The beginning of a gift

My cousin Jimmy turned 60 this spring. I had wanted to give him a gift, and hadn't quite figured out the right thing. Jimmy grew up in the South and is one of those Southern men who makes everyone around him feel instantly comfortable. It's a lovely trait.

Jimmy grew up attending a Reform synagogue. As an adult, he and his family attend a Reform synagogue. But when Jimmy's father died, Jimmy attended services each morning at a local Chabad synagogue.

The custom at Chabad services is that mourners not only say Kaddish, they lead the rest of the congregation in the saying of the Kaddish. Mostly, that was not a problem for Jimmy. But one of the Kaddishs recited at the morning service is not the regular kaddish, it is Kaddish d'Rabanan, the Kaddish recited in honor of the rabbis and the scholars. This is not a prayer usually recited in a Reform synagogue. The Kaddish is not in Hebrew, but rather in Aramaic. Kaddish d'Rabbanan has one paragraph, that if you are not familiar with the Aramaic, can just break your teeth.

While Jimmy was in the year of saying Kaddish he called me to ask, "What is this 'talmideihon v'talmidei talmideihon' ??? I explained that the paragraph basically asks for peace and sustenance for both the teachers and the students of the people of Israel.

Jimmy had such a struggle with that paragraph that the children of the Chabad rabbi call Jimmy, "Talmideihon".

Last week, I was thinking about Jimmy's gift and realized that I needed to make him a was a wall hanging with the lovely prayer, that breaks his teeth. So here it is, at the first stage of doneness.

I love that this gift is both a joke, and also, not at all a joke. Expect to see more embellishment before this gift is complete.

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