It is less than a year since my father Frank's death and burial. In traditional Jewish fashion an "unveiling" of his memorial plaque occurred yesterday January 8th.
The usual prayers include the Mourner's Kaddish and the traditional El Malei Rachamim first instituted after the slaughter of Jewish communities by Crusaders in the 12th century. There was the recitation of the 23rd Psalm and a reading from the Book of Ecclesiastes.
After a cloth was removed from the newly created plaque with my father's name, the date of his birth and death, we each placed a small stone on it, to note our presence there.
But we had a small surprise for the guests and my Dad as well.
My son had returned from California for a visit and the day before we both walked to the famed deli Barney Greengrass in Manhattan. Known for their lox and smoked fish we both took note of the blocks of marble halvah covered in chocolate.
I'm not sure if he said it first or not but we both knew we had to buy a chunk of it–not only for ourselves but for Dad.
It was a transgenerational favorite among the men in our family. For three generations of Hodes men–halvah was the ultimate desert.
A sweet preparation of ground sesame seeds and paste with vanilla, chocoalte "marble" and covered with milk chocolate, it must be pound for pound the most dense of calories and carbs imaginable. But it was traditional, not only among Jews, but Poles,Turks, Arabs, Russians, Greeks, Bulgarians, Indians, etc. etc.
In fact it must be the food that is ultimately served at a Middle Eastern peace conference (if one ever happens).
And so we secretely brought the block of halvah to the cemetery and surprised everyone by offering it to all who cared to partake.
And then the final ceremony–a small piece was set on my Dad's plaque. We all smiled. In fact we laughed in honor and memory of a man who never complained, was an eternal optimist, cherished each moment of life and was noted for his infectious, unfettered laugh.
How much more fitting than any stone.
And all of us in attendance heard his hearty laugh.