This wonderful Tikkun Leil Shavuot is named for my dear brother, Paul, who died in a car accident 24 years ago. He had not yet celebrated his 30th birthday.
For my parents, Arthur and Fay; for his wife, Paula; and for me, his tragic loss has left a sadness that never goes away, but in the Jewish tradition, we find ways to memorialize him and keep his spirit with us. A few years ago, when Michelle and I were raising money for the JCC, we realized that the Tikkun would be a wonderful way to memorialize him. My three boys, Zachary, Benjamin, and Jacob, never got to meet my brother. I really believe the atmosphere of the Tikkun captures much of his energy and sentiment.
Paul loved the arts and was the son who inherited the talent from my parents. He sang, played guitar and drums, acted in theater, and wrote music and screenplays. He loved to cook, drink wine, and enjoy innovative foods. He also had a passion for learning and reading. I remember him always having a book in his hand, filled with excitement to tell a story about something he had just learned. Paul was a proud Jew who loved Jewish traditions.The Tikkun would have really stirred his passions and the only issue he might have had would have been choosing which of the many great classes to attend at any one time. He was an early riser, so might have also had a tough time making it to a 3 am class.
I really hope that from somewhere up in the sky, Paul is watching the Tikkun, excited to hear my friend Moshe and I discuss the Israeli show Shababnikim (The New Black), which he would have loved. He might have even worn a Borsalino to the session. I will certainly bring mine along.
I am grateful to Rabbi Joanna Samuels for her leadership of the JCC and for ensuring that this wonderful tradition continues. I am so appreciative of Rabbi Joy Levitt, who conceptualized and engineered this amazing New York City tradition, and of Sarah-Kay Lacks, who inherited the mantle and has done an amazing job with it. I’d also like to thank Dr. Yizhar Hess, vice chairman of the World Zionist Organization, for coming to New York from Israel to partner with us and run a track. We had initially worked together on creating an egalitarian Kabbalat Shabbat at the Kotel when he was at Masorti and he contacted me in his new position to see what the WZO could do with the JCC. It shows that really one good deed creates another... מצווה גוררת מצווה
I am also so appreciative of my friend Moshe Horn, who worked with Sarah-Kay, Megan Whitman, and me to generate new and exciting topics and speakers for the Tikkun, and who always has a good idea to counter each of my bad ones.
I wish everyone a chag sameach, good health, and hope that you all enjoy the Tikkun and treasure it as I do.
Chair of the Board, Marlene Meyerson JCC Manhattan