Friday, January 21, 2005

Shabbat Around Town

We participated in another yearly Temple Micah event tonight. Shabbat Around Town is a substitute for Friday night services, whereby temple members have other temple members to their homes for dinner. For some reason, we seem to always be cooking rather than going to someone else’s house to eat.

We had 9 people for dinner tonight, including David and me, ranging in age from 3 to 89, and averaging well above our ages. But these elderly people are truly an inspiration.

Florence (89) is recently widowed. She is on a plane tomorrow at 7:30 AM bound for Argentina, where she will take a study-cruise around the tip of Argentina and up the Chilean coast. She asked to borrow a couple of good novels to read on the trip. And, oh yeah, she brought homemade chicken liver to the dinner.

Gail (86) is an accomplished pianist, who still teaches. She gave us a mini concert, in which she played some of the most challenging music I have ever seen. Her eyesight is no longer so good, so she just memorizes everything.

Mollie (75) is the daughter of German refugees who escaped just one week before Kristallnacht. She was a docent at the Corcoran and has a deep love of music. I met Mollie when her husband was terminally ill and we became close friends soon after his death. She brought 2 beautiful salads and a cake to the dinner.

Lora (around 60? and Gail’s daughter) is in the Opera House Orchestra as a clarinetist. She has taught for many years at the college level and privately and loves all sorts of music. She brought a beautiful homemade blackberry pie with a latticed crust.

Frank (Lora’s husband, who is not Jewish) and their 2 grandchildren, Danny (3) and Timmy (6), rounded out the guest list. Frank spent a lot of the evening keeping Danny and Timmy from killing each other, which was not easy. Danny bit Timmy twice and Timmy slammed Danny’s hand in the front door in retribution – tit for tat! I had gotten 2 boxes of “special toys” out of the attic. Seeing the boys play with them brought back memories of my own children playing with them.

We did the Shabbat candle-lighting, with all of the women saying the prayer together. Then we did blessings over the wine and bread. That was about the extent of the liturgy. When we do have a special Shabbat dinner, it makes me wish we had done this every week with our children, who probably never even think about the fact that Shabbat starts at sundown on Friday night!

We had a very simple dinner. One of the things I talked to my therapist Anne about this week was how to have more fun when entertaining other people. At her advice, I chose a menu that required very little work, could be made ahead of time, and could not fail – purchased challah, roast chicken with lots of onions and herbs, arborio rice cooked in chicken broth, asparagus with Hollandaise sauce, and fresh fruit. When people offered to bring things, I gladly accepted instead of my usual, “You don’t really need to bring anything.” Out of that I got the chicken liver, 2 salads, a pie, and a cake. David and I clearly decided who was doing what ahead of time and pretty evenly divided the work. In fact, he is downstairs cleaning up and I am playing on the computer right now. It turns out that most people really do like plain food like this menu. And the stories that both Florence and Mollie told about buying live chickens in Brooklyn in a bygone era were priceless.

The music was a most special part of the evening. Gail played two very difficult pieces. Timmy (who has been taking piano for a year) played “The Juggler” with his legs crossed at the ankle and not reaching the floor. Then Lora and I played piano-clarinet duets. It was her music, so I was sight-reading everything for the first time. If I had thought about it too hard for very long, I would have been intimidated. But instead I just played and enjoyed every minute of it. The very good news is that I think we might play again some time. And I am definitely going to play some 4-hand piano pieces with Gail. I’m still really into this idea of playing with other people! It is a great feeling.

This was a really good evening, partly because it brought together so many generations. It reaffirmed my love of Temple Micah because it is about so much more than just religion. These people are truly our friends.


Anonymous Anonymous said...

You are truly blessed to have so many wonderful, interestin friends. They are all truly blessed to be able to count you as their friend. FL

8:43 AM  

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