Green is the color I’m wearing today. It’s Friday. It’s the off season (for Purple Friday). And it’s St. Patrick’s Day.
Now why would a rabbi be wearing green on Erev Shabbat you might ask? The answer is Mrs. Pat Kelly. Like many Solomon Schechter of Westchester students I first learned about St. Patricks’ Day from our beloved assistant head of school Pat Kelly. Former nun turned Jewish Day School administrator. Mrs. Kelly was the algebra teaching, kippah enforcing, Beit Knesset (chapel) decorating, administrator of the Jewish Day School I attended from Kindergarten through 8th grade.
As her name suggests, Mrs. Kelly was an Irish Catholic who wore her faith on her sleeve and brought a devotion to religious observance and meaning to all that we did at our school. And each year on St. Patrick’s Day she would bake Irish soda bread and we would feast in her office. The Schechter Westchester community used to joke that we were the only Jewish Day School outside of Ireland that celebrated St. Patrick’s Day.
Mrs. Kelly died several years ago and among the many stories told at her funeral mass was the one about the kosher Irish soda bread and the indelible impact she had on generations of Jewish Day School graduates in suburban New York.