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Recollections of Ruvan N. Cohen

I was in the Main Sanctuary the other evening. Alone.

I stood for a moment in the spot where Nathaniel used to Duchanfrom, flanked by me and Tobi Kahn, who taught me about המקום קדושת as weduchaned together in that spot for the five years since Nathaniel’s passing. I always thought of that as Nathaniel’s spot. I looked over to the amud, where both Nathaniel and Jonathan had their Brit Milah. I looked over to Shelley’s seat on the aisle in the women’s section, seeing her beaming smile when our children davened or spoke. Of seeing her tears matching mine when moments of memory overtook us. I looked over to the stairs in the Men’s section, farthest away from the entrance ramp.

I remember holding both boys in my arms when they were little, happy that they were growing up in a place that has a sense of התפלה קדושת . Watching them climb up and down the stairs, at first just because they were there, then later to get candy from Mr. Hutmacher z”l, Mr. Eisler z”l, and then to getting from the private stock of Dr. Mark.

I remember my children befriending Max Grodnick z”l and Mr. Graubart z”l, both nonagenarians. I remember relishing being able to hold Jackie and have her sit with me, and the sadness that I felt as she approached her Bat Mitzvah, knowing that her place in our Shul was now to be exclusively next to her mother. I looked over at the second row in the first part of men’s section, where I sat when I first started coming to LSS regularly, next to Mark Weiner, Richard Kestenbaum, right behind Mr. Feld, z”l, as we shared the challenges that Hashem had presented us with.

I thought of those who filled this building with holiness. Of Rabbi Riskin and his call “אחרי” on his last Shabbat before he made aliyah. Of Rabbi Berman’s animal stories – Tales of the Misnagdim – told on Shabbat Shuva and Shabbat HaGadol. Of Rabbi Cohen z”tl telling me that I was foolish for not adopting the minhag to bless my children on Friday night just because my father only did so on Erev Yom Kippur. Of Rabbis Brander, Weinberg, Penner, Mintz, and Braun. Of Rabbi Robinson whose relentless love healed our community and gave us strength as we faced seemingly unsolvable problems.

But, perhaps more that anyone, the Chaz נ״י, whose kindness and soulfulness gave flight to thankful prayers at times of joy and solace to my wounded heart at times of devastation. Who taught my children for their Bnai and Bat Mitzvah and lessons for the rest of their lives.

But as I stood in that spot, the moment of entering the completely full Sanctuary for Nathaniel’s levaya, seeing his Aron standing in “his spot,” of saying goodbye to him for the last time in the place that he loved so much filled me with a realization of how much of my life has played out in this holy place. Thanks to the extraordinary generosity of spirit of loving friends he will certainly be remembered in our new building. But his holy spirit along with those of so many who made this place special will now be confined to our hearts.

May Hashem bless each of us and help us find joy, peace and comfort in our beautiful, new building. I will miss this place.

Wed, November 30 2022 6 Kislev 5783