Our Families, Our Times, and Our 30th Anniversary Celebration
Originally shared with the SJCS Community in March 2022, in anticipation of the school's 30th Anniversary Celebration.
I have been thinking a great deal about family of late. As I always do, just more. One spur was several joyful events in our family. Last week, my niece got married in Israel, and my wife and daughter were able to attend. This week, a new great-niece entered the family. She is the 16th great-grandchild born to my mother, and we have two more on their way. בשעה טובה / B'sha-a Tova (May it happen at a "good time"). Another of my nieces will also be getting married in July. We are blessed with great opportunities to celebrate.
The recent celebrations also came with complexities: my daughter got COVID and then my wife did -- as did the bride, the groom, my brother (the father of the bride), the bride's mother ... you get the picture. My daughter has made it back to law school, having missed more classes than she anticipated, and I am eagerly awaiting my wife's return. Hopefully tomorrow.
And, the terrible (and inexcusable) humanitarian crisis in Ukraine also has me thinking about family. We know the least about my paternal grandfather's line -- which seems to have been riven by the disruptive feuds too common in Eastern European families. We do know the Zimands were from Ukraine. My grandfather was born in Sokal, near Lviv, in the Western part of the country.
All the disruptions of recent years have given us many poignant reminders of the inestimable value of family ties. Even as the pandemic isolated us, it also brought the silver lining of necessitating new ways to connect, not rivals for the face-to-face or the arm-in-arm, but still steps up in intentionality and regularity. I can certainly say that I have kept in better touch with my far-flung family in the last two years than I had in the years that preceded them.
In this context of family being at the forefront of mind and heart and memory, I felt extra delight in reading about great work underway in each of our cohorts that involves honoring family traditions and reaching back across generations. I am eager to see the mapping work the Shorashim will do, presenting the varied locations of their families' origins, and to give a try to some of the traditional recipes the Anafim and Rimonim will gather in their Passover Cookbook. I am also proud of the civic consciousness of the Rimonim as they seek to find good ways to speak out about the tragedies and atrocities in Ukraine, with an awareness deepened by recognitions that many of our family stories and stories as a people are filled with tales of refugees' plights, with a good number of our forebears escaping from Ukraine as it happens, as well as from other countries.
Our upcoming celebration of the school's 30th anniversary also links to themes of families and generations. This is true in an emblematic literal sense, as we prepare to welcome a second-generation student to the school, the third grandchild of the school's founding President, Elaine Sachter, at SJCS. 30 is also a number associated with a generation. I hope many of you will be able to join me and representatives of the school's generations, as we celebrate the visions and accomplishments passed to us, which we now carry forward מדור לדור / M'dor L'dor (from generation to generation).