Friends and Family,
While life here in Houston post-Hurricane Harvey is not yet what it was before the storm, and may never be, I find myself being inspired and encouraged by what I affectionately refer to as “Precious Moments”. “Precious Moments” are events or circumstances in our daily life when I can not help but see and realize G-d’s presence and influence in my life. While technically not “holy”, these are the times when Love is unmistakenly recognizable. There have been many such “Precious Moments” since I began serving as President of CBS. Celebrating the holiday of Passover this year has produced such a moment:
My wife, Lori, and I have enjoyed hosting Passover Seders in our Houston home for many years. Until the past few years, my wife’s parents, Shep and Phyllis Rosen, together with Lori’s brother, Eric Rosen, have come to stay with us in Houston and join our extended family (my mom, sister and brother-in-law) at the Passover Seder.
My father-in-law is 93 years of age and has experienced a tremendous decline in his health (blindness, inoperable bad back issues, Parkinson’s, severe memory loss, and more) that prevents him from traveling to be with us in Houston during Passover. Hence, Lori and I, together with our kids, Rachel and Alan (with his fiancé, Jessica Meeks), are presently (or at least at the time this Blog is being written) celebrating Passover at her parents’ home in Dayton, Ohio.
Lori prepares the Festive Meal (she is an amazing and talented cook, as anyone who has joined us at CBS for the Dinner following the once-a-month Ruach Service will attest) and I lead the Seder. It is a fun experience that allows everyone to participate. When the Seder is concluded, I clean up. We may be celebrating Passover in my in-laws’ home in Dayton, but our roles do not change...
It has been our family custom and practice for the youngest child, Alan, to recite the Four Questions at the Passover seder. When the time arises for the Four Questions during the Seder, I always (and predictably) announce that the youngest child will now lead us. Alan, then, proceeds to sing the verses with confidence and enthusiasm. The family typically (and robustly) will join him, singing the refrains to the four verses... We are a musical family and greatly enjoy singing the refrains loudly together. This year would be different and incredibly special, a “Precious Moment”.
When I announced that the youngest child would lead the Four Questions, Alan commenced singing the first verse, “Mah Nishtana....”. Shep, who was the youngest child in his family when growing up, with a great big smile, and not even missing a beat, immediately joined Alan in singing the first verse. Shep totally surprised us! He continued to sing the verses with Alan, doing so without any hesitation and with obvious joy and love. [See Lori’s Facebook post for the video!]
Watching my father-in-law as he reached deep into his memories and recall all of the words of the Four Questions was nothing short of amazing. Shep has been more than just a father-in-law to me these past 30+ years. My own father of blessed memory passed away when I was 14 years of age. Shep has served as the father I never had. He has been a tremendous role model for me in every way imaginable; a true mentsch. He has blessed me and my family with his gifts of love, generous spirit, and so much more... To see Shep sing at the Passover Seder table with Alan, my youngest child (and Shep’s youngest grandchild), with such warmth and passion made me cry tears of joy. A very obvious and meaningful “Precious Moment”!
Passover is when we Jews come together in our homes with friends and family to re-tell the story of how the Hebrews were transformed into G-d’s Chosen People, leaving the bonds of slavery while in Egypt to enter the Promised Land. Experiencing Passover allows us to re-discover the value and importance of freedom, something we should never, ever, take for granted. It is also a time to re-discover and connect with each other.
You never know when a “Precious Moment” will occur. Savor and relish those moments! They make our lives complete and meaningful. They make us cry tears of joy and love. I am grateful for not only the freedom we enjoy as American Jews, but these wonderful times we can spend with family and friends. I am especially thankful for these “Precious Moments”.
I wish for you and your family a Very Happy Passover! I particularly wish for you many such “Precious Moments”!