Houston — Just released from the hospital and too weak to attend High Holy Days services at her synagogue four years ago, Pearl Altman listened on the telephone. The congregation of Mrs. Altman, a retired teacher and investment banker, had made that arrangement for homebound members like her.
But the audio-only broadcast could not duplicate the in-shul experience, she says. Too much dead time, extended minutes of silence or of prayerbook pages rustling.
There must be a better way, said Mrs. Altman and her husband Sig.
This year they are providing the way.
First came the Shema. Douglas Rubin would recite it in the morning. Then, the Shemona Esrei, the heart of the Jewish prayer service that Rubin said before going to work.
Finally, he started to put on tallit and tefillin.Slowly, over a three-year period, Rubin, a 47-year-old investment banker and self-described "modern, liberal Jew" from Westchester, made Shacharit (the entire morning prayer service) part of his daily regimen.
After a 30-year hiatus.
Rubin, like many Jews of his generation, left Judaism after his bar mitzvah.
The news was devastating. Sandi Frank and her husband, Kenneth, had just been told that a rare form of cancer was spreading through the body of their 9-month-old son, Max.
Beside themselves, they reached out to family and friends for support. One of those friends turned to Lori Hardoon, director of the Partners in Dignity Program, who immediately drove from her office in Syosset to Schneider Children's Hospital in New Hyde Park, where the Franks were caring for their son.
Other than the occasional murder, few newspaper stories, if any, originate from the desolation of East Tremont Avenue; certainly no stories in Jewish newspapers, now that all the Jews have long ago scattered from these Bronx streets. Thereís nothing left on East Tremont, is there? But let it be written, in the words of the biblical Jacob: ìSurely, God is in this place ó and I, I did not know.
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