On Rosh Chodesh Tamuz (ok, it takes me a while to blog things) my first-born grandson received his first siddur.
All the first graders, each one accompanied by a parent made the trip in a chartered bus from Mizpe Ramon to the Kotel Hamaravi in Jerusalem. They were given a tour of the of the Kotel Tunnels (click here for an amazing virtual tour) followed by lunch and mincha. Saba and I joined them (and other proud grandparents as well) as they were given their first siddur by Rav Shlomo Aviner the head of Yeshivat Ateret Cohanim located in the Old City.
It is one of those moments where I have to ask myself how it is that we are so priviledged to merit this.
My thoughts naturally turned to my own first siddur given to me in the presence of my classmates and our families at a special Sunday gathering somewhere perhaps in Kew Gardens. It was in a small hall which had a stage. My teacher and the principal asked the grandfathers to come up to hand us our books. To them, our grandfathers represented the tradition being passed on. But though I had the amazing good fortune to be accompanied by two grandfathers, most of classmates had none. Many of their parents were holocaust survivors (although they were called D.P.s or maybe refugees). They had no grandparents. My American parents were special because although their own Jewish education was basic they realized the importance giving us the kind of formal religious education that they missed out on during the Great Depression. So there we were, ready to take our place in the chain of tradition. As children usually do, I took that moment for granted. But I was young and now I have grown old and I am so thankful to my parents for that opportunity and Hashem for this priviledge.
It's nice to spend a day marvelling at how far we've come. Hold onto that thought, we still have a long way to go.
Welcome new Israelis at HH#225 where Maya did an excellent job of gathering and organizing the Jewish and Israeli blog posts of the week. She also has a really nice blog which I'm glad I 'discovered'.