Sunday, June 26, 2005

The Benchers

Back in college a professor assigned Stop Time by Frank Conroy to prove that you can write about anything, the key being how you write. The teacher’s favorite part was a riveting chapter about a yo-yo. This memory popped up as I read a recent post of Rochelle Krich. She had me from the title: Birkonim. Birkonim (Hebrew)/benchers (Yiddish)/are pocket size editions of Grace After Meals that are given as souvenirs of weddings and bar mitzvahs.

For today’s Sunday morning project I will randomly pick from my shoebox of benchers and describe to you what I see and feel. The first one I pick up is this metaphor and memory: the bencher from a 2001 wedding of a former student. This one makes me think of how I’d like to be married. This student was twenty when he got married (if that). I saw him again last year at the Israel Day Parade and he congratulated me on my engagement. The awkwardness that followed stemmed from the fact that this engagement was news to me. I am not yet married even though I am of age. (When people say that I "never married," the words have a ring of finality to them that I experience as judgmental and hurtful.)

Next my hand finds a booklet from the 1993 wedding of a young friend/student from my yeshiva days. I was dating someone seriously at the time and remember telling a concerned rabbi of mine about it at the wedding, much to his excitement.

Next: 1996, the wedding of the son of a rabbi/mentor of mine. It was a large chassidic affair. Rabbi Norman Lamm was there and several Chasidim asked me for the scoop: "does he know anything?"

Next up: the bencher from a dear friend’s second wedding. His first wife succumbed to depression, died of suicide. May her soul and memory be blessed. Sigh.

Next, I grab a handful of identical benchers. These are from a performance I took part in back in 1998 at a dinner in the Huntington Hilton. Something went awry and the show ended prematurely. Some time after the show I noticed mixed in with my stuff from the show his giant stack of benchers. I may yet use them for something.

Next I choose one from 1992. My friend Nachy convinced me to co-chaperone a sleep away bar mitvah. What a nightmare that was. But at least I have a souvenir from it, my favorite kind of bencher, the NCSY Special.

This concludes the first installment of The Bencher Show. My thanks to my favorite mystery writer, Rochelle Krich, for the original idea. Have a good day. And don’t forget to bench. I can’t believe I ended with that line. Gotta go, we’re outa time.


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