May 31, 2010

Remembering Dad

Today is the second yahrzeit for my father, Sheldon Charles Cohen, zichrono l'vracha, may his name be a blessing.

In his memory, last night I lit a 24-hour yahrzeit candle and this morning we went to morning minyan. Since it was a Monday, in addition to the regular short service, we read from the Torah. And as the daughter of a Kohen, I was honored with the first aliyah. (Miracle of miracles, there were four Kohanim AND a Levi present!) At the end of the Torah service, mourners have an opportunity to remember their loved ones in the prayer El Maleh Rachamim (God full of compassion). Although my still-weakened left arm prevented me from holding the Torah, I was able to chant the prayer.

Our shul also gives mourners the chance to say a few words. Here's what I said about my dad:
My father enlisted in the US Army in 1945, at the tail end of World War II, just before he turned 18. Given that his yahrzeit fell on Memorial Day this year, I think he'd want me to tell you a little bit about his service to our country.

For my dad, the war was an opportunity for a very young man to see the world. Serving in the Army Corps of Engineers as a truck driver, he once ran out of gas somewhere in France. Having learned a little bit of French, he hiked back to the closest village, where he made a telephone call. He said to the operator, in his Bronx-accented French, “Le militaire American.” The operator didn’t understand his accent, so he repeated “Le militaire American.” Eventually they connected him and the Army came by with more gas.

Because my dad loved to feed people, after the brief service, Rik and I offered everyone a nosh of bagels and cream cheese, orange juice, and a special treat my father loved -- key lime tarts.

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