Rosh Hashanah
Second Day: Genesis 22
Maftir: Numbers 29: 1 - 6
Haftorah: Jeremiah 31: 1 - 19

How Do I Want To Be Remembered? ©

By Dr. Akiva G. Belk

This study of the Holy Days is dedicated in the loving memory of Mr. Paul Sakash, may he rest in peace.

Story of the Restoration of Leadville's Historical Jewish Cemetery and Temple
Several weeks ago our family visited Leadville, Colorado. This was particularly important to me because I received an E-Mail request from a Yid living there. His name is William Korn. Our visit was essentially unannounced. When we replied to his E-Mail I said we would visit Leadville this summer, G-d willing. So we said we were coming but not when. How often do we say we are going to do something and never do it? Sooooooo...

Leadville is the place where Judaism began in Colorado. I wanted to visit Leadville this summer. Hashem wanted us to visit this summer. When we arrived we drove through the town looking for a Jewish shul. We could not find the shul so we inquired in several places. Eventually we found the shul. It was converted into an apartment building. That was extremely distressing for me. Dear readers, that was from the side view. We walked towards the front of this small temple. There were pictures and a brief story about the restoration of the temple. It was impressive. Next we rounded the corner to find a scaffold and reconstruction in progress. I spoke with one of the men there. He told me Mr. Korn was there earlier and may return or be on his way to Denver. He gave us directions to Mr. Korn’s home. Immediately we drove to his home. We knocked on the door four times: my son knocked on the door twice; we waited; then I knocked on the door twice and we waited some more. Now I knew this is not how spiritual things work. We did not make this trip to Leadville in vain! As we turned around to walk down the stairs towards the street a blue truck pulled up across the street. The Yid we were looking for was in this truck. We greeted like old friends. He invited us into his home. Bill offered us a juice or water, we accepted. After a few minutes we were invited to go with him to a very special place, Colorado’s oldest Jewish cemetery. Mr. Korn and other Jews and non Jews restored this historical cemetery. It was a powerful experience!

Words cannot express the appreciation for the dedicated efforts of Bill Korn and those assisting him. Here is this Jew who moves to Leadville, Colorado years ago unaware that a Jewish cemetery and shul existed there. When he becomes aware he gets involved. He forms a foundation to obtain the cemetery and purchase the shul with the intention of restoring them. Isn’t this what Rosh Hashanah is about? Isn’t Rosh HaShanah about restoring our being to what G-d intended?

Now dear readers, each of us is on a different level. G-d knows where we are. Judaism IS NOT AN ALL OR NOTHING BELIEF! Rosh Hashanah is NOT all or nothing either. Hashem looks on the heart! Hashem does not look at us like we look at each other. The point is that Bill in his own way on his own level of Jewish observance has restored this historical Jewish cemetery and is in the process of restoring the shul. He is proud of who he is. He is proud of his accomplishments. This is Bill’s way of connecting with G-d. This is Bill’s mitzvah.

Now, on this second day of Rosh Hashanah we remember the willingness of our father Avraham to offer his son Yitzchok as a sacrifice. We remember our father Yitzchok who was willing to be offered as a sacrifice. We also remember our mother Sarah who died when she learned of her husband’s plan to sacrifice their son Yitzchok. In addition many of us have the custom to visit the grave site of dearly departed loved ones with the intention of requesting that they intercede on our behalf so that we be included in the Book of Life for the coming year.

In nine days on Yom Kippur many of us G-d willing will pray Yizkor in memory of our dearly departed loved one / ones. So today it is fitting for us to begin remembering. It is fitting for us to remember our loved ones and it is very fitting to contemplate how we want to be remembered. In other words, between now and Yom Kippur we should determine what is required to fit into the mold of the person that we want to be remembered as. We need to face this year with the hope that we have many more good, productive years ahead G-d willing. BUT we must also face this year with the resolve that it may be our last and we need to set things in order. This will be the last Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur for some of us! This is the time to prepare to meet our Creator. This is the focus and resolve we need heading towards Yom Kippur!! Each of us must ask the question from the practical side, ‘How do I want to be remembered?’ Each of us should ask the question from the spiritual side, ‘How do I want to be remembered?’ Then we must take the necessary steps to answer our question.

Li Shaw Naw - Toh Vaw - Tee Caw Say Voo
“For a Good Year, May you be inscribed [in the Book of Life],”

Wishing you the best!

Dr. Akiva G. Belk

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