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Thursday, July 28, 2016

Sitting Shiva, Showing Home Movies and Other Tips

I'm almost finished sitting shiva for my brother. Just over two hours left. Soon I'll change out of my shiva "outfit," the same clothes I've been wearing since leaving for his funeral. Except for Shabbat, I've been wearing the very same outer clothes, skirt and two-layer top. The outer shirt was ripped at the funeral in one of the Jewish customs.

When we sit shiva, weeklong Jewish mourning, one is supposed to ignore the usual dressing and grooming care. No hairbrushing or clean clothes. Also no bathing. Yes for sure, I'm looking forward to taking a shower, shampoo and putting on something clean!

The night before my brother's funeral I was at my New York daughter's, and she took out a set of DVDs that my brother had made from our old home movies. We watched a couple of hours worth. She gave me the package, and I took them home. Yesterday I decided to put them on to watch and turned off the sound. The sound was just some musical accompaniment the "film to DVD" place had added. In the 1950's and early sixties, home movies were silent.

So, in addition to the little album my eldest daughter had made before I left Israel for the funeral, I now had moving pictures of my brother and our family life way back when to show those who came to לנחם linachem, comfort me. These family movies were from about 1956-1960, if I'm not mistaken. There are additional DVDs that follow my parents and us well into the early 1980s when we moved to Shiloh.

Here I am riding my bicycle near our last* Bell Park Gardens, Bayside, NY apartment, 67-62 Springfield Blvd.

I moved the low chair I had been sitting in to a place I could also see the screen, and I'd talk about my brother and the world in which we grew up.

One advantage of showing the home movies over the picture album, which people continued to look at especially since it included photos from his entire life up to a few weeks before my brother died, was because pretty much everyone in the room could see it at once.

Few of those who came had any real idea of what it was like in a place like Bell Park Gardens, which was such an important formative part of our childhood. My brother was ten when we moved to Great Neck. Seeing us and it, in faded color, brought my stories to life far superior to even the most descriptive words.

And for me it was very meaningful and comforting to see my family, parents, siblings, cousins, aunts, uncles, friends and the locations which loved and shaped us all.

*We lived in three different apartments in Bell Park Gardens from December 1949- August 1962.

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