Monday, June 8, 2009

What it Was Like Having Rabbi Michael Kramer and Marcia Stay By Me

That's how we say it, Stay by me. That's the Jewish way.

Anyway, Michael is a first cousin of my mother's, making me a first cousin of his, once removed, and my kids first cousins twice removed. But we're repairing that. We don't feel removed anymore.

Reb Michael is the son of the late Tirtza and Simon Kramer. Reb Simon was President and Rosh Yeshiva of the Skokie Yeshiva from 1965-1970, and has a bio that's three pages long, single spaced. I can about post that another day.

Michael is by far the most liberal, best educated rabbi in the family, and there are quite a few. Retired and writing (meticulously, with pen and paper) it's obvious he's enjoying his Judaism and Torah. He learns them out, as we say, all those kula*'s (ways of looking at law less as punishing, more as life-sustaining). His way doesn't take away, not at all, from the observance of the mitzvot ** rather enhances them.

And yet I couldn't take off a tichel,*** let's talk, in his presence, and preferred the old virtual hug to what would have been nice, a real one. I've become a lot more distant, physically, from men in the family, than I was as a youth, when the rules of touch sometimes seemed overly strict. That attitude started when I first heard, from my daughter's gen, YOU CAN'T EVEN HUG YOUR UNCLE in this religion.

Another time. Anyway, Michael writes a book for each of his grandchildren for their Bar-Bat Mitzahs, takes a couple of years in the process utilizing the following several sources to explain the kid's parsha, (portion of Torah, rhymes with Marcia), including Hertz, Hirsh, Soncino, Anchor, Kaplan, and the Judaica Press. He picks and chooses to make it sweet.

Marcia, his Southern belle, seems captivated as he tells his stories, and yet we know she's heard them all many times over. She never sits down, not unless she's listening him play Blue Moon or Fly Me to the Moon on the piano. He is a little obsessed with songs about the moon, but maybe this is simply all he had to listen to as a kid. He just missed those Beatles, you know.

Marcia never stopped helping me, for you know with Jews food service never ends, and at one point started doing dishes, which made me want to crack one over her head, but this is me getting emotional about how one treats guests, so I stopped, let her do a few glasses, then moved her away from the sink.

The couple literally walked in the door regaling me of stories of my grandchildren, as the surrogate first degree in their new place in the sun, Atlanta. My son and his wife recently moved there. My grandchildren get a serious dose of the other side, their mother's side, but not very much of our side. Not much me or FD. So I'm very grateful for Michael and Marsha, not that I don't love the machs.****

We had family over on Saturday nigh to greet M and M, a real challenge, considering Shabbas is over after nine. But 4 gens showed up.

Okay, that's enough for now. You need some pictures, of course. Coming soon.

Flying Richer

* kula rhymes with hoola, doesn't mean loop hole, exactly, but amounts to as much
**mitzvot **(pronounced mitts-vote, means commandments)
*** tichel rhymes with kichel (sorry), means scarf, a head-covering
****machs, short for machetunim, the parents of your kids' spouse, rhymes with rocks.


  1. Please pass along my regards to the Kramers; Rabbi Kramer was my predecessor, several times removed, in Allentown!

  2. YES! It's in the family history, the stint in PA. We're practically mishpacha!


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