Sunday, September 17, 2006

L'shanah tovah

A Saturday Rant 9-16-06: L'shanah tovah

Do you have a Jewish friend? This week and during the next three feel free to tell them: L'shanah tovah (sha-NAH toe-VAH) meaning "for a good year". The Jewish New Year (Rosh Hashanah (rush ah sha nah) is this week, followed by Yom Kippur.

One of my best memories was when I was in my first few weeks at the University of Virginia and just getting used to people with a southern accent. There was Charles, but he went by Chas, a very non-Jewish guy on our hall from Alabama and I guess he did some research because he came up to a group of us and said "Hey, SHANE toe-vah, y'all." It touched our heart... a guy from the deep South who had probably never met a Jew until two weeks before made an attempt to bridge a cultural gap. We made him an honorary Jew right there on the spot! (Y'all not gonna do that circumcision thing, that's for damn sure!")

This is the time of year when Jews ask a pardon to all those they have maligned... and for me that's about most of the world and probably everyone here! But seriously, do forgive me of whatever grief I've caused. We are not allowed to ask God for a pardon until/unless we have asked our fellow men and women. I guess it's to teach us a bit of humility.

Rosh Hashanah is a happy occasion... full of good wishes, fellowship, and hope for a better time... followed a week later by the very serious "Days of Awe" where we repent and ask to be inscribed in the "book of life" for the next year... "before the gates begin to close."

This time of year I always remember him. Chas had became a good friend of mine.. the first non-Jewish "real" friend I'd ever made. We would double-date... and even swap dates! I taught him how the stock market worked. He taught me how to drink bourbon (I got the better of that deal!). We laughed at the Smothers Brothers show. We cried when RFK was killed. On graduation day in June of 1969, in cap and gown and clutching well-earned diplomas, we hugged each other, shook hands and vowed to stay in touch. We had our whole lives ahead of us. It was a good time... an exciting time.

I went off to teach school in West Virginia.

Chas, being a son of the south and of a military family, went to the service as an ROTC officer.

I got a card from him that September.

All it said was "SHANE toe-vah, y'all." I laughed and laughed and laughed. I think I still have that card somewhere.

I never heard from him again.

He was killed in Vietnam three months later.

To all of you, L'shanah tova... to a better year.

Al Canton
Adams-Blake Company, Inc.
http://www.adams-blake com

Copyright 2006 by A. Canton and Adams-Blake Company, Inc. This piece may be freely copied and published in any media with proper attribution to the author and including his company and URLs.