Rosh Hashanah: The First Without My Father

by Jane Ruth Falon (Elkins Park, PA)

I hadn’t been with my parents for decades
at their synagogue (in a church,
with Love Never Faileth on the wall above the bimah,
and their newish Jewish Japanese rabbi),
but I always knew we’d speak
to wish each other a Happy New Year
and, like they’ve done at every event around the calendar,
they’d wish me good health, and whatever my heart desired
(which, I have to tell you, hasn’t happened).

But this year, with my father gone,
I felt him with me:
Singing, jumping up and down octaves to stay on key,
drifting off, and back on, during the sermon,
and, most of all, holding my hand
when I stood for the Mourner’s Kaddish.

Janet Ruth Falon, the author of The Jewish Journaling Book (Jewish Lights, 2004), teaches a variety of writing classes — including journaling and creative expression — at many places, including the University of Pennsylvania. She leads a non-fiction writing group and works with individual students, and is continuing to write Jewish-themed readings for what she hopes will become a book, In the Spirit of the Holidays.

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