Wednesday, January 3, 2018

A Year of Mourning- The New Normal

Toronto is a great city in which to be Jewish. It's a unique place where it's still relatively easy to be Jewish, observant or not, wherever you are on the spectrum. I have a plethora of Conservative synagogues from which to choose.

As we venture back into real life schedules (although kids don't go back to school until next week), the multitude of minyanim allows me to fit them to my schedule. Tuesday 7:30 am Shacharit at Pride of Israel with 4:45 pm Mincha/Maariv at Beth Emeth to be followed by Wednesday morning 8:00 am at Beth David. we'll see where I end up for the afternoon.

Through all this I realize there are many people who still don't know my father died, and more that do be I have not yet seen. Each new (though not really new) place I attend minyan, each person I see for the first time brings all the feelings to the surface. Does this have a finite end? Does it stop when I've davenned at all the Conservative synagogues in the GTA, or does it continue when I'm elsewhere in Canada, in the US, or in Israel? Here it's hard to be just a person attending minyan. Sometimes I just want to find a corner in the room and pray privately. This is the value of a regular minyan, where you are known, but left alone if you want.

I've spoken with many who share the experience of mourning. You can't know it until you've been there. I knew this before, but am willing to admit I didn't fully know it. Back at my desk I am distracted. Getting work done, but something is off. I am lucky. I work for two wonderful organizations with understanding leadership. It makes getting back to work easier (and doesn't hurt that the only other person in my office is a very close friend). I hear from many of the difficulties of going back into the world. Outsiders don't get it. People don't understand why you're not "fine" when you come back to work. It's even worse for those who don't observe shiva or shloshim. When do they truly mourn?

We marked the shloshim at shul on Shabbat, the kids braving the cold on a day they'd rather have been hibernating. We provided kiddush, Sean opting for parve over meat. (A successful choice by the looks of what everyone ate.) We left it to late to be in the Shabbat bulletin, but that didn't matter. It's not about the publicity; it's about the personal. I read haftarah. Comfortable and yet uncomfortable, like so much else.

Shloshim ended, but in mourning for a parent not much changes. There is still the rest of the year.  Some restrictions will remain, others less so. I believe in practical Judaism, a Judaism that is adaptive and responsive. Our traditions have created loopholes which allow us to say, "How can we do that," rather than simply saying no. It's about finding ways to live positively rather than restrictively. It means my daughter has new shirts she's wearing that she'll give to me so I have appropriate clothes with short sleeves for my tefillin. I bought a new coat. I didn't have one. I gave mine away last year. The day my father died was the day I planned on shopping. It's been dangerously cold. The law about not buying new clothes was created at a time when new clothes were a special occasion, not things you could purchase in the supermarket. True necessity takes precedence, as does the safety of being properly attired for the weather. Haircuts were Sunday, but not for me. I have a year with no reason beyond vanity to do so. There will be no live entertainment, but I have no problem with movies. I wasn't ready during shloshim, but feel it's okay now. Still, I don't seem to like music. I drive without the radio, unusual for me. Time is clearly needed.

A special shoutout to Joe and Tiara Catering for gifting us the (very delicious) food for my father's shloshim even beyond what we'd ordered. (And not mentioning anything until Sean tried to pay afterward.) You have been a supportive friend since our arrival at the Pride of Israel. Thank you.

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