Thursday, October 13, 2011


October 9, 2011
Still life with lanyard.

On the Jewish calendar, Yom Kippur is the holiest day of the year. Jews spend the day in prayer and in fast, atoning for their misdeeds of the past year. It is sanctified and solemn and not the easiest day on which to be a parent -- because just you try patiently managing a young child's constant need for food and emotional outbursts while you're 18 or 20 hours into a 25-hour fast.

The Israel Bonds Campaign is an annual Yom Kippur event in which synagogues across the country, including ours, always participate. It's a fundraising event that asks congregants to buy bonds that support Israel. We love Israel and support Israel and I've lived in Israel, but we've never bought Israel Bonds. It's something that elderly relatives buy as a gift when babies are born, just like the U.S. bonds that occasionally arrive in the mail. Israel Bonds are something I've never given much thought, except to sidestep the lobby table every Yom Kippur.

In the middle of the morning service is an interlude service called Yizkor, which is a prayer service to mourn the deceased. By common tradition, you don't stay in the sanctuary for Yizkor unless you yourself have lost a parent or sibling or child. Last week, during Yom Kippur, L didn't want to stay outside of the sanctuary for Yizkor.

She did not want to be in the lobby. She did not want to be quiet and respectful. She did not feel attuned to the hushed tenor of the exiting whispered tide.

She did decide to throw an epic tantrum on the lobby floor in her beautiful lace dress, literally blocking the egress of hundreds of congregants from the sanctuary.

As the whispered tide stepped cautiously over her, I could not succeed in convincing her to stand. I was on the verge of picking her up but it wasn't something I wanted to do, because in doing so her next verbal emanations would have been neither hushed nor sanctified.

To my rescue came one of the men sitting at the Israel Bonds table, a twinkly-eyed grandpa type who has bantered with my kids for years and was watching the scene with amusement.

"Psst! Hey, girlie!"

He had her attention. "Want to sit at the table with me and work? Come on, hop up on this chair."

She looked over at the chair, sat up, considered.

"All the workers get to wear a necklace! Want this? Come on!"

She snatched that Israel Bonds lanyard and climbed up on the plastic chair in a flash. She didn't stay long, but she was out of the path of the congregational flow. The doors to the sanctuary were able to close, and Yizkor began.

Twenty minutes later, we all re-entered and found our seats. And L did wear that lanyard all morning, because it was her job. This is my job, she'd whisper to anyone whose attention she could catch, self-assuredly patting the dangling card against her belly.

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