Wednesday, September 16, 2009

Bagels and Books

On Monday the yeshiva commemorated the five-year anniversary of the death of the father of one of the fellows. Even though none of us had ever met S.’s father, the way in which S. chose to pay tribute to her father generously allowed for us to connect to him in a way through which we, as a community, could mourn for him in a meaningful way.

After her final recitation of the Mourner’s Kaddish, ending davening, S. spoke about her father, and described a man who fiercely believed in the value of education. Until his death, S.’s father collected books that he would never read, leaving a tangible legacy for his children, along with the less concrete values he imparted. For those of us at Hadar who have the privilege of studying with S., it is a legacy that we also benefit from, as we interact with, and learn from, S.

But S. did not just use words to convey her connection to her father, and honor his memory. Instead of cereal for breakfast, S. brought bagels, because her father loved them. That morning, eating and enjoying the same food as S.’s father was strangely moving. The pleasure of having something delicious and different for breakfast became a joy that was not about the food, but that her father had lived and loved bagels, and now we could do it too, and connect to the person he was.

Bagels and books—I can think of no greater Jewish legacy. May the family be comforted, and may S. continue to honor her father’s legacy as embarks on her religious journey this year.

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