Sunday, April 24, 2011

When I Make Kiddush I think of My Zayde

Every Friday night I think of Zayde. Walking home from shul with him admiring the streets of Yerushalayim; the way he would feign interest in a certain building hiding the fact that he needed to stop and rest; his worn out silk robe; the sound of his dragging slippers as he makes his way to the Shabbat table from the living room; his attempted toss of the velvet challah cover towards the heater just before saying the bracha...and then the Kiddush.

So many memories, yet so many forgotten.

Funny thing about life--we forget stuff, even meaningful stuff. I forget the few serious conversations I had with my mother's father; I forget my first dates with my wife; my children's first steps...not to mention all the Torah I heard, all the wisdom I inherited from my elders.

Of course forgetfullness is a blessing as well. Imagine if all our memories were intact; all our letdowns, all the heartbreak and the tragedy still reverberating in our consciousness.

So I forget a lot about my Zayde-- but not on Friday night. As I stand eyes closed, cup overflowing with grape juice, I nostalgically recall my Zayde in the same position chanting the kiddush. Inevitably, tears would well up in his eyes. "Why", I once asked him, "do you cry during kiddush"? He responded, "I'm crying because when I recite kiddush I close my eyes and think of my father in Poland."

And so, today, surrounded by my family holding the kiddush cup in my hands and reciting the kiddush, I engage in the act of remembering. I remember my Zayde and miss him greatly; I remember the gift of the Shabbat day; I remember what is important in my life;
I remember.