C. and I became friends because we sat near each other at Saturday morning services. She came to say kaddish for her father; I was there to figure out why I was there. We took classes together and she always asked the kind of questions that made everyone stay late, while I tried to fade into the background, intimidated by rabbis who were human and a roomful of people who seemed to know everything in the Talmud.
"I want to learn to chant Torah," she said one day at kiddush. "I want to learn from S." They had gone to college together. S. was small and blonde with a beautiful, sweet voice that had an edge, like an angel in a leather jacket. She tutored bar mitzvah kids and led High Holy Day services; I had no idea S. was a plain old member of the congregation and not a cantor.
"I want my friends to learn with me. So?" said C.
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