A box of Nestle Crunch bars. A dozen tin menorahs. Vinyl records. Half of a bottle of vodka. Thousands (and I mean thousands) of white kippot. This is just a small sampling of the treasures we have uncovered this week as we cleaned the nooks and crannies of Chizuk Amuno. Each one told a story of the congregation and its history, some of them going back to the first decade of our congregation here on Stevenson Road.
We filled garbage bags, recycling bins, and boxes for the genizah. At different points someone would stop to reminisce:
“Look at the pamphlet Rabbi Rosen wrote.”
“This LP is from before I was born.”
“I remember when we used these humashim at Chizuk.”
There were some things we found which made us sad. Like the beautiful Bar Mitzvah tallesim complete with tallis, matching kippah, clips, and matching bag that had long ago been lost or abandoned. Like the multiple sets of tefillin some falling apart, some in pristine condition just missing arms and heads to wear them. Like the siddurim which had pages worn thin from many hands and had been the instrument for decades of prayer but needed to be buried.
Other things brought smiles to our faces. Like empty containers of pretzels which had happily been consumed by children in Torah for Tots and the family services. Like a dozen etrogim still yellow orange but now dried and preserved years after their sukkot use. Like pages of Torah reading giving voice to the chanters of Torah over the years. Like the menorahs which are still requested by Chizuk college and graduate students far from home.
Better than any time capsule buried in the courtyard, they tell the story of Chizuk Amuno and its schools.