Seth and I got up early this morning to go open water swimming at the lake in preparation for our triathlon next week in Boulder. While we were driving I was reflecting on Father’s Day. We got married 25 years ago on Father’s Day. We celebrated our 25th anniversary a few days ago. Seth is a great “Abba” to our 5 children. I am a blessed woman, and they are blessed kids.
Forty nine years ago I had my first and only Father’s day with my father of blessed memory, Harvey Michael Werstein (Tzvi Moshe ben Eliyahu Leibal). I was 3 months old and he was 28, and newly diagnosed with stomach cancer. He died the second night of Rosh Hashanah that fall. Although my physical relationship with my birth father was incredibly limited, when I was about 24 years old I learned via classical Torah Judaism (the stuff that was studied and practiced for thousands of years) that my father and I could be infinitnely connected spiritually and practically. Simply put, what I do there, affects him up there.
And although I lost my father when I was just a baby, I am so grateful for the father figures that God put in my life over the years.
My mother, widowed with 2 small children at the age of 24 got remarried when I was 4. She was married for 40 years to my step-father Ben Wolf of blessed memory (Binyamin ben Yitzchak).
My Uncle Gene Greenberg, may he live and be well until 120, was a father figure as well. I moved to Los Angeles and lived with him and my Aunt Miriam (my father’s sister, may she live and be well until 120) when for a few years when I was finishing college and began working. Then I met and married Seth, which gifted me with another father figure, my father-in-love (not just law!) Stephen Parkoff, may he live and be well until 120. I remember the first time he met me, when Seth brought me back to NJ for the High Holidays. He grabbed me and gave me a big hug. He has always treated me like a daughter and I am grateful for that.
Shortly after Seth and I married we had to move to a small town in west Texas where there were basically no Jews. So we trekked to San Antonio one weekend to sight see and drop in at a shul on Shabbat. We (thank G-d) walked into Congregation Rodef Shalom and met Rabbi Aryeh Scheinberg (may he live and be well until 120). He and his wife Judy treated us like their kids, and we spent many Shabboses and Sundays with them that year. Rabbi Scheinbergs love for every Jew and his love for Torah, and Judy’s warmth (and suggestion that we go to Israel when Seth got layed off from the Air Force) led us to the desire to live a Torah observant life. So for any of you who have come closer to Torah because of my classes, talks, or friendship….Rabbi and Judy Scheinberg get that merit.
My step-father, Ben Wolf passed away five years ago. I was blessed to have been able to be with him (and my sister Judy and my mother) when he took his last breath, and to make sure that he had a proper Jewish burial (it REALLY matters!…more on that another time).
When my mother was not even looking for it, a wonderful man showed up in her life. A Jewish retired police officer! About a year later they got married. So another father figure showed up, Larry Norvin, who my kids affectionately call “GrandpaLa” (short for Grandpa Larry). We were blessed to have Grandma and GrandpaLa at our seder table this year.
So I have certainly been blessed with many father figures in my life, from my birth father t GrandpaLa, I know that no matter what, I will always have Avinu Shebashamayim (our Father In Heaven), and He loves me and you more than we can ever humanly imagine.
Happy Father’s Day!