The weather was gorgeous. Of course it was.
We were sitting up front in the Mykonos restaurant in Great Neck. The windows were out so patrons could enjoy the traditional glorious weather of the holy days.
The Lubavitchers were walking to their Chabad, the men in suits, some of them tropical white, the women in dresses. This was a week ago, the second evening of Rosh Hashanah.
A cluster of young people, boys and girls, stopped in front of our table. A young man, maybe 12 or 13, surveyed our table of four and asked the classic question, often posed by proselytizing men in the city: “You Jewish?”
We glanced at Mike, our DH (Designated Hebrew, to use Ron Blomberg’s felicitous book title.)
“Have you heard the shofar yet today?” the young man asked.
(The shofar is the ram’s horn, blown all over the world at the Jewish new year.)
Mike had been to temple in New York, but he was not about to spoil a good scene.
No, we all said.
The one adult in the group, I am assuming a rabbi, began to blow on the horn, for two or three minutes, his notes undoubtedly reaching the shopping mall across the street.
Then he led Mike in a Rosh Hashanah prayer, as all four of us joined in.
They wished us not only a good Rosh Hashanah but a sweet Rosh Hashanah. A good Rosh Hashanah could sound like a root canal, the rabbi said. But Rosh Hashanah should also be sweet. The young people smiled sweetly and we thanked them, and then they were gone.
The manager brought our dinner, just perfect, like New York weather at the holy days.
“They may hate the cultural context they now find themselves teaching in, but they love their work. The Achilles’ heel of schoolteachers, one all too easily exploited by politicians, is that they love their students.”
(One of the best reads in the NYT these days is Margaret Renkl, in Nashville. In her latest post, Renkl describes the dedicated core of “born teachers” – the majority, she submits.)
(From Madeleine Albright in one of her final interviews in February):
“Putin is small and pale,” I wrote, “so cold as to be almost reptilian.” He claimed to understand why the Berlin Wall had to fall but had not expected the whole Soviet Union to collapse. “Putin is embarrassed by what happened to his country and determined to restore its greatness.” – Former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright, recalling her first meeting with the relatively unknown Vladimir Putin in 2000. – The New York Times, Feb. 23, 2022.