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Rabbi’s Blog: A “Trepp” Down Memory Lane

12/13/2023 04:24:16 PM


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Dear OZ family,


I have always enjoyed making birthday calls. Over the course of a year, I make over 5,000 such calls and I get to see some interesting trends in months, and dates. I’ll share some of that another time, but I noticed that Dec. 13thhas, for my monthly ledger, far more birthdays than any other day this month. When I came to OZ in 1988, Mrs. Bertha Trepp, who was the bookkeeper at the time, showed me an old book from 1876 with the birthdays of OZ members written in pencil on 366 different pages.(Does anyone remember Ethel Stavin? Her birthday was Feb. 29th). It’s a good day to remember Mrs. Trepp, because today is her birthday. I spoke with her earlier and she is very sharp and sends regards to everyone. I won’t say how old she is, but I will say that the Gemara says that when you reach her age, you will keep on going on and on.


Today is also Paul Kirschner’s birthday. You’d have to be coming to OZ for quite some time to remember him. Paul had his Bar Mitzva celebration at OZ in 1951, and his parents lived at 96th and West End Ave. Paul was severely disabled but had a fabulously sunny disposition. Perhaps you remember him walking up to everyone at Tashlich, in Riverside Park, shaking hands, and asking everyone if they know him, and if the answer was yes, he’d then ask if they like him. Everyone liked Paul, and he loved life.


I have tried for years during Aseret Y’mei Teshuva to go the entire 10 days without missing a single addition to the Amidah, or to have to return for missing Hamelech Hakadosh. The farthest I have ever gotten was Erev Yom Kippur about 20 years ago. It was the early afternoon Mincha, and I was carefully keeping my place in the siddur so as to finish the 9th day’s additions. If I could only get through to Yom Kippur, I felt that I would make it this time. I had just started Modim, and I heard Paul Kirschner storming down the aisle, asking people if they know him and like him. This disturbed my concentration, but I did manage to successfully add U’chtov L‘chaim Tovim. I was finishing Shalom Rav, just as Paul was walking to me and started calling out my name, and so distracted, did I become, so intent on finishing my Amidah, so that I could quiet Paul down a little, that I zoomed right through Shalom Rav…….. and I skipped B’sefer Chaim Tovim. I didn’t even realize it until after I took my steps back.


Once again, like a good Dodger’s fan before 1955, I had to wait until next year. Needless to say, I was very upset, but how could I stay angry with Paul? At times like these let’s try not to stay angry with anyone in our inner circle. Let’s be forgiving. Let’s be understanding. Today was a very difficult day for Israel. In a country where every soldier is a child of every citizen, the country is mourning many times over. Due to the extraordinary efforts Israel takes in minimizing harm to civilians, she puts her own soldiers in much greater risk, as we saw today, when 10 of her finest soldiers were killed in an explosion of a booby-trapped building. May this difficult time end soon.


Stay well and healthy.

Rabbi Allen Schwartz



Rabbi Allen Schwartz

Congregation Ohab Zedek

118 West 95th Street | New York, NY  10025-6604

Phone 212.749-5150, ext 200 | Fax 212.663-3635





Mon, March 4 2024 24 Adar I 5784