I am continuing with some of my more favorite or important It’s Wednesday columns. This would fall in the former category. Occasionally I permitted myself, with your indulgence, to share news about my family. This one from May of 2009 seems timely on at least two levels.
The years do fly by. If I may digress from my usual Wednesday agenda of saving the world, or at least Judaism or some of its adherents, let me report that on Sunday Gail and I got to watch our son Marc graduate from college. The first two notes of Trumpets Voluntary were enough to start the flow of tears. While many of you remember Marc racing around the shul with his teddy bear, just a few months ago it seems, we were remembering that and much more. And we were thinking of our own college graduations, at which nobody was texting or tweeting, and feeling extremely old. Graduations are always bittersweet events, marking good passages in life that we prayed for (and paid for), but also reminding us that we (the parents) are on our own life’s journey and our rest stops are getting more frequent.
There was a special irony to this particular graduation. Decades ago, as I was almost finishing my PhD in Biblical Studies, I applied for a faculty position in the Religious Studies Department at Haverford College. I was brought in to give two lectures and speak with faculty. I wasn’t bad, but an Israeli academic with many years in the field and 35+ articles to his name got the position. Their bad luck. But I went on to work in Hillel for 23 amazing years, even visiting Haverford a few times to do my evaluation/ trouble shooting thing that I did in that part of my life. By the time Marc decided to apply to Haverford, I had about forgotten my own experience there. Now of course I think about it, mostly because it is a reflection on how our lives are often determined by accidents of history. Had I been offered the position those decades ago, I would have accepted it and likely have been on the Haverford faculty my whole life, as it is an amazing campus and an idyllic work situation. Of course I would never have met Gail then, and Marc would not exist as he does now. I would never have known either of them, and likely never have known you either. “Man plans and God laughs.” Still true.
Many other of Marc’s original Beth El group also graduated in recent weeks. Those parents have their own stories to tell, their own sets of memories, their own trepidations as their kids embark on their life journey in a very uncertain world. I hope I speak for them too in thanking God and our community for helping to bring our kids and us to this happy occasion.
Reflect upon graduations in your own life, get some goose bumps, and have a good Wednesday. Bill Rudolph
Back to now. Marc went on to do City Year, then earn a Master’s in Education from Bank Street College, and is now teaching elementary school in Boston. As you may recall, he met Karen Terry in the middle of their freshman year, nine years ago. They were married this summer in the Hudson Valley. Guess who got to officiate? Karen is finishing a Master’s at Harvard Divinity School. We hope to see them twice in May, early on for our first grandchild Bat/Bar Mitzvah and then in mid May for some shul event. Even more important, they are loyal readers of It’s Wednesday!
Have a good day, and enjoy the remaining days of Passover. Once it starts, Passover is one of my two favorite holidays (Sukkot the other.) Wishing you Moadim L’Simchah – may your holiday be a joyful one. Bill Rudolph