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cantorjlh
Dec 26, 2021
In Memories of Jewish life on LI
My mother (of blessed memory) was on the Board when the Baldwin Jewish Center closed its doors. A long time before that, I mentioned to a senior member of the Cantors Assembly that I had celebrated my Bar Mitzvah there. He laughed at me, saying, "BJC died, but forgot to fall over." The building may be gone, but the Baldwin Jewish Center will never die while I have breath in my body. Every time I open the Scroll at Sinai Temple in Los Angeles, where I serve Rabbi Wolpe, I give thanks for the teaching I received from Rabbi Spiro, Mr. Chazan, Mr. Solomon, and above all Cantor Victor Jacoby. I was privileged to do a little extra reading and service leading at my ceremony, and for a year after that I served as "left gabbai" on Saturday mornings. (That's stage left.) Later on, I was one of the "designated maftirs" who could walk into services during P'sukei D'zimra and be asked to chant a Haftarah with no advance notice. (I have in fact done that same thing twice in the last few weeks when Sinai did not have a scheduled Bat or Bar Mitzvah. This post is from late December, 2021.) Now I'm one of the "old guys", but I still remember them: Mr. Meislen, Mr. Picheny, Mr. Rosenzweig and Mr. Insel (whose sons were my schoolmates), Mr. Goldberg and Mr. Present (our cohanim), and Mr. Zalt (the other gabbai and one of our Levites). There were three different Messrs. Harris, not related to one another, and Mr. Geller. Shortly before the shul closed, I was walking in the hallway of Valley Beth Shalom in conversation with a senior couple and mentioned BJC. A much younger man walking with his wife heard me and asked if I meant Baldwin, Long Island. I said yes. He said, "My grandfather, Harry Geller..." I broke in, "YOU TELL HARRY GELLER HELLO FROM ME. HARRY GELLER WAS AT MY BAR MITZVAH." The word got back to Harry, who told my mother he had gotten the message. Even if the building is gone, we're still out there. Long live BJC. [Cantor] Jay Harwitt
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