Remembering brings redemption
Traditionally, Jews have prepared for the holidays of Tishrei by reviewing events of the last year. There are some among us, though, who could not perform the year-end review as they suffer the assaults of time with little memory intact. Because of the Alzheimer’s epidemic and the growing tide of dementia in our community, many among us are lost in the timeless and sometimes wordless dimension of forgetfulness. So during those days that have just passed, when we fondly remember those who came before, when we revisit the anniversary of the creation of the world and when we ask to be remembered in the Book of Life, we should pause to remember those around us who cannot.
Those in our community with cognitive impairments also have difficulty participating in the social flow of life and live at the edges of our community. So often, they are forgotten as well. But it’s not just whom we are forgetting, but what we are forgetting. If we can remember the languages from yesteryear, the language of play, song, dance and storytelling, the open-hearted expressiveness of youth and even the intimacy created by a shared meal, we can forge a bond with those whom we might otherwise find ourselves forgetting.
In the Torah, Rosh Hashanah is referred to as “Yom HaZikaron,” or “the Day of Remembrance.” Memory rests at the heart of all we try to accomplish during the High Holidays and the rest of the year, and we can certainly work at being good “rememberers.” One way to do that is to recall the words of the Ba’al Shem Tov, who said, “Remembering is the source of redemption. Exile persists as long as one forgets.”
* * *
Fundraiser organizers thank community
University of Toronto medical students annually create a team called Breast Friends that raises money for Princess Margaret Hospital’s weekend to end women’s cancers. This year, an extraordinary group came together under the leadership of Nicola Goldberg and Melanie Kalbfleicsh. The team raised more than $17,000 over the year. The group held numerous bake sales for the medical students in both first and second year; they organized bar nights and post-exam parties, and they’re in the process of creating a cookbook with recipes from students, physicians and faculty to sell to the general public.
However, Breast Friends most exciting event of the year was their extremely successful Pink Tie Affair, held Aug. 30 at the Skybar Nightclub in Toronto. There were more than 500 young adults dressed in pink in attendance, and over $8,000 was raised. Sara Fairweather, Goldberg and I spent the last year organizing the event, and even we could not have imagined a more successful party. Other than medical students, there were hundreds of young Jewish adults in attendance. Without the support of the Jewish community, the amount of money raised and the number of tickets sold would not have been possible. It is so nice to see how our community comes together to support great causes.
* * *
Due to their rarity, the following Hebrew calendar phenomenon, set to occur in the Gregorian year 2013, might be of interest to your readers. At the present time, the first day of Pesach cannot occur any earlier in the Gregorian calendar than on March 26. This phenomenon last occurred 114 years ago in Greogrian year 1899 and will now happen on March 26, 2013. This earliest Pesach date will next occur 76 years from now in Gregorian year 2089. After that, the earliest Gregorian date for Pesach will be March 27. Pesach will first occur at this new earlier date in Gregorian year 2032.
Assuming that over unlimited time periods the calculation rules remain the same for both the Gregorian and Hebrew calendars, then after Gregorian year 2089, the first day of Pesach will again occur on March 26 in Gregorian year 79431 (corresponding to Hebrew Year 83191). However, at that time, March 26 will be the latest (and not the earliest) Gregorian date possible for the first day of Pesach. A very similar script applies to Rosh Hashanah 5774, whose first Gregorian day is Sept. 5, 2013.
* * *
The report that the U.S. House of Representatives considered a bill that would compel the administration to raise the issue of Jewish refugees in any international form in which Palestinian refugees are discussed is long overdue. For years, the Palestinians have argued for a right of return for those Arabs who left after the creation of the State of Israel. Little has been said about the almost one million Jews who were driven from Arab countries without compensation, many of whom found refuge and citizenship in Israel. In contrast, the Arabs who went to Arab states were placed in filthy camps and were usually never permitted to obtain citizenship in Arab countries. Since 1948, they have been supported by the United Nations, while the Jews driven from Arab lands have become hard-working, industrious and productive citizens of the State of Israel.
For demographic reasons, the Arabs who left Israel can never be granted the right of return. If the final solution is monetary compensation for Arab refuges, then that must be offset by the money due to those Jews whose property and possessions were expropriated as they were driven from Arab lands. The Arab countries will steadfastly refuse to make any payment, and, therefore, the end result will be a wash, and Israel will not be obliged to pay anything.