24 April 2010

Omer 25: Neighbors

Omer Day Twenty-Five

A man held the Torah today but this was no ordinary man.

He had traveled to Brooklyn from Holland to celebrate the Bar Mitzvah of a Jewish boy, born to a Jewish friend of his who was hidden by his grandparents in a Dutch farmhouse during the Nazi occupation of Holland.

The story he told me after the service, when he wanted to hold the Torah again and have his picture taken, was that as a young boy he heard about his grandparents agreeing to a request from the Dutch resistance to take in a young Jewish girl. They grew up together as friends, she was reunited with her parents (also hidden) after the war, and the young Jewish girl eventually left for America. After 40 years she returned to Holland looking to express her gratitude for having had her life saved by these righteous Gentiles and that's when she re-met our friend, our neighbor, who today held the Torah for the first time in his life.

Does it surprise you, dear reader, to be reminded that in this week's Torah portion, God says to children of Israel, "Love your neighbor as yourself, I am the Eternal?"

It's been a long time since I've seen a man love Torah so much.

A love of history, fate and friendship.

The kind of love that really ought to be shared among neighbors more often.


Old First said...

I would love to have met him. To bless him with you.

Jodi said...

I heard this story today from the mom of the bar mitzvah boy and was so moved that I had to look up your post. Incredible. Shabbat Shalom--