The best five minutes of my day are spent weeknights from 6-6:30 at Park Synagogue East. There in the back of the sanctuary, as the sun sets on Cleveland, my brother and I unwind from the events of the day.
We convene to observe minyan for our mother, but truth be known, we don’t talk about her much. Our comments rather, concern the problems of the world and the absurdities of life and those around us. We share thoughts that are often frivolous with feelings that can be compelling. And in the short period necessary to run through Mincha and Maariv services we each, in our own way….relax.
Picture Hawkeye and BJ after an hour of surgery on M*A*S*H.
Or Alan Shore and Denny Crane the last five minutes of “Boston Legal.”

A few weeks ago there was well-dressed middle-aged man standing to pray. He was wearing a silk shirt, pleated pants, and he was thin.
“Do you think he’s gay?” my brother whispered.
“Probably not,” I said, pointing out “He’s a Republican.”
My brother then reminded me: “Yeah, but they’re the one’s that get in trouble for it.”
Last week there were sisters in shul that we’d each known from our days in Sabbath School….in the sixties.
The older one, Cheryl, had gone through Sunday School, Hebrew School AND Hebrew High School with me. Those were the days when regardless of the zest in which I underachieved in public school, I was an avid student at Park.
And so it was that some insecurities never quite disappear.
As my brother and I whispered through the service I kept wondering if Cheryl was noticing, and whether she thought I was misbehaving.
(I’m teasing 60 and I still get nervous when I think the teacher is watching!)
But I’m not alone. Last night my brother broke stride as we walked into the Temple.
“Wait. I don’t want to have to talk to that guy.”
I waited.
“He’s a nice guy, but how much can I have to say to him?”
The man passed and my brother and I entered, finding our seats at the back of the chapel.
For the next half hour we reveled in the immediate issues on our plates: His kids, mine, the funeral bill, the Thief, Mother’s Day, and of course, Aunt Helen. This is my weekend to take her shopping so my brother is smiling.
At 6:29 PM we stood for the Mourner’s Kaddish, and began to leave.
Tomorrow we have Shabbos dinner at his place, and will probably be back at Park on Sunday. With the weekend over he won’t be smiling.
He’ll be “on the clock.”

We emerged from Park Synagogue and walked toward our cars.
Picture Churchill and Roosevelt.
“Have a good one,” he said.
“Thank you very much,” I responded.
No, we hadn’t speak much about our mother, but we had shared each other.
And peace.
Somehow I think she knows.

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