For me, it is not so much about religion as it is, “Tradition,” or the customs that were passed on through my grandparents, to my parents, and then to me! They say (whoever they are) that we either remember the best things in our life or the worst moments, and although I may have some somber lingering thoughts in the crevices of my mind, when it comes to synagogue (or maybe in your case church) I chose to remember the happy, warm feelings,
Attending high holiday services this year at Temple Israel in Akron, Ohio I was blessed to find something I have been missing for a long time. With the passing of my father in 2004 on my 20th wedding anniversary and the loss of my mother on 2016 on the eve of Yom Kippur the holiest time in an observant Jews life, my personal need for tradition, warmth, and family became apparent. It was my weekly phone calls to my mother that had been filling the void, and my visits to Detroit to visit her that filled my heart and soul with “Tradition.” And although my father was not a pious man, he was a man of words, “Words by Harmon,” that fulfilled my needs, Pops may not have received a college education, but he was a learned observer. Sometimes he would get into heated discussions to share his thoughts and prove a concept, but in the end, he loved and respected not just his children, but everyone for their thoughts and opinions. It was with the death of my mother that an empty pit in my stomach needed nourishment. Nourishment for me included making numerous changes experience life on my new journey.
Although we are still the same today as we were yesterday, we can evolve and modify ourselves to fulfill those personal needs. Personally, I may have felt bullied, abused, even unloved during my life, but, I found a way to trudge through the dark forest and climb the rugged terrain. I am no different than anyone else except I have chosen not to be a victim. It’s an easy choice to make, but it does not stop the voices, thoughts, and the past experiences, to impinge upon that journey. Even when I felt weak and alone, somehow, I took a step each day to find my “Tradition.” For my survival and my happiness, I must continue taking this journey.
My parents made a choice to have children, and I was the third of their three, following the birth of my brother Gary and Joel. As a young child, I use to tell my brothers I could have been the oldest, but I pushed them out first! Although that idea of mine drew laughs in the past, it was another survival mechanism I had when my brothers (naturally) picked on me as siblings do. I would bring up this subject when I was feeling left out, when my parents would include my brothers, but left me out because I was too young, I was the baby girl.
This baby girl has spent the better part of life trying to be the good person, the friend, and achieving the best results, not to out best someone else but to be on an equal playing field. I met success along the way, but I did not nurture it as I felt unworthy. So, just like Hertz, “I tried harder.”
As long as I live and breathe, I will continue walking through the mysteries of life but thanks to inner strength, I have reached out to find a home. I have a house that I live in with my loving husband and my youngest adult son. My heart and soul has been with them as well as with my oldest son, many miles away. I am not giving up that part of my heart, but I am now filling the void that has been gnawing at me for a very long time.
This takes me back to Rosh Hashanah services of this year, just a few weeks ago. I chose to experience what I hoped to be missing piece in my life. I went to Temple and although the beauty of the service was welcoming, and Cantor Kathy’s voice seeped into my bloodstream, sitting alone was just like the song says, “One is the Loneliest Number.” I looked around me and saw families, friends, and acquaintances sharing in a “Tradition,” well I observed and craved for the community. My need to belong led me to contact Rabbi Brown (and I cannot say enough about how special he has made me feel!) My contact drew and introduction to Elaine, who put me in the sweetest embrace of Teri, who has become my sister from another mother. But it has not stopped there…I have met (do not give me a test on names, but I do recognize the faces and the friendship) so many kind, and warm individuals that have allowed me to develop some new “Traditions.”
We are living in a troubled society as 2018 rapidly becomes 2019 and the Jewish year of 5779 just begins. If we look at our history, “In the Beginning…” life has always been challenging, more so for some, and less for others. Or that is what we believe. We look at the outside and make assumptions creating much of our own angst that seeps into the veins of those around us. I can’t and do not desire to go back and be a child in the home of my parents to find the loving warmth that filled my soul, because I know that there were cold, damp days that sent chills up and down my spine as well. But as Rabbi Brown shared with us yesterday Yizkor Services (memorial services), for us to evolve, we must remember the good and the beauty and weave a pattern that will bring us the peace and fill the voids. If we do this, we will evolve and expand our friendships and find Shalom.
Temple Israel is not a magical place, however, for me, it is like walking into OZ, I see color that is fulfilling my soul.
I must share a few thanks:
- Candace Pollock – The Intentionality Gurus – for sharing her podcasts with me on newclevelandradio.net. It is through the coaching from Candace that I am more intentional. I am observing life and selecting pathways that I chose to explore because I can!
- Rabbi Josh Brown – Temple Israel, for finding the time to answer an email from someone he had never met who felt lonely. Not all Rabbis are created equal.
- Rabbi Robert Barr – Although, Rabbi Bob has no idea that he influenced me the teachings go back over thirty years. However, on Yom Kippur Night when I streamed Temple Beth Shalom’s Kol Nidre service, I knew that I was on the right path. Your sermon and words were relevant, and as I heard your story about running for office in Ohio, I connected with you and knew that even from a distance we were still family.
- Elaine and Teri, no last names needed, you are so special to me. I have a few women in my life I call girlfriends. This is not the time and place to go into this, but I can say you are my girlfriends even though we are just getting to know each other. I cherish your warm spirits, and I look forward to many years of growth.
- Cantor Kathy & Scott Fromson, the beauty and tradition style of chanting brought me joy and delight. Surprisingly many of the tunes were the same, or like those, I learned in Hebrew School some 50+ years ago. Your voice rings in my years, and for me, it is a delightful sound. When Scott was introduced to me he was identified as the Mayor of the Temple, however, unlike many Mayors, I have met, his warmth, smile, and sincere handshake melted my heart.
This adventurous journey is just beginning, and only as my past as has many bumps, turns and roadblocks along the way I do not expect this to be any different, but I will be resilient because I am a survivor and “Tradition” makes me smile.