My uncles Moe and Ben were the oldest, roundest, and most complicated of my mother's four brothers. Moe resembled the "o" in the middle of his name, and seemed to encircle and embrace everyone in his path. He met my Aunt Lily when they were twelve; rumor has it that he was late to his Bar Mitzvah because they were smooching behind the synagogue. Lily was tiny and gentle and spoke very quickly, like a bee flitting past a flower. Moe became a butcher (non-kosher; he had no patience for a tradition that kept other people from his food) to make sure his family always had enough to eat. He retired to Miami Beach and the stock market, tutoring my mother on weekly long-distance calls about what to buy and sell. (Moe made a small fortune, and my mother approximately $131. But she really did try.) I was always his "little goil," since he sounded just like Archie Bunker, his neighbor back in Queens. The resemblance was in accent only; his former employee and best friend was an African-American man by the name of Jonesy, a tall, handsome version of Moe's smile. I remember seeing Jonesy at Moe's funeral wearing a white yarmulke incandescent against his dark skin, tears streaming down his face.
(To be continued.)
As I toil over writing my tiny d'var on Parashat Tetzaveh, I've decided to add some links on my sidebar to sites with interesting Torah commentary. The first is this great one, featuring the opinions of teachers for whom I have deep admiration.