The first instances I held Eli shot me to a new dimension. Indeed, with family and friends on the perimeter, my eyes on the prize, kissing his warm flesh, no one could convince me it wasn’t he and me against the world. I was in love. 

Dear Mom,

No, there’s nothing wrong. That’s not why I’m writing. Hal’s OK, things with Carrie are great, and NO, nothing spilled. I just wanted to tell you about the weekend. And don’t tell me that you (of all people) heard.

First of all, from the moment I first saw him Thursday, one thing was clear: the baby looks just like Max. A bit bigger at birth, but that same peanut face, the same coloring, and —good news for the Jews — the same non-Bogart nose.

It was all good, Mom. Treasure trove to my chest, I’d sit on their couch, look down at Eli and marvel. Poised, head to my shoulder, he’d sleep and I’d kiss his right temple while around him his brother played. The older one: counts numbers now, in English and Spanish…recites the alphabet, in English and Hebrew. (Not that he wouldn’t prefer kicking soccer balls or blowing bubbles or dancing. Oh, and no longer does “Hava Nagila” end the days. It’s “Love Train” now. We circled the kitchen the other night, seven of us—-Max leading Meredith and Michael, three grandparents, and the baby’s nurse Brenda).

But let me tell you about Eli.

What’s that, Ma? I can’t understand you. Please put your teeth in!

Yeah, Mom, I know that MY father didn’t have much use for kids until they were old enough to play catch. You don’t have to remind me each grandchild. Yes, mother…I know he wasn’t right about everything. Will you let it go already!

May I please tell you about the bris?

It was elegant. I loved having it in the shul. The backdrop of the sanctuary perfected the tone.

Remember how two years ago an 8-day Max leaned toward Stuart and it just made sense for Stuey to hold him? Well as early as Thursday the Millers pulled me aside insisting that this turn was mine!

So I held him, Mom. On the bima. Tightly. As my father’s father held my Dad, and my father held me, and I, years ago, held a fledgling Michael….

L’dor va dor.

I clutched him, Mom…one hand under each knee…as the chazzan chanted and chipped and through Hebrew and English connected links of our family, finally drying tears on a beautiful Chaim Menachim Mendel Bogart, ben Moshe and Miriam….

Before handing him to Grandpa Stu
Then to Aunt Stacy
Then to Aunt Lindsay.

L’dor Va Dor.

I sat there, Mom: face glazed with emotion, heart pounding in gratitude for my healthy progeny. I held him, but I thought too, of you…

So here’s to Chaim, Mommy. In your name, in your memory…

May he be blessed with health, happiness, your sense of humor and your breadth of humility.

To Chaim. To Chaim. To life!

Love, Bruce


  1. Carrie says:

    Beautiful! Poignant! Heartfelt! A treasure among your blogs!

  2. Helunia says:

    Beautiful! Poignant! Heartfelt! A treasure among your blogs!

    Now, do you think you can take five minutes of your very precious time to write the letter that I asked you to write for me three days ago? Please. Then when you are finished, please bring the letter over so we can discuss it. And one more thing. Please stop at Jack’s and get a quarter pound of sliced LEAN brisket. Remember to ask for LEAN brisket. And a pint of cabbage soup. Not a quart. A pint. And make sure the receipt is itemized. I do not want a handwritten receipt. I want an itemized receipt printed by the cash register. And another thing, …

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