The upright Baldwin piano that arrived at our home in Jerusalem on a lift of furniture that my parents had organized and paid for had not initially been expected. It worked out well that my father and most of my uncles had been in the furniture business. We received all of the quality furniture for free. So how did the piano end up on the lift?
One of the items that my parents requested that we order were shades for the very large living/dining room windows. I remember spending a fair of amount of time choosing them. One day I received an aerogram (remember those?) from my mother. In it, she apologized profusely that my uncle had forgotten to order the window shades, and so she and my father were sending a piano on the lift instead. At the time, I remember thinking, “So what’s the connection? But who cares, because we will have a piano – not a common commodity in Israel – in our home!”
In retrospect, it was part of a divine plan that was waiting to materialize years later.
I had taken a few years of piano lessons when I was a little girl. I had talent, but I didn’t like to practice. At some point I told my mother that I didn’t want to continue. She was not so happy about my decision, and she was correct – I would someday regret it.
Every so often I would sit down at the baby grand piano in my childhood home and play a few songs. I had learned enough to play piano on an intermediate level. During college I would play the piano that was in the dorm. I remember telling myself that I would practice a lot and try to make up for the lost years, but that idea petered out due to the many other obligations that I had. I even taught piano for a while when, as a married woman, I moved with my husband to our apartment in the Jerusalem neighborhood of Har Nof.
Pianos should be tuned on a yearly basis. The problem was that it was not so much in our budget. It wasn’t a necessity like food or water. Moreover, I would have loved to have been able to pay for piano lessons for our children who expressed interest in learning to play the piano, but we didn’t have the means. Once one of my uncles paid for a year or two of lessons for one of our daughters. Another daughter had a class in basic keyboard at school.
The first time that I asked a piano tuning company to send a tuner to our home, the tuner came along with someone else. It turned out that the tuner was blind. He had a very well-developed sense of hearing and did an excellent tuning job. The second time I called the same tuning company, a Russian-born piano tuner showed up at our home. Let’s call him Alex.
Now, I can’t help myself, but whenever I meet a Jew who is not religious, I usually endeavor to try to bring him closer to the beauty inherent in Judaism. This desire may stem from the fact that I grew up in a non-Shabbat observant home but learned about Judaism from the Orthodox Hebrew Day School that I had attended and through one of the youth organizations of which I was a member (the OU’s NCSY program).
I attempted to get into a conversation about Judaism with this Russian-accented piano tuner, but I seemed to be hitting a brick wall. He seemed totally indifferent. He finished tuning the piano and left.
The third time that I called for a piano tuner, a Russia-born man came, and I just assumed it was Alex. It turned out that it wasn’t Alex. This man was already somewhat knowledgeable about Judaism. He, like the others, did a good tuning job on our upright.
When the keys start sticking, I know it’s time to call the tuning company, but sometimes years can go by with the piano in this key-sticking status. I finally called the tuning company again to arrange for a piano tuner to come to our home.
On the appointed day and time there was a knock at our door. I opened the door to find a Russian-accented man. I welcomed him into our apartment. As he worked, he started asking me basic questions about Judaism. It turned out that it was Alex! I was stunned at the change in him. Before he left, I asked him if he would like someone to come to his home and talk to him about Judaism. He was open to it. I told him that I would call an organization I know and request that someone come to his home.
I guess the right chord had been hit!