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The first time I met him, he was a skinny, blond, energetic boy who loved to be read to by anyone he could corral. I was available, so we sat together, as he sat on one side of me and his younger brother sat on the other. We were looking for a Mr. Goldbug, and it took a few reading sessions to realize that he had studied the book on his own so he could beat me in finding him! But it was fun, and it was my first encounter with his bright and enthusiastic presence.
Over the years, we had other poignant moments together. There was the time when I arrived and my suitcase was larger than he was, but he valiantly grabbed ahold of it and carried it to my room three flights up without a grunt or groan. There was the morning when I came down from my room, and he asked me if I would like some chocolate cake (which was the Passover ritual in this home). You never have to ask me twice about chocolate cake, so when I said yes, he jumped up from his seat, brought a plastic tablecloth, a plate and fork, and invited me to cut myself a piece. (The Passover cake is to die for!) And he kept me company while I ate, and we chatted together. Mind you, he was probably only nine years old at the time.
A couple of years later, he had grown almost as tall as I was (which isn’t saying much) and when the family came outside to greet me on my arrival, he quietly edged up next to me to put his arm discreetly and gently around my waist for just a moment. He had grown too old in the Jewish tradition to give me a full-fledged hug.
He has grown into a fine young man, one who became devoted to Torah at a young age. He would sing the Jewish prayers with a full heart, and his passion was contagious. He plays games outside with his friends just as enthusiastically. He is bright and brave and although I only see him once or twice per year, I always look forward to our time together. And now he has crossed the bridge into manhood.
He has, and will continue, to make his family—and me—proud.Published in