life in and around NYC is insane

Tuesday, September 15, 2015

L'shanah Tovah

L'Shanah Tovah. Happy New Year. The words sound strangely dissonant in the corridors of the hospital.

We exchange New Year's greetings with the surgeon, the anesthesiologist, the respiratory therapist. It feels like everyone managing my father's case is Jewish, headed home to a holiday dinner.

A family story I have heard, it happened before I was born, pops into my head. My paternal grandmother died "Erev Pesach", the night before Passover; they went home from the hospital and made a Seder.

L'Shanah Tovah. May you be inscribed in the Book of Life. It has a very different meaning in the surgical suite, in the ICU.

Our "holiday" dinner: takeout Chinese food. There was no time, and no desire, to cook the brisket, the matzoh balls, the chicken soup. We will have our celebration when my father comes home.

In the morning I walk to synagogue, my thoughts all jumbled. My father never wanted to be like this, old and sick and weak. He's 88 years old, who knows how long he'll be with us? He survived this crisis, but what comes next? I stand for the Mishaberach, the prayer for someone who is ill. I ask the Almighty to do what is best for my father.

I leave services early, before the Rabbi's sermon. I have to drive my mother to the hospital. We get caught in a traffic jam on the street leading to the hospital -- I have forgotten that there are three synagogues on that half-mile stretch. (No, really. If you start walking north from the Reform temple, you'll walk past the house where Young Israel holds its services before you arrive at the Conservative synagogue.)

The young Rabbi from the local Chabad comes by my father's room, he gives us apples and honey for a sweet New Year. We ask him not to blow the Shofar, I'm afraid the trumpeting sound will startle and upset my father. I tell him my father's Hebrew name; he will say a Mishaberach for my father in synagogue the next day. It's customary to make a donation to the synagogue,but since no money may be handled on the holy day, I will have to send a check later.

Yet another doctor stops by to check on my father.. He is also Jewish. It's becoming something of a joke, there are many doctors here of other ethnic persuasions, but we don't seem to be encountering anyone who isn't celebrating the New Year, He tells us my father is improving, he will recover from this latest crisis.

L'Shanah Tovah. A sweet new year.

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