Jonah Parker Bar Mitzvah

  1. Parsaha Terumah -5-6 Adar 5777 = March 3-4, 2017

Thursday March 2, 2017:

Hopped on a 2:00 PM flight to Los Angeles.  I hadn’t been to LA since late December 2015.  My seat placement on Southwest was C 04 so I had to sit in a middle row. Someone thin was in the aisle seat so it was not bad.   Arrived in LA and needed a Minyan so I could say Kaddish for Beverly OBM.  Hopped on the 405 and was sailing along until I hit traffic and was stalled, missed Mincha.  I called Martin Brody and we made up to meet at the Fish Grill on Pico and Beverly.  I had a very nice dinner with Madelaine and Martin.  Left about 8:00 PM to go crosstown to daven Maariv at Rabbi Bess’s Shul.   After Maariv my classmate from high school, Sheldon Burg, came over to say hello.  I did not recognize him.  I look the same as in high school.

Met up with Tziporah, my niece, and she wanted to go to the Yogurt place on La Brea.  Afterwards went to the place  I was staying in Hancock Park, on Las Palmas.    My host was very gracious.  

Friday – March 3, 2017:

Woke up at 8:00 AM and went to daven at the red shul at the corner of La Brea and Oakwood.  I love going to that Shul as it is a New York style shul, wooden floors, many Minyanim, and a place where the Mishulachim hang out.  There are sweet rolls for visitors.    Met Kornwasser.  Went to the Mikvah in the Shul.  It was only $2.00 and did not have a turnstile to keep people out.  It was old school with the towels threadbare.  I loved it.  

After the prayer services went to La Brea Bagel Co. at 7308 Beverly.  The Parkers graciously paid for any food ordered from La Brea Bagel using the attached coupon.  I got there and my cousins were already there; Piala and Charles, Michael Parker and kids.  A few minutes later in walks Sasha mother of the Bar Mitzvah boy.   Afterwards in walks Zlat, David, Laura and kids.  Afterwards in walks Shoshana and her husband, with their baby.    It was great.  I also met Michael’s Rosh Yeshiva, Rabbi Dovid Hirsch, and Rabbi Hirsch’s wife.  Rabbi Hirsch grew up in Peoria and knew my namesake, Harry Morgenstern.  Rabbi Hirsch knows Rabbi Joshua Hoffman, who needs a Refuah Shelamah.

Walked back to La Palmas to pick up my car.  I realized that 17 years ago when my mother and I came to LA for Sasha and Michael’s wedding, we stayed a few doors down by Joe Bobker.

Went to visit Aunt Florence at the assisted living facility on Fairfax, Garden of Palms, just south of Santa Monica.  On the way, went back to La Brea Bagel and picked up two sandwiches to have food for the day.  Sorry, Michael.   Visited Aunt Florence, however, she was exhausted and she slept while I visited.  So I sat down and likewise dozed off for the 45 minutes I was by Aunt Florence.  

Went to Hollywood Boulevard and to my father’s apartment building at the corner of Hawthorne and Sycamore.  Sat down and had one of my sandwiches at the Hollywood/Highland shopping center.  The number of street performers seems to have grown.  Many superheroes.  

Afterwards went to the storage unit housing my father’s belongings to commune with my father’s spirit.   Opened the storage unit.  It is jam packed with items and I was not able to get into the unit.  I looked through the books he had.  There was an Ain Yaakov.  Most interesting he had a number of holocaust books.  I read through the introduction on one of them.    It was a book on Auschwitz.  In the introduction the author wonders why the Jews made it easy for the Germans and went to the killing centers.  We didn’t they make the Germans aim of killing every Jew as difficult as possible.  This is a question I thought about.  In fact Dr. Hillel Zeidman wrote in late 1943 that  Rabbi Menachem  gave a talk to the leaders of the Jews in the Warsaw ghetto.  Rabbi Ziemba said we should fight the Nazi’s and lamented the fact the Jews walked to the Umschlagplatz and onto the trains, making it easier for the Germans.  I  do not understand in Hungary 1944 after the death camps  were known, there was not a Psak that it is Assur to board the trains.  Stay in your houses. I know if is easy for me to say, sitting here in America.

Went back Las Palmas to get ready for Shabbos.  

Shabbos – Friday night

Made it on time to Yavneh.  Yavneh is a school on Third and Highland.

The principal, Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn, has a Shul  He was a student and in the same class as the mother of the Bar Mitzvah boy.    It’s very nice, like a lecture hall, with the rows of seating rising up like an amphitheater.  I sat next to Zlat’s husband, David.  I saw a nice Ibn Ezra at the beginning of Parshas Trumah.     Avi Maza davened and it was a concert, combining Carlbach with other songs.   

The Shul is phenomenal.  It is what a Shul should be with community, Torah, a  Rov who gets it.  

Walked to Sasha and Michael’s house for the Friday night dinner.  His house was full of family who came for the bar Mitzvah.   It was overwhelming.  I met Eve and her husband  Charles parker’s cousin .  She is a daughter of Rabbi Mordechai Simon OBM.  My mother worked for Rabbi Mordechai Simon years ago at the Chicago Board of Rabbis.  My mother and Rabbi Simon were the Shadchanim for Piala and Charles.   There was a tent set up for the meal in the back yard.  I sat with Zlat and David, Laura, Amy, Elliot, Avi and Dr. Lauren.  The conversation was stimulating and I was honored to be with the Maza’s.

 Sassha’s brother spoke like a Torah Scholar.  He spoke over Torah of Rabbi Joseph Maza’s father, Rabbi Eliyahu Mordechai Maza, the R’AM.  The R’AM was the patriarch of the family and lived on Henry Street in the lower East Side of Manhattan.  Rabbi Eliyahu Mordechai Maza said a Shiur at MTJ which was Rabbi Moshe Feinstein’s Yeshiva.  If fact Reb Moshe went to all of the Maza weddings.  Elliot Maza is name after the R’AM who was his grandfather.   I first met Sassha’s brother  at their wedding when he was a scrawny kid and he has turned into a Talmud Chachom.

Shabbos Morning

I wanted to grab every minute of the Simcha with the family and was also  determined to attend every Shiur  at Jonah’s Bar Mitzvah.  Made it to Shul at 8:15 AM and I am never early to Shul.  Rabbi Shlomo Einhorn gave a very nice Shiur on the Rambam.  Again sat next to David Gross.  The Ba’al Shachris performed  a Chassidic concert.   Before the first Aliyah. The Rov said a beautiful Vort from the Bnei Yisoschor, a Chassidic Master from the 1800’s who was a student to the Chozeh.

The Rov had a pre-publication review  copy of a new English translation of the Bnei Yisoschor.  The Vort centered on the two Cherubim  that sat atop of the Ark of the Covenant.  I remember the explanation of the translator, not the actual Bnei Yisoschor.  Just as the Cherubs are inanimate objects and God put into them animation, so to when we are down, we feel depressed, we feels that we cannot go on, we have to understand the lesson of the Cherubim.  Just as God put animation in inanimate objects, much more so us who are alive, who have a spark of God, can we bring back our life from the depths of despair.

Jonah read the Torah portion.  He was perfect.  It was a pleasure listening to him.  Jonah was called up for his Aliyah, bags of candy were thrown, and it was pure joy.   Avi Maza davened Mussaf and again another concert.  Davening was over.   

The Kiddush was held in  Yavneh’s courtyard.  I zeroed in on the sushi station.  It rivaled  Shoshana Parker-Fridman’s wedding  sushi station.     I was walking around and happened  on Jacob Greenbaum, one of Laura’s triplets.  He is a sweet soul.  He had taken a plate of sushi, triple layered.  I took one layer from him and had my second portion of sushi.  I thanked Jacob for the food and told him that I love sushi.  He disappears and comes back 5 minutes later with another plate of sushi for me.  I told his mother that I appreciate her kids and Jacob.  Whenever I visit Laura and family in Boca Raton on Shabbos with my grandkids, it was always Jacob who took Tiferat, gave  her food, sat her down, and was concerned.  All of her kids are great to my grandkids.

I also was able to work the tent, talking with as many people as possible.  I reunited with Sasha’s parents.  The last time I saw them was 1999 or 2000 when I was visiting my father with Karen.  We needed a meal for Shabbos and I told Karen , we will show up in Shul and get invited.  Sassha’s parents invited us over for the meal.

Went into the school lunchroom for the meal.  The room was beautifully decorated.   Johan made a Siyum on Mishnayos Mo’ad.  Jonah Parker also said a complicated Torah Pshetal that would have made his great-grandfather, the R’AM proud.  

Rabbi Dovid Hirsh spoke, calling Michael and Sasha, individuals who are the best of YU.  They embody what YU represents.   It was tremendous honor to Sassha and Michael, the Parkers, the Maza family, and the Teichmans.  I was inspired.  Michael then got up and spoke.  He spoke emotionally and  let us  in and be emotionally attached to the Simcha.   He  spoke about when he first met  Rabbi Dovid Hirsch as a 19 year old student at YU.  Michael wanted to get into Rabbi Dovid Hirsch’s class, however, there were already 60 students registered for the Shiur.  The registrar told him that he can call Rabbi Dovid Hirsch and if Rabbi Hirsch agrees to accept Michael,  then he can attend the Shiur.  Rabbi Hirsch arranged a Bechinah .  The Bechinah was on a Gemorah in Kiddsuhin, which Michael learned as a sophomore in high school.  Rabbi Hirsch met with Michael and told him to read a Mishna.  Michael read the Mishna and Rabbi Hirsch told him to close the Gemorah.  Rabbi Hirsch looked  at Michael and asked, “Will you give me 100%”.  Michael, who is 19 year oil and shaking, says.  Yes, Rebbe, I will give you 100%.  As Michael is relating this, he is holding back tears.  The emotional impact was felt by the entire room.  Time stopped as Michael gathered himself and his thoughts.  He was telling his wife and his children, yes, I have given you  100% of myself.  Michael graciously shared his Neshamah with me and everyone in the room.

Took a walk with Elliot and at 4:30 PM attend Rabbi Dovid Hirsch’s Shiur.  Beautiful Shire.    Had the Shalsoh Suedos meal back at Sassha and Michael’s house, davened Maariv, and heard Havdalah.  Of course I too left over  food  for Sunday.

After Shabbos, Tziporah came over, we went for a drive, Martin called me to offer an update on his mother-in-law.  We drove past Mann’s Chinese theater, went back to where I was staying and  talked a bit.  She had some of the food I had from the Bar Mitzvah.

Sunday Morning, March 5th

Took the 7:15 AM flight back to Chicago.  What a weekend.

My Bracha to Sassha and Michael is that in 20 years they are sitting in Jonah’s dining room on Purim and Jonah’s students are sitting around the table at a Purim Seudah.

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