The siddur is nothing special to look at. It is plain black with a flower embossed in its center. It was published in 1912 by The Hebrew Publishing Company and is most likely out of print.
So what is so special about this prayer book?
It belonged to my father, of blessed memory.
Daddy kept it locked in a special compartment in our breakfront. He took it out each morning when he davened by the window abutting the china closet. I can still see him shuckling,clad in his white silk tallit with blue embroidery.
He davened with such kavanah. And I wanted to daven just like him.
I was about six years old and, as I sat next to Daddy in shul,I moved my lips whispering whatever sounds I could think of.
“Daddy,” I exclaimed, “Is this how you daven?” Daddy’s response was a hearty laugh. I felt so proud of myself. It was only when I attended yeshiva and really learned how to daven that I appreciated Daddy’s sensitivity as well as his sense of humor.
Daddy was very proud of his name, Avraham Moonish. (Moonish is a derivative of the nameMenachem.) When Daddy was called up for an aliyah, he marched proudly to the bimah. On other occasions, because he was very strong, Baruch Hashem, he took great pride in accepting the honor of gelilah.
After davening, during the customary Kiddush, I felt like a little princess when Daddy put a piece of herring into a kichel and passed it on to me.
Afterwards, with jaunty steps, Daddy just about danced his way home holding hands with me.
Daddy had another special mitzvah that never failed to offer chizuk to the infirm or to those needing an extra measure of protection: making a Mi Shebeirach during kriat haTorah.
The time came when it was Daddy who needed special protection. But it was not to be.
On a hot Erev Shabbat, with Daddy looking very tired, I entreated my parents to remain with us for Shabbat. But Daddy told me that if he did, there would be no minyan in shulsince many men were away in their summer homes.
Of course, Daddy was right. But I never saw him again.
When we returned to the house from the hospital, the first thing I did was retrieve Daddy’s siddur from its special place. Holding it close I asked my mother and sister if I could keep it, and to my shock they said that I could.
To my mind, this siddur embodies the wonderful qualities that Daddy stood for.
It is so fragile that I had to put it away in my bookcase, but over time it became lost as more and more sefarim found their home there.
I couldn’t find it and became somewhat frantic. I went through several shelves of sefarim until I found it. To my delight, I noticed that my son had re-bound it. It was actually in better condition than an identical one that I had been given by one of the surviving members of a minyan in Bayonne a few years ago.
Davening from “our siddur,” I feel Daddy’s presence acutely. And just as his name Moonish denotes, I am comforted.
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