Indeed, what a great bonus of our move from Montreal to New Jersey has been the opportunity to partake in amazing programming available in the Metropolitan area. An extra bonus, we availed ourselves of was the extraordinary day set aside by YU on April 14th to honor the 20th yahrzeit of the Rav.
As we reminisced and walked along Amsterdam Avenue that day, many fond and wonderful memories came to mind.
We lived at 501 W 184th Street many years ago – we shared our apartment with the occasional mouse, many cock roaches and wonderful, wonderful neighbors. As Avi and Toby Weiss said havdallah in the apartment directly next door to us we would answer “amen” through the walls.
As I walked underneath the windows of “the Morg” I wondered if water bombs are still thrown from the windows when boys who think that they are men need to play. I recalled how we walked along first as a newly married couple - and then as time went by as parents of our daughter Malke Leah. It was so easy – every time that I needed a baby sitter I would just call the dorm – whoever answered would be happy to run over (we lived directly across the street) and then they were rewarded with a Shabbos meal the following week. We did not know what it meant to hire a babysitter until Malkie was 2 and we left the secure net of the YU life experience.
When you saw a bochur scurrying across Amsterdam you would know that he was late for shiur. Or there was the case of two individual guys who shall remain nameless who would dart between doorways as they watched their Rebbe on his way to the Beis Medrash as they had decided not to attend shiur that day. Later in life they gave shiurim to their own students.
Memories – of days that are hard to describe and that some would have difficulty imagining.
What happened to “Parker’s”, I asked as we entered Rubin? “ Oh, now we call it the Caf! “, I was told. But it was always Parker’s to us where they had the best marble cake and strawberry shortcake. There was the added decoration of straws in the ceiling. It was a YU sport – trying to shoot your straw up as high as it could get so that it would protrude from the ceiling of the cafeteria. Just as they clear the kvitlach from the Wall twice a year so did the cleaning staff remove all of the straws. As soon as everyone returned from their vacations it would start again.
I remember as it was yesterday, the Rav entering the cafeteria sometimes holding his tray and other times someone holding it for him. When I think back to what a zchut that was and is to even have that memory. There was the “new Bais medrash” in the building on 185th and Amsterdam where Rav Aharon Lichtenstein would hold court for the kollel. The enthusiasm of learning has definitely not waned since those days.
The memory of the levaya of Rav Chanoch Henoch Fishman will always stay in my mind – all of the bochurim walking slowly behind the aron as it went down Amsterdam Avenue to the highway on its way to the airport to his final resting place. The kavod and emotion that was displayed was a first for me to observe.
The comraderie of the friends that we made during that time has remained with us. To this day when we meet many of them it is as though we were never apart. As our children grew and went onto Eretz Yisroel when they completed high school they would visit with our YU Friends who had made aliyah – inevitably they would be asked questions as to whether or not I still made the same meatballs that I did years ago. (I do). We made sheva brachot for so many in our small one bedroom apartment – no glitz – lots of wonderful feelings and celebrations.
Years later, here we were walking down Amsterdam remembering and recalling the beauty of that simple life. We were spoiled in that we knew the Rav from Boston as one of us was a Maimonides graduate. We greatly appreciate that we were a part of that era. Being a part of the YU family gave us the conviction to go on and become communal readers, in our case, rav and rebbetzin of a shul in Montreal. We stand proud of who we became due to the teachings and life which we lived on Amsterdam Avenue so long ago.
By Mordechai and Nina Glick