After running the kids to school in the gray of day with a kind of snowy rain falling, I contemplated briefly that the baseball season was opening. Reminding myself to check my subscription on the MLB website for my season pass to radio coverage of this great game, I warmed against the weather to the thought of hearing Bob Uecker call games for another season. I don't have *great* expectations for the Brewers but I have expectations, and one of them is that I'm hoping he'll provide some comfort in the face of an increasingly troubling world by waxing eloquent about bratwurst several times during this 162 game span.
Met with a few congregants ahead of a sitdown with New York City Councilman Steve Levin, a bright young leader in city government, who stops by CBE once in a while to check in on his constituents. We talked about budget cuts, the city's schools, our work with Osborne Association and my own personal desire--how to start a meals program so that CBE can start providing more for the city's poor (he had some good advice--more on that after Passover.) I so enjoy seeing young leaders move into position with a sense of realism and optimism about where this city ought to be going.
I ran from the meeting with the councilman to a bris and a baby naming in the Chapel. One of our community's families had their second set of twins and it was such an intense moment to witness. I got to work with Rabbi David Kedmi, a wonderful mohel, who shared with me a brilliant teaching which he learned from Rabbi Haskel Lookstein, who learned it from Rabbi Joseph Soloveitchik. When we circumcise a child, the liturgy says "zeh ha'katan, gadol y'hiyeh--this one is small, may he become great." The Rav taught that the reason why we say this is to remind ourselves that in the story of creation, the moon is referred to as the "small" light and the sun is referred to as the "great" light. Therefore, we say "this one is small, may he become great" in order to declare that at the beginning of life, a child reflects the parents' light, like the moon, but eventually the child grows to give off their own light, experience, and acquired wisdom. A beautiful teaching.
The girl was named with the same ceremony (minus the bris, of course) and mother and father told powerful, moving stories about the enormous strengths of the great-grandmothers for whom they were named. The power of bestowing names never ceases to amaze me.
From there I ran to New York City College of Technology's Jewish Faculty and Staff Association's annual Passover Mock Seder Demonstration, where our beloved member and CBE past-president (and first woman president in the history of the congregation) Donna Rosenthal was honored for her contributions to civic leadership. I love Donna. She is so generously hearted and we always have a good time working together. It was a joy to be there with her to be honored. After presenting her with the award, we sat together for the brief Seder led by Rabbi Alan Kay, a wise and funny man, and then I headed back to the neighborhood.
Nathan needed a walk; a made a few tortillas; and then sat quietly, at my mid-day repast, as Ricky Weeks, Carlos Gomez and Ryan Braun started the Brewers' season right with a few homeruns. I was thrilled. Bob Uecker mentioned brats. What could be better.
Back to shul. A few bar and bat mitzvah students entered my study and we worked on their speeches about turning thirteen, being Jews, and what the Torah means to them. The Tree of Life is a heavy object--it's a lot for a kid to take on. These kids are heroic in their attempt to make sense of it all.
The actual wood, in the ballpark in Cincinnati, seemed to get heavier for Milwaukee in the late innings and to my shock and dismay, when I arose between students to turn up the volume on my computer, I listened as the Brewers gave up a ninth inning two out three run homer to lose game one of the season.
All in all, however, the loss was firmly implanted in a rich bed of precious perspective.