It was the day after Yom Kippur and I was catching up – filing away the papers, making notes for next year, and working on my Shabbat sermon, when an unfamiliar couple came into the office. They introduced themselves as the Bernsteins and they had with them a framed print of the tapestry (God’s Blessings to Man) that hangs at the entrance to the synagogue. They explained that they had driven hundreds of miles to see the tapestry again and wanted to know if someone could translate for them the Hebrew word at the top of the work. The artist who designed it, Evelyn Bernstein, was the gentleman’s mother.
As we walked down the hall to the entrance he started weeping and wiping his eyes. “She just died last year Rabbi,” he said. The tapestry (on the left as you enter the shul) has different images and woven across them the words to the sheheiyanu. At the top of the panels was the Hebrew word Berakhot, Blessings. The couple recounted how they recalled her working on it and told me about the beautiful reproduction that they had hanging in their home.
They didn’t know if the original would still be hanging at Chizuk Amuno but they hoped that it would be and were touched to still find it on our walls. They didn’t remember the year it had been done so we looked together at the names on the plaque to see if we could figure it out. Evelyn’s son cried some more as he traced the letters of her name and I told him about several of the workers whose names I recognized. Some of the women I told him I had seen in shul for Yom Kippur – Linda Eisenberg, Elaine Tobias, Ann Zaiman, Anita Raynes, Lois Halpert. Others I told him I knew, but they had passed away years ago – Abby Blumenthal, Rae Preissman.
I wrote out for him the word Berakhot as it was printed at the top of his mother’s art work and as we wished each other Shanah Tovah and parted ways, he was wiping away tears.
After a wonderful Yom tov, another reminder for me of the many blessings and magical moments in this community.