First, the primary reason we were there, as I've mentioned in earlier posts, was for my great-nephew David's Bar Mitzvah. It was a Saturday afternoon (Havdalah) service at Temple Beth Ami in Rockville, MD.
David did a wonderful, confident job with the readings from his Maftir portion in the Torah and his Haftorah. I was impressed with his commentary on a selection from Pirke Avot (Sayings of Our Fathers) which he chose because, in his own words, he did not understand it when he read it the first time.
David, the day before his Bar Mitzvah
While the service was warm and pleasant, it reminded me of how different the different branches of Judaism are from each other. We belong to a conservative congregation and there were parts of the reform Beth Ami liturgy that were quite different than what I am accustomed to hearing. But it was a joyous event and I thank David's family for honoring my sister, brother and me by asking us to remove the Torah coverings after it was taken from the Aron Kodesh so it would be ready for reading.
After the service, there was a wonderful dinner dance in the Temple's social hall. It was very much geared toward David and his friends although there was much to enjoy for all of us older folks. I mean, I even got up and danced and that doesn't happen very often.
Dancing the Hora (that's Donna front and center)
Proud parents Kate and Danny welcoming guests at the party with David and Sara
Second, as a result of the Bar Mitzvah, family gathered from around the country. A lot of pictures were taken and I'll share just a couple here.
As much as I hate to say it, my brother, sister and I are the "older generation" of the Cohanim. That's Andy on the left, Bobby in the middle and "baby" me. (What can I say; I have always been and always will be the baby.)
And below is the California branch of the family; Donna and me with Seth and Alicia.
There were many nieces and nephews and cousins there too but I decided to keep this at a manageable length and I don't have pictures of all of them.
We did get a chance to spend Labor Day in DC at the Holocaust Museum. It is important to note that this museum urges us to never forget what happened to millions of Jews, gypsies, political dissidents, homosexuals, Poles and other nationalities at the hands of Hitler. Since World War II, unfortunately, we have seen too many other instances of genocide.
For me, the most emotional moment on the main museum tour is walking through a railcar that had been used to transport people to the concentration and death camps.
Although, to my knowledge, I had no family members lost in the Holocaust, I have many friends who did and I know a number of survivors. And, ironically, my first role when I started acting was that of Mordechai Weiss in the play A Shayna Maidel by Barbara Lebow. It focuses on the reunification of a Jewish family following World War II. The emotions I experienced at the Holocaust Museumin were similar to what I felt in that role .
Finally, we took an additional side trip, driving to Baltimore to visit with Rabbi Ron Shulman and his wife Robin. As I mentioned in my post the day after our return, they moved to Chizuk Amuno Congregation 3 years ago, following 21 years as our Rabbi and Rebittzen here. It was such an enjoyable afternoon and evening getting caught up with them. The synagogue is magnificent. While I do not have a picture of the outside of the building, I do have one of the main sanctuary.
We had visited downtown Baltimore early in the day, having lunch at a restaurant in Fells Point, before driving out to the synagogue. And the day was topped off by a Rabbi led tour of Jewish sights in the city followed by dinner at a kosher Chinese restaurant.
Wow! We really did a lot in 6+ days! No wonder it has taken several days to recover from the trip. Now we can sit back and enjoy the memories and pictures from the journey. Ok – enough "show and tell."