The Rabbi’s Words

 

(Confessions Blog 1)

 

In observance of Yom Kippur, the day of atonement, forgiveness, and honoring those who have died, I arranged to read a story at Story Salon to commemorate the holiday and maybe get some extra chuckles because it took place in a San Francisco saloon.

“I Left My Heart at the Buena Vista” is about an evening spent with my best friend, Charlotte, and one of the most attractive men I have ever met. His invitation to go tea dancing at the Hyatt was thrilling for me, but not my friend. I called it a story of forgiveness and atonement and had a problem saying it with a serious face.

Generally, I have not taken my book seriously as a work of great significance or something more than a “slim volume” that makes a good gift for an elderly woman undergoing chemo therapy or taking a plane trip. That was until yesterday.

Rabbi Telushkin presented a Yom Kippur sermon in the grand ballroom of the Sportsmen’s’ Lodge, a local site for weddings, bar mitzvahs and holy day services. In it he talked about the importance of finding the goodness not only in other people, but even more importantly, in ourselves.

Like a light bulb suddenly turning on, I did a flashback to the Sunday before when I did a “Meet the Author” reading in the home of a friend in Pasadena. She had invited two of her book clubs made up of mostly retired elementary school teachers.

The late afternoon wine and cheese table spread was lavish. I was hoping that the home baked cakes and exotic cheeses and variety of wines would sweeten and loosen the rather prim looking assemblage. Even the hostess voiced a concern about the possibility of a few of the more elderly women being offended by the raciness of the stories.

I decided not to read about nude swimming in the Yuba River and replaced it with a story about two school teachers meeting “Two Gentlemen from Bagdad” at a Teachers’ Convention.

There was laughter, but it was subdued like Pasadena environs. There were few chuckles and a sprinkling of smiling faces.

When I finished with the play which usually gets great applause but didn’t that afternoon, a friend took the cue as rehearsed and asked to buy one of the books stacked next to me. I pulled forth a pen and began signing. Guests refilled their plates, found their purses and came forth to buy a book and tell me how much they enjoyed the stories I read.

What really thrilled me was the little white haired woman in a heavy sweater who came up to me later and whispered, “You are an inspiration.” I didn’t ask for what? I just observed a bright sparkle in her eyes.

Another woman asked hopefully for suggestions on how to meet men. The feeling of the afternoon was one of enjoyment and hopefulness not often found in books about older men and women.

Thank you, Rabbi Telushkin. Glad I left a donation for your temple. You made me see that I have a talent for making people laugh and feel hopeful about the possibility of romance in their lives.

 

Lila Lee Silvern

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