Minyan – for Uncle Sol

I don’t think of myself as an especially spiritual person,  but some months ago I had a religious experience.

You may remember I blogged about two talented thespians in my family — my great-aunt Miriam and my uncle Sol.  (See THE ROAR OF THE GREASEPAINT,  June 15, 2015)

Miriam, a generation older, died many years ago,  but Sol died this past June,  just short of his 96th birthday.  Uncle Sol was a surrogate father of sorts to my husband,  and grandfather to my son,  and a much-loved presence in all our lives.

The night after his funeral we planned to gather at our apartment to remember him and recite the evening prayer.   Traditionally in Judaism a minyan – a quorum of ten men – is required to recite communal prayer,  so that afternoon I began to call friends and family to join us, and to ask the men to help form our minyan.

With such short notice many of the men couldn’t make it, so I made more phone calls.  But as I crossed names off my list and left more messages on answering machines,  I began to worry.  Would I be able to muster ten men at what was now the eleventh hour?  Would we have our minyan?

I thought of the Paddy Chayefsky play,  The Tenth Man,  and I thought of the countless minyans called to pray over the long arc of our Jewish history,  and of course I thought of Sol.

Then the phone began to ring.

“Count me in.”

“Of course I’ll come.”

“If you need me,  I’ll be there.”

I had our minyan!   And that night over lox and bagels we toasted Sol with his favorite schnapps.  Then,  as ten men stood in our livingroom to recite the evening prayer,  I felt a joyful rush deep in my soul.

Rest in peace Uncle Sol.

Dana Susan Lehrman


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