Baseball, Poker & the Past
“Reminiscences,” complains G. B. Shaw in Heartbreak House, “makes one feel so deliciously aged and sad.” While older than many, I am not at all sad reminiscing about our Brotherhood’s active participation in the life of our Temple since Sy Ettinger, our first president, exhorted us to be true to our Jewish values and not try to compete with Sid Caesar’s Your Show of Shows.
Brotherhoods, “since the time when synagogue-affiliated fraternal groups, or landsmanschaften [Yiddish for countrymen organizations] from the Eastern European emigration organized worship services in storefronts and homes, raising money to sponsor immigrating relatives, purchasing land for cemetery plots, and creating free loan societies . . . all adding to the developing network for each community” (The Evolution of Jewish Brotherhood, mgerr.jewishtimes.com). Our MLRT Brotherhood community, too, has followed the principles of this collective past that began in the early nineteen hundreds and was officially created at MLRT in 1954. Note that, just as organized worship then often began in private homes, so, too, MLRT began by holding services wherever it could, such as at the Haverford Friend’s facility; as well, MLRT has recently purchased cemetery plots at the West Laurel Hill. This is all by saying that our Brotherhood continues in the proud tradition of this nation’s Brotherhoods, giving service to our own Temple, while striving always, whether in service or fellowship, to embrace Jewish values.
So now for some reminiscing. As you have suspected, timing interferes with actual events having already taken place prior to submitting these monthly articles. March was filled with several noteworthy events that I chose not to give short shrift to them. First was the extraordinarily attended Second Annual Sports Dinner. More than fifty men gathered for food, drink, and light-hearted banter, all while listening to Glen Macnow impart his vast knowledge of the Philadelphia sports scene. The unspoken feeling of community was palpable at this gathering. With Sisterhood as a co-sponsor, we came together at a pre-Purim celebration; at the Purim Carnival the next day we, as always in the past, worked the food booth, donating all proceeds to the Religious School having also purchased all the food that was for sale. The Early Childhood Education pre-school, an incredible asset at MLRT, was pleased to receive our contribution to its Spring Ad Book.
Hard to accept that time’s unyielding hand (forgive the Pathetic Fallacy) brings my tenure as your president to its inevitable conclusion in a few weeks. I am neither sad nor forlorn that, as of yet, no Brother has considered to volunteer a bit of time, a little passion, a keen desire to perpetuate the landsmanshaften fervor of years gone by. For this I know: someone will fill in the blank that precedes “Brotherhood President” on the name badge so proudly worn by me and all my predecessors.
MLRT Brotherhood President