The rabbi held the congregation in his palm and they loved it. Meshing liturgy with (as Grandma Bogart would have called them) “hochmes”, he was making points, grabbing some laughs and for the moment … losing me.

‘Just wasn’t feeling it.

I love my synagogue. Growing up Bogart it was, and today it remains, the only game in town.

Why shouldn’t it be? Coming of age in the fifties, with a world within walking distance, did not the whole street attend?

Gelfand, Davidson, Shafran, Shafran, Polster, Gross, Markowitz (2), Duchon….as west down Bayard as the eye could see! (Ed. Note 1: Even on the other side of Miramar there were the Davis’s, Roger and DD (Mark) — until they moved down to Florida).

And what of my grade school friends? But for Stuart (Cleveland Hebrew Schools, Mar Orlon) and Bobby (Taylor Road — they were Orthodox, after all), did their parents not all dreidle down East Antisdale across Taylor Road and down Euclid Heights Boulevard?

Agin, Cohn,Gottesman, Libhaber, Walter, Wieder …

Ultimately this would add excitement to our year of Bar Mitzvahs. Services at other shuls were like field trips, the great moral issue of my father’s world being whether I belonged at my friend’s service or at Sabbath School. Revere Park, he did, always, often calling services at other temples “non-conference games”.

(Ed. Note 2: It was the year pre-divorce – fall afternoons spent with Dad on the bed. Prone we would lay, side by side. Band music blared from the radio as Al Bogart –-belly down, perched on his elbows … cigarette in one hand, pen in the other — methodically checking off intermittent results as announced between marches. To me all songs sounded like Souza, but learn I would “The Notre
Dame Victory March” and “On Wisconsin” and even “The Victors”.).

(Ed. Note 3: Long afternoons they were — sometimes arduous for ME: 1PM game on TV —three hours of black and white— and THEN radio: the bands … the final scores … and then: just when I think I can go to the bathroom … WHAT NOW? The west coast games!).

I missed those days this Kol Nidre, as I sat (third new mahzor) in the bowels of the chapel. Overcome I was, by a sense of time, and change, and a world gone by:

Hal and I bored at children services – parents fourth row, under Park’s big dome…

And my grandparents. …My maternal great-grandparents Sam and Becky Sharp (for whom Michael is named)…always in the same seats, mid-way up on the aisle…

And Uncle Bob and Aunt Etty and Bonnie, Gary, Debbie Marla. And Cousins Ruth and Leon…and Rita and Mel….

Images of my three prizes growing up at Park —

Michael’s Bar Mitzvah …Jamie waiving a lulav on Succos …Little Rooney, maybe five — Neilah is concluding and she’s  parading down the Main Sanctuary aisle (with the Gelfands, Davidsons and Shafrans of her world)…

Intellectually I knew, the world … my world had changed. Theirs too had changed.


In my gut though I wanted so much to be young again, with them again — as one again —

When times were black and white, and often pure….

(and Yes, when the rabbis didn’t joke).

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