Lazarus Bach, alav hashalom, was a UAHC Board member for a number of years in the 1950s and 1960s. It was in that capacity, I imagine, that he came into possession of several years’ worth of CCAR Yearbooks. I remember pulling them down from the shelf in my grandparents’ den and flipping through them on Friday nights before Temple, while Grandpa Laz watched the Mets. And so it was that, as a pretty young kid, I first became aware of the workings of our Conference. I didn’t understand much of what I was reading, but I remember feeling like my grandfather was pretty important for being connected to those books. I also remember, very clearly, a sense of wonder at the Memorial Tributes and the “List of Deceased Members.”
All things pass, including grandfathers and CCAR Yearbooks. As the Conference deploys its resources differently in the present day, we no longer receive a bound volume with the proceedings of our convention and other business of the conference. I’m not complaining. I love that we have archived streams of many conference sessions, I frequently access materials on the CCAR website, I appreciate the way in which Ravblog has become a creative publishing space, and I enjoy the informality and immediacy of our Facebook group.
I do miss those memorial tributes, though. More to the point, I miss the idea of them, the notion that we are a Conference which doesn’t let its members fade from memory. In a conversation with Rabbi Hara Person at the CCAR Press display last week in Chicago, I mentioned that fact. In bringing it up, I momentarily forgot that, in that setting, Hara was the Rabbi and I was the congregant. Hara knows (as we all do) what to say when a congregant has an idea: “Great idea, Larry. How’d you like to take it on?” I decided to say what we all hope to hear when we kick that idea back in our eager congregant’s direction: “Sure, Hara, I’ll do it.”
And so, welcome to a new feature of RavBlog: Azkarot. With the “azkarot” tag, we intend to recreate via Ravblog part of what was lost with the transition away from a physical CCAR Yearbook: a repository of memorial tributes for our colleagues who have died. Our first post, which will go live next week, will be Rabbi Margie Meyer’s tribute to Janice Garfunkel (z”l), offered at last week’s WRN Dinner. Others will follow in due course.
Others will follow in due course, provided we have the material. And so, this is my plea: the azkarah you offered at a regional kallah, the hesped you shared at a beloved colleague’s funeral…please send them along to me. I’ll work with Hara to ready them for publication on Ravblog, and they’ll be posted as a semi-regular feature of the site. We no longer have a physical yearbook in which to publish memorial tributes, but we need not let go of the practice of remembering, as a Conference, when our members die.