osewalrus (osewalrus) wrote,

Aaron siyum and Grandpa's yartzheit this shabbos

We're sponsoring shalishidus [a light meal at the end of Sabbath] in shul this week for Aaron's finishing Rosh Hashanna and Yuma [two sets of mishniyot in the general sub-head of the "Holidays" section]. It is also the shabbos closest to my Grandfather Feld's yarhtziet (the anniversary of a death, often marked in Judaism for close relatives or important figures).

Hopefully, Aaron and I will finish Seder Mo'ed [the holidays section] before his Bar Mitzvah in two years. We do a siyum for him after each sefer mishniyot [subsection] to keep him encouraged.

I still find myself, from time to time, pondering over my relationship with my Grandfather. Of all my relatives of that generation, I was probably closest intellectually to him. In retrospect, I suppose he rather shamefully played favorites among the three of us because I had qualities he related to and an intellectual curiosity he often fed. Unbeknownst (I think) to my parents, while Iwas staying with my grandparents for a week one summer (even then Camp Grandmagrandpa was a good deal), he gave me a book of young adult stories from the Reform movement when I was ten which were, among other things, anti-Orthodox in that they challenge Orthodox precepts rather than using negative stereotypes about Orthodox Jews (ah, for the days when folks sought to make their cases on merit!). I suspect it was meant for Reform kids approaching or just after Bar/Bat Mitzvah age on why being Reform is the best path in modern American Judaism (although "modern" in the book was I think the 1950s -- my memory for the details is not that good).

We spent some time discussing it and the arguments it presented on various issues in a serious and fairly adult way that I enjoyed when 10 while seeing his favorite sights in NYC -- the 40th St. Library, the Natural History Museum, the planetarium (I don't remember which), and Coney Island. His key points were about always challenging one's self intellectually and never taking any arguments or assumptions for granted.

Of all my dead relatives, and I've now accumulated several. I find he's the one I tend to think about most.

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