This week my favorite Hebrew School teacher, Ida Stack, died. And last month the rabbi who officiated at my wedding, Murray Saltzman, also died. This post is for them. Rabbi Saltzman was not my rabbi growing up. He was Susie's. I still remember sitting in his office preparing for our wedding day. I still remember standing on the bima of Baltimore Hebrew Congregation and Rabbi Saltzman exclaiming in his deep, resonate voice, "Susie and Steve, as you stand together on this day, may you stand together throughout the vicissitudes of life." To be fair I was too focused on Susie ("Hmm, she looks so beautiful") to remember his exact words but I can still hear him saying, "vicissitudes." And I remember thinking, "Can we not talk about vicissitudes now... can we get married already and get to the dancing." There have of course been a lot of twists and turns since then. But some twenty years later his words have gained more truth. Most of all I thank him for beginning our life together with his blessing. Ida Stack was on the other hand a part of my childhood. I learned the alef-bet from her. She was that rare teacher that no matter how much a student misbehaved (not me of course) she still smiled and continued to share her love of Hebrew. This is not to say that she was a push over. It is instead to say that she loved what she taught and if you were lucky enough to be a student in her class you felt it. I can still feel her hand on my cheek and her saying, "Well done Steven." Again maybe she did not say, "well done" too often but I can still hear my name on her lips. My memories are most certainly imperfect, but I remember my teachers. I thank them for their teachings, for telling a young groom that there will be many unforeseen twists and turns, some great and some challenging, and for demonstrating by a smile to never be afraid of sharing your love of even something as small as a Hebrew letter. Let the tradition speak for me. Let the Rabbi's Kaddish exclaim: "Grant lasting peace, O God, to our people and their leaders, to our teachers and their disciples, and to all who engage in the study of Torah in this land and in all other lands" Amen. May their souls be bound up in the bond of eternal life.
"From the place where we are right flowers will never grow in the spring." Yehuda Amichai