Shabbat, 31 July, was my birthday on the Gregorian Calendar; today, 23 Av, is my birthday on the Hebrew one. (I see I share it with Gilad Shalit.) Shabbat was also Parshat Ekev, my Bar Mitzvah parsha, and I read it three times: At the 6:30 Ramban minyan, at Shir Chadash, and at the Late Late Minyan, where I also read the Haftarah. It went over well at each place, and I even got to say Birkat Kohanim two more times than usual. Well, on to Ohel Nechama in two weeks! And thanks to Rabbi Klein, my bar mitzvah rebbe, who made sure it didn't stop there!
After that was a very enjoyable lunch, with fellow Encore people among others. I'm really blessed to have found a good "chevre" here. They think I should audition to sing this time, can you imagine? (Come to think, my bar mitzvah rebbe is also a Gilbert and Sullivan fan- I used to run into him at performances in New York.)
Then Mincha at Shteiblach, and then I hosted this week's Seudah Shlishit for the "Shabbat Meals etc. Jerusalem" group. That, in fact, is another grand chevre I've fallen in with. (No easy link- look for them on Facebook!) Lots of people- thirty or forty- showed up- best of all, my sister, brother-in-law, and niece came at the beginning- and we all had a good time, good food, talk, zemirot, divrei Torah, and so on. I'm glad that the person who alerted me to the group (before I even made aliyah, via Facebook) was there so I could thank her- and the whole group- in my little talk; also there was the person who set me up with my apartment and roommate- also off of, you guessed it, Facebook (500 million members helps, eh?)- and I'm happy I was able to thank her as well. My d'var Torah focused on the parsha and its special ties to Eretz Yisrael, of course.
The day ended with a very enjoyable outing to one of the Waffle Bar locations, again with the Encore folk. But all that, while most pleasurable, proved not to be the most interesting part of the day.
At the first Torah reading of the day, I noticed something interesting- the mantle, the velvet cover of the Torah scroll, had an embroidered dedication to someone with the exact name of my brother-in-law (my other brother-in-law, the one in New York). It described the dedicatee as being deceased and the brother of the people who dedicated it. I saw the Hebrew equivalent of 1930 on the scroll's handles, but wasn't sure if the cover was of the same date or later- it's certainly looked to be about forty or more years old. I emailed my sister in New York on Sunday to see what was up.
Today, she wrote back to me. Her husband is named for his grandfather, who passed away in 1959. (The Torah cover could certainly have been fifty years old.) Right before World War II, he was able to get exit visas (from Germany, I believe) so his entire family- his siblings and their families- could get to Israel and survive. Of all of them, only he couldn't get a visa, and so he and his family (including his wife, his daughter, and his son, my sister's father in law) rode out the war in the Philippines. My sister says that it's entirely possible that his siblings dedicated the cover to him after he passed away. She has a family wedding this weekend and will inquire further. But wouldn't it be so cool if it was him?
And for the most amazing part? His birthday was August 3rd. Today.
Oh, Israel is full of amazing "coincidences." (Not long ago I was struck that a Torah cover in my "regular" shul was dedicated to someone from my paternal grandparents' hometown in Galicia.) But this one- especially if it pans out- is one of the biggies.