Monday, October 21, 2002

Supportive Cast

Last Thursday was the seventh anniversary of the assassination of Yitzhak Rabin. Hard to believe it’s been seven years. The two main television channels were filled with talk shows and documentaries; the radio mixed in an appropriate percentage of somber and patriotic songs with the latest from Avril Lavigne and Monika Sex. And at Meravi’s school, her fourth grade class was in charge of leading the annual memorial ceremony.

It was a beautiful affair, tasteful and understated. The class was dressed in matching blue and white and interspersed the reading of passages about Rabin’s life with the songs we have come to associate with the former Prime Minister: Naomi Shemer’s “Tomorrow,” “Bab-el-Wad,” “Cry to You” from Aviv Gefen. The whole school from Grades 1-6 sat, remarkably well behaved, on the floor of the multi-purpose room.

I don’t remember either leading or attending these kinds of ceremonies in elementary school when I was growing up. Maybe there weren’t appropriate events to memorialize: the one with the greatest parallel – the Kennedy assassination – was already buried by the grisly reports emanating from Vietnam. And Memorial Day had long since been transformed from a day of remembrance to one of foot-longs and watermelon.

We did take stage a few times, though. In the fifth grade, at Meadows Elementary School, I was in the supporting cast of the annual Christmas play. It was a Mommy-kissing-Santa-Claus cliche of a story, written by our class’s teacher, Mr. Bratt. I played the long-suffering husband.

But the big deal for me was that, at one point in the show, I was supposed to kiss my wife goodnight, and I had a big-time crush on Bonnie Posluch, the girl who was playing her. Imagine my dismay when she turned her cheek, thwarting my anxiously anticipated moment of supreme pre-teen validation. A stage kiss perhaps? I don’t think so…

Puppy love aside, when I think back to my formative acting experience and then compare it with my daughter and her class, I marvel at how things have changed, how my children's formative experiences are qualitatively so different than my own. As they led the school in “Jerusalem of Gold” rather than "Jingle Bell Rock," it was abundantly clear how at least this one family’s collective Jewish soul has evolved in ways entirely unexpected…and most welcome. We have gone from a small role in the supporting cast to being an integral part of a truly supportive cast: an entire nation of shared interests and history, on this day remembering one who is no longer with us.

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