making Beth Israel their shul. I hope that they will have the same feelings for Beth Israel that I have for the shul that i grew up in, and that wherever they go in the future the memories of Beth Israel will always engender a love of Torah, Hashem, and the Jewish people that will stay with them forever.
Today we are getting ready for a big shabbat with family. Tonight my parents are going to host a shalom zachar for my new nephew. A shalom Zachar is a party to welcome the new baby to its first shabbat. After dinner tonight as many as a hundred people will stop by to drink a l'chaim and wish my parents and my sister and her husband well. Last night and all day today people have been stopping by the house to bring home baked cakes and cookies and liquor.
My mother is also cooking a big dinner for tonight so the house smells really really good right now.
Right now I have to stop blogging and go watch my daughters while Miriam goes with my mother to do some grocery shopping and some other last minute shabbat preparations.
I hope everyone in Omaha has a wonderful Shabbat. Even in Bnei Yeshurun I will be thinking about shabbat in Beth Israel!