My home is furnished simply. One notes the customary family photos and bric-a-brac that makes a house a home, but certain items are my priceless treasures.
Upon entering the living/dining room, there is a shtender that must be at least 100 years old. It is a relic from my childhood shul. The rav was Rabbi Aaron R. Charney, zt”l. His brother was my uncle; thus as machatanim, so to speak, we called the rabbi “Uncle Rebbe.”
In a sense he represented a zaidie figure for me. Customarily, after the shul Kiddush, we would go next door to Uncle Rebbe’s home for the private family Kiddush. The rebbetzin had a lovely set of coral-colored little wine glezelach, each one with a little handle. I felt so grown up when the rav poured some wine into the glezel for me after he made Kiddush for his rebbetzin.
He had a small study upstairs where he wrote his sefarim. As one of the kids, I was permitted to go for rides on his office chair.
When the rebbetzin passed away Uncle Rebbe was inconsolable. And being in frail health, he moved to Manhattan to live with his daughter. The shul was shuttered and the contents dispersed. My father, a”h, was on the shul’s board. Upon returning home from a shul meeting he told us that we were permitted to take whatever items we wanted. I chose an ancient Tehillim and one of the shtenders.
Upon moving to Manhattan, Uncle Rebbe became just one of the many congregants in his shul. One Shabbos morning, I went with my friend to attend the minyan in order to visit my “uncle.” Looking down from the balcony of the vaiber (women’s) section, it pained me to see Uncle Rebbe sitting among the congregants rather than at the front of the shul behind his shtender. I couldn’t wait to see him up close, so we attended the shul Kiddush with him. To my surprise he noted with pride to one of the folks there, “She calls me Uncle!” I never knew until that moment how much the appellation meant to him.
Several decades later, my husband returned home from work one day with a package for me from Uncle Rebbe’s granddaughter, Vivian. It was Erev Purim and she had sent me mishloach manot. I found a tiny box inside. I knew, without opening it, what it contained: a beautiful, coral-hued tiny Kiddush glezel that turned out to be the only remaining one from the original set that the rav and rebbetzin used when they entertained us so many years before. Tucked inside was a note from Vivian. She wrote that when she renovated her apartment, she found the only remaining glezel. Knowing how devoted I was to her grandparents, she wanted me to have it.
So I keep this little cup in the special box, taking it out for special occasions. It is located in my china closet adjacent to the shul shtender, both loving reminders of a connection that transcends time.
I am indeed blessed.
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