I have memory of my father, Abraham Novak (z"l) , chanting.
making his way through the haggadah at stunning speed,
interrupted occasionally by my mother peeking out of the kitchen, asking "how much longer until dinner?"
I have memory of my father singing, always a Jewish liturgical song, in his rich deep bass, a voice that held up the world.
I have memory of my father working, standing over the cutting table at his dress factory, cigar in hand, ruling his small "empire" that employed 20 people for 40 years.
I have memory of my father smoking his cigar, his constant companion every day, except on Shabbas. My mother would ask, "Adolph, why can't every day be Shabbas?"
I have memory of my father and me playing catch on the side of our house. He is wearing a white tee shirt, shorts, black socks and shoes, tossing a hard ball with me, back and forth, as time stands still. Is this heaven?
(Yes, I do weep, every time, at the end of Field of Dreams)
I have memory of my father eating, always with a yarmulke on his head. He expected me and my brother to always wear one at the table as well. I remember one day as a teenager sitting down at the table, beggining to eat purposely without my head covered. I hear my father say to my mother, "Tell your son that at my table we wear a yarmulke."
I have no memory of my father crying.
I have memory of my father selling cans upon cans of maccaroons to everyonehe possibly can - in his workplace, on the subway, in the naighborhood. I win the #1 prize in the religious school contest for selling maccaroons - a radio that clips on to my bicycle handle.
I have memory of my father lying in bed at the hospital. Although he cannot open his eyes nor utter a word, he hears me singing to him, L'dor Va'dor, and instinctively, through labored breathing, he reaches for the harmony part.
For all that you gifted me with dad, I thank you. When I say Kaddish for you next week you will be alive in my memory and I will, as I do right now, feel your presence
I never died said he.
Mark Novak is a "free-range" rabbi who lives in Washington DC and works, well, just about everywhere. In 2012 he founded Minyan Oneg Shabbat, home to MOSH (Minyan Oneg Shabbat), MindfulMOSH (Jewish mindfulness gathering), and