Favorite Room of the House
My congregation, established in 1956, is only a few months older than I am. My paternal grandparents were among the founding families, and my parents joined immediately upon moving back to Milwaukee shortly before my birth. I joined to raise my children here.
Much has changed since the days of my youth. Gone is the formal Friday evening service led by the black-robed rabbi and hidden quartet. Gone is the original ark, whose fabric curtain was donated by my grandparents. Gone, too, are most of the founding generation, but the ongoing sense of decorum and intellectual challenge lingers even now, almost 51 years later.
My favorite room has always been the social hall—a large sort of nondescript room with a wall of windows facing west and, until the recent renovation, a stage covered with a gold velvet curtain. In that room I remember my friends and family gathering for my bat mitzvah.
We held each of the brit milah simchas for our four boys there, converted it to an indoor “arena” for a 4-year-old’s birthday party, and then filled the room with joy at the b’nai mitzvah party for our twins.
The back wall of the sanctuary opened, and hundreds of our friends and community filled every available space for my son Baki’s funeral, just as they had done at my mother’s funeral 13 years before.
My synagogue is my second home.