Thursday, September 17, 2009

Thoughts for 5770 - Revisiting "Diary of A Crummy Day"

Hey today is my birthday!

So when does the summer really end? Is it Labor Day? Is it September 22? For me, summer really ends when things get "serious" and I guess being Jewish that would mean the arrival of Rosh Hashana..... (although in the rare years that it comes out before 9-17, we still get a last gasp of summer at the shore on my birthday) And there have been some years that Rosh Hashana came out in October… and in those years my summer continued into October… I even recall the infamous 1994 RH which started the night of Labor Day! My mother was in the hospital that weekend and I remember walking quite a few miles from Linden to Rahway Hospital in brand new shoes. I had blisters on my feet till Thanksgiving!

But the solemnity of Rosh Hashana is where everything gets serious again.. It launches 10 days of repentance, and it also marks the first time that I start wearing a tie and jacket to synagogue again. The Jewish New Year also starts off a few weeks of religious holidays that ends with my favorite holiday of Simchat Torah. (It also marks 3 wks of coworkers asking “There’s another Jewish Holiday?”) Simchat Torah always wraps up with my annual proclamation of “Oh well, no more holidays till Thanksgiving”. I actually stole that line from the Cantor at my old synagogue in Linden; he said it off the cuff to me one year and I have used it every year since!

When looking back at classic columns in NWOW, one that stands out in my mind appeared here on 8/24/06… the day The Highland Park Conservative Temple and Center was damaged in a fire. I kept a diary of my thoughts for that day and decided to post a column that night with a narrative of the events of that day… unlike other columns that I work on for a few days… That particular column was one that I wanted to post at the end of the day to effectively capture my emotions. I remember attempting to upload that column…”Diary of a Crummy Day”… (see the August 2006 archives) to blogspot that night and got increasingly frustrated because I couldn’t get on the internet, and I very impatiently continued to log on until after what seemed like an eternity when I finally got the signal... I recommend you check it out if you had never seen it before.

In retrospect, the Crummy Factor of the day has diminished. Unbeknownst to me that day, a little baby was born in a nearby hospital that day… and now 3 years later Trophy Wife and I have become friends with that kid’s parents… And how crummy a day could it be if a little baby arrived that day? And also unbeknownst to me on that very day, a new family moved to town just 6 houses away from where we live now. That family had a baby this summer… but not in the hospital.. but actually at their house! The night the baby was born there was a nasty thunderstorm and I watched the rain coming down hoping that the loud noises weren’t scaring the newest member of our community. Over the last year, Trophy Wife and I have also became friendly with that family… and again, how crummy a day could it be if this nice new family moved here??

And this weekend, the Crummy factor will diminish yet again with the arrival of 5770. For the first few months after that August 2006 fire, the Temple building was totally unusable. The sanctuary wing needed to be rebuilt and the rest of the building had to be cleaned out from smoke damage. The office staff moved their operation to an office building that was kindly donated by a Temple member. Services were split up between that office building, The Y and the High School. After about 10 months, one side of the Temple was usable again and we moved everything into what was once the gym, a gym that was reinvented for 2 years as a repainted temporary sanctuary and general all purpose room. It is also the same room where I met Trophy Wife on December 29, 2001.

Now 3 years later as we begin the New Year, we will finally have the Grand Re-opening of the Temple’s sanctuary that was destroyed by that fire. If you saw the 2006 column, the very night of the fire, officials of the Temple held a meeting at the local Y (which has since been torn down) and announced that the rebuilding process would start immediately and a fundraising campaign was launched. That money has now gone towards a nice new addition that has resulted in a redesigned building featuring an even bigger sanctuary so the overflow crowd can sit in pews and not on temporary chairs. There are many other new features but they are a mystery to me because I haven’t seen them yet. The new Sanctuary wing has been kept under lock and key from curiosity seekers like myself, and until the New Year begins, nobody will be allowed in there, except for the Temple Officers who have been posting pictures regularly on Facebook. And I gotta tell you… these pictures really look fantastic!

This Saturday Morning as I wake up and wipe the cobwebs from my eyes… I’ll run downstairs to get some caffeine and I plan to tie my tie a little quicker; I’ll already have the jacket picked out and I plan to scamper off to synagogue with a little spring in my step. (Hopefully I wont step on any cracks or potholes like I did on Rosh Hashana 1999 when I sprained my ankle on my way to Temple!) And I plan to set aside a little extra time on my arrival to oooo and aaaaah as I check out the brand new sanctuary… hopefully I won’t sound too much like Merv Griffin because belting out "Lovely Bunch of Coconuts" at Temple would be highly inappropriate! But after those first few minutes Saturday as I reintroduce myself to the new Temple, I will also take some time to further downgrade that Crummy factor from 3 yrs ago.

And this should be the theme for 5770 - downgrade the Crummy Factor. And single people and ventriloquists should also rethink their dating habits and downgrade the Dummy Factor. Life is tough right now.. the economy has tanked, 401k's and wallets are hurting and everybody is sniping. Congressmen heckle the President… Serena Williams yells at referees… and Kanye West kvetches because his friend didn’t win an award.

Believe me, as a mortgage broker I see firsthand that people are having problems! But before you sit at services reflecting on all the problems from last year… remember the old Monty Python song…: “Always Look on the Bright Side of Life”… Instead of spending time worrying about things, take the bull by the horns like our Temple crew did that August 24th and look to the future and see what you need to do to improve your situation. Nothing would be better if over the next several months we are all able to downgrade our Crummy Factors. And as tough as it might look right now, we don’t have the foresight to look into the future… so even though life might be crummy now, things have a way of working out… just like August 24, 2006.


Pumpy is 1-0 after hitting it with the Jets last wk. This week we go to Georgia, the home state of Former President Jimmy Carter who may have started a firestorm this week by saying Obama critics are prejudiced against blacks. The Falcons are 6 point faves over the Panthers. Sayeth The Pump:

“First I want to correct the column’s last paragraph that we don’t have foresight to see the future… Second.. I too had a daughter this summer that you didn’t mention. As for the pick,. Let’s take the Panthers because my son "Little Pumpstradamus" likes The Pink Panther.

UNBIASED GIANTS FAN PICKS OF THE WEEK; Last week we were 0-3. Home teams are in caps.

Giants 3 point doggies over DALLAS - Looking forward to this one after 2 days of Rosh Hashana.

Saints pick 'em over PHILLY - The Cheese Steaks have some serious QB problems.

Rams 9 1/2 point doggies over WASHINGTON - The Skins didn't look that impressive last week even though the Rams looked that bad. Double digit spreads are a little dangerous this early in the season.

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