Monday, July 16, 2007


Yesterday I sat in my window seat on the Silver Aerial Bus, gazing out at the landscape as it slowly slipped by. Cumulus clouds abounded, one looking remarkably like an erect Membrum Virile - complete with scrotal sack - thrusting towards the upper troposphere. As we continued southward, the occasional puffs of white cumulus were replaced by glowering thunderheads, their anvil tops sheared off flat by invisible temperature gradients. Our plane jinked and dodged around them, searching for patches of smooth air.

I was going home after a remarkable five days as a delegate to the biennial convention of the International FJMC.

So many stories. So many faces - some new, some familiar from past meetings.

One of the other delegates was the youngest brother of Gravel-Voice Larry, he of blessèd memory. Seeing him evoked the same sort of feelings I had upon encountering Rob Smith’s brother in Savannah just two weeks prior, for it was strangely like seeing a revenant: The resemblance between the brothers was uncanny, extending even unto the gravelly voice. I showed him the memorial tribute to Larry our club had placed in the convention program, and the tears flowed as I told him how I sat in his brother’s old place every day at morning Minyan.

We listened to a concert that included world-class cantorial talent: Steven Stoehr, David Propis, Alberto Mizrahi, Aaron Bensoussan, George Mordecai, Rebecca Carmi, Alisa Pomerantz-Boro. As the weekend approached, our religious services received an extra dose of musicality and spiritual intensity from several of these most excellent chazzanim.

Saturday morning, I had the honor of reading Torah along with a cadre of seven of the finest ba’alei koreh in the organization. Nothing gets your adrenalin going like reading a 29-verse slab of Torah in front of 500 people...and being the leadoff batter to boot.

We consumed voluminous quantities of Adult Beverages in our late-evening soirées: Mint juleps (mixed by Yours Truly), an assortment of fine single-malt scotches, cask-strength bourbons, Irish whiskies, et alia. And plenty of kosher wine. None of that Manischewitz or Mogen David crap, either. Serious wines, the finest varietals from Israel, including a late-harvest Gewürtztraminer that could melt a heart of stone.

We listened at breakfast Sunday morning as Jerry Markbreit told of his adventures as the first Jewish referee in the NFL, working the Super Bowl not once but four times.

And then, all too soon, it was over. Time to pack the bags, check out, say our goodbyes, and head off in our many separate directions, heads filled with new learning and new programming ideas...all eagerly anticipating the next convention two years from now.

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