Tuesday, February 11, 2020

Errandonnee 13: It's heavy in here

So at first I wasn't sure how file this one.
I could file it under "You Carried WHAT?" since it's heavy.
But the weight here is spiritual and I'm fairly sure that's not what the category is for.

I went to the public memorial service for one of Portland's most famous and longest-serving rabbis.

He was the senior Rabbi when I began working at the large Reform temple here in Portland, and while I found his one-on-one style rather formal, he was very encouraging and a fan of my music and teaching in the religious school. He was one of my early teachers in my adult explorations of Jewish communal life. And so, when his death was announced a few days ago I knew I'd go to the public memorial gathering.

I took the bus over the Lloyd Center, and then I rode into town over the Broadway Bridge.
Photo: A bit of Portland's groovy bicycle infrastructure. We have a number of strategically-placed bike signals that hold back turning cars until the bikes have passed through the intersection.

The day was very cold, and the West Hills were partly shrouded in a thick fog. I couldn't really see much of anything to the north past the Fremont bridge. The cold air hurt my knees and hands but it felt good to ride.

The service was, well, kind of heavy. I knew enough to arrive early because, while bike parking wouldn't be an issue, seating would be at a premium and it would likely be full by 4pm
This temple is Oregon's oldest synagogue, founded in 1858 (a year before Oregon became a state).
Rabbi Rose served as the senior Rabbi for over 45 years, as far as I know the longest tenure of any Rabbi in Portland.

It's also a very affluent congregation, with US Congresspeople and Senators, Oregon State officials and members of city government, and corporate and industrial heads. It's also the home of four of Portland's oldest Jewish families, people whose ancestors helped to build the city back in the late 19th century.

So, as you can imagine, it's hard to attend an event like this and not bump into that wealth and comfort.
It's also home to the more recent senior Rabbi I worked under there, before I was laid off in spring 2014. He and I did not part well, and today he walked past me three times, each time within a foot of me, and each time he quickly averted his gaze to avoid meeting my eye.
I said nothing and focused on greeting friends I knew -- a huge chunk of Portland's liberal Jewish community was in attendance -- and let it slide.
Things basically rolled out respectfully as various folks who knew the departed Rabbi Emeritus spoke fondly of him. Finally, the scion of one of the Four Jewish dynasties got up and spoke, reverting into a political diatribe that he insisted the Rabbi would have not only agreed with, but would have declared from the bimah word for word. At the sight and sound of Portland's richest man putting words into the mouth of a dead man, I felt I'd been there long enough for my presence to have paid due respect, and I quietly left and rode downtown, where I caught a bus home. (It was getting too dark for me to see safely, and my headlight was on the fireplace mantel at home recharging.)

I felt heavy and vulnerable and annoyed and unsettled all at once. The ride downtown did some good, and being home has definitely helped me feel calmer.

I still have one category to fill, which I hope to do tomorrow.
Category: Non-store errand.
Total pedaled: 4.5 miles

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