This week’s Torah portion is Vayigash, my bar mitzvah portion. Fifty-nine years ago. I remember that it snowed Friday, but Saturday was clear. I did not chant Torah (I don’t know whether my teacher thought Torah chanting was beyond my grasp or whether Torah chanting by bar mitzvah boys was not done), but I led Shacharit in an Orthodox shul. Plainfield had two Orthodox shuls back then, and they were less than 200 yards apart. As the old joke goes, members of the one shul would not set foot in the other shul.
My reception was all about my parents. My parents’ friends and relatives were invited, but I got to choose three friends. I remember that Claire Gerstein had back problems the next day after she endlessly danced the Twist.
I still have the cards that people gave to me; a big gift was $25. It was family reunion.
And that leads me to the parashah, when Joseph reveals himself to his brothers and they have a real, family reunion. I am typing this on Christmas Day, when most of us are deprived of a real, family reunion. When I walked the dog yesterday at nine o’clock (p.m.), I noticed houses that had more than the usual number of cars. I am more cautious than that, and our Thanksgiving, my birthday, and Gayle’s birthday are all on Zoom. I can not blame families that want to get together with their children, but on the other hand, I say, “What’s the matter with them?”
As Joseph put his brothers in the wringer before he couldn’t take it anymore and he revealed himself to them, this pandemic is putting all of us in the wringer. I can’t wait until all of us have an actual, family reunion.