50 years ago my Dad entered into the covenant of the Jewish people. 50 years ago he stood at Sinai. But he was there long before that. He was at Sinai with all of us when we received Torah.
This is the blessing I wrote for him to be given to him at Temple Sinai in Denver, as he celebrates his 50th anniversary from when he chose to become a Jew. Thank you Rabbi Rheins and Chazzan Brian Zyve for sharing this blessing with him and being my hands.
On the 50th Anniversary of My Dad, Chuck Williams, Avraham ben Avraham v’Sarah, Choosing to enter into the Covenant of the Jewish People
June 1, 2014
Normally at this point Dad, I would look deep into your eyes and just talk to you. But I’m not able to be there with you tonight, so Rabbi Rheins, Cantor Zive, please look deep into my Dad’s eyes and share this with him.
51 years ago, you and Mom were married by a Justice of the Peace in Georgia. There was no Chuppah, as you were not Jewish. Your parents were not with you, as you eloped. But it was true love and you both knew you wanted to spend the rest of your lives together.
During that first year, you made a decision, fully encouraged by and supported by your Mom, who was Catholic, a religion you never fully embraced. You started learning with a Rabbi in Miami and you completed the conversion process. And on your one year wedding anniversary, you and Mom were married under the chuppah by a Rabbi. Mom was very pregnant with Shelly but you both wanted your children to enter into this world with two Jewish parents.
Dad, this is the Shabbat before Shavuot, when we all stood at Sinai together receiving Torah. We are taught that every soul was present, even those who were yet to be, stood there listening to the words as they came forth from Sinai. You were there; you stood next to me and held my hand.
On Shavuot we read from the Book of Ruth for many reasons, but the greatest, because she was a woman who never left her Mother in Law, Naomi, after the greatest tragedy befell her. Her husband was taken for her and Naomi told her that she should return to her people as Ruth was not an Israelite. But Ruth said, No. “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and Your God my God.”
Ruth was the first to choose to be a Jew; to embrace Torah and the Jewish people, just like you did 50 years ago.
Dad, you held Torah in your arms, recited the Shema and announced to the congregation then and your congregation now that you are a Jew. That this is your people. Then, you held Shelly and me in your arms and along with Mom promised to raise us as Jews, giving us Torah, bringing us to Chuppah and ensuring that we would do acts of loving kindness. And you held your grandchildren, Dahvi, Mason, Yoni and Anna, and made that promise to guide me and Matt, Shelly and Mark, so that we too may give our children the same gift you gave to us.
It is from your gentle arms and your strong heart and soul that you have blessed Shelly and me, and especially Mom, with a loving Jewish home and a promise that we always know we are never alone. You entered into the covenant of the Jewish people and not only accepted for yourself the gift of Torah, but you gave that gift of Torah for generations to come.
You stood at Sinai with us, I know, you held my hand there. And tonight, you stand with the congregation where you raised Shelly and me and together, we all bless you. As Rabbi Rheins and Chazzan Zive place their hands on your head and bless you with words of Torah, please feel my hands, Shelly’s hands, Mom’s hands, the hands of your grandchildren, and the hands of generations past and future as you are blessed because you Dad, blessed us when you said, “Where you go, I will go. Where you stay, I will stay. Your people will be my people and your God my God,” you blessed us with the greatest blessing of all, Torah.
With all of our hearts and souls, we love you and are grateful to you and we celebrate with you.
Mazal tov Dad! With love and blessings – Heidi