Today is the last day of the sheloshim (30 days) period of mourning for my father. Rik and I attended morning minyan today and I asked to receive an aliyah. I had a teary moment hearing my father's name as I was called to the Torah. It's also the custom at our synagogue to mark such an occasion by chanting El Maleh Rachamim (God full of compassion), mentioning the departed by name, while the mourner holds a Torah scroll and afterwards says a few words about their loved one.
This is the memory I shared:
I was at Camp Tel Yehudah the summer when I was 13 or 14 and was offered an aliyah but didn't know my full Hebrew name. So I went to the pay phone and called my parents (collect), hoping they were home. (Remember the days of calling collect from pay phones?) I asked my dad to tell me my full Hebrew name, which he did. I distinctly remember standing in the summer sun on the porch of the staff house and office to make this call. And I never forgot my full Hebrew name -- Yachna Maryam bat Shimon Shir haKohen uMasha Leah. My dad was very proud of being a Kohen and wanted to be sure the camp gave me the proper aliyah -- the first one, that is always reserved for Kohanim.
Dad loved to cook and bake and so we brought goodies to share with the morning regulars and the good friends who came to support me: bagels, cream cheese and butter, herring in cream sauce, coffee and orange juice, and the special Cohen family onion cookies, which my grandmother taught to my father and he taught to me.
Bonus recipe -- to make herring in cream sauce, rinse and drain a jar of pickled herring in a colander. Slice an onion. Combine onion and herring in a bowl with some sour cream. Chill a few hours and enjoy!