My mother did not live to see her 99th birthday, having died 2 weeks ago. Time of shloshim is already flying by. Here is a photo taken at a truly simcha-dik event. On December 18th 1966, my family celebrated two life cycle events: One was a party in honor of me having become bar mitzvah, the other was my sister's wedding. Yup, both on the same day! (Simcha Daniel, yes, I did sing "Vimale") My celebration had already been planned at Singer's Country Club in Spring Valley, NY. A few months prior my sister Ellen and her soon to be husband Bob announced their engagement, asked me if I didn't mind "sharing"my party, and the rest was history.
Pictured from right to left: my brother Franklin, now Ephraim; my brother in law Bob; my sister Ellen; my grandmother Annie: my mother Elsie, me, and my father Adolph.
Here's a true fact - the names my parents were given at birth are not the names that anyone knew or called them by. Adolph was born Abraham, and Elsie was born Lena. My mother explained that all she knew was that her mother Annie had enrolled her in school by the name Elsie. No one remembers why my father became Adolph, yet another question I wish I had asked him while he was alive (my father died in 1990). I will always be left to wonder why, after the Second World War, he didn't use the name Abraham?
One more thing about names. Sometimes my mother didn't call my father "Adolph". She called my father "Dudda". Why? My father was a twin, and my grandmother Sarah, who immigrated from Poland speaking Yiddish, could not fully pronounce the word "brother." So when she called out the window for the twins to come home, she would call "dudda...dudda".
Happy birthday Mom - may your soul continue to ascend to its heavenly source.
Your loving son,
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