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How many books are enough?  My advice — don’t ask anyone in the Singer household, because we’re likely to say that you can never have too many books.  At last count we had 21 bookcases, most double-shelved, some with piles of more books on the floor nearby.  It’s absurd and probably a fire hazard (but please don’t tell my insurance agent that).

Why am I telling you this?  Because I leave tomorrow morning for the Davenin’ Leadership Training Institute (DLTI) and I’m supposed to bring a specific siddur (prayer book) and another of my choosing.  But which to choose?  One entire bookcase is full of different siddurs.  Reform?  Conservative?  Reconstructionist?  Old versions or new?  Weekday or Shabbat or High Holiday?  Arggh!

At this point my head is spinning and the only book I’m really worried about forgetting is my new volume of Sudoku puzzles.  Joking.  I already packed it.

I’m excited and nervous about going to the DLTI and on top of everything, I don’t know what to pack for a week in the Berkshires in the summer.  (My  thanks to all of you who are inclined to help, but don’t bother sending a message with advice — I won’t get it in time.  I’ll just have to hope for the best and overpack).

On a different topic entirely…. I happen to be a big fan of reading the obituaries.  It began when I worked at the Jewish Foundation in Norfolk, Virginia.  It was important to scan the morning paper, just in case a donor had died and there was a funeral to attend that day.  (Keep in mind that many Jews follow the rule that a person must be buried within 24 hours if at all possible, which means that  often there’s no time to spread the news.)

It’s equally as important now, of course, since I’m a fundraiser for the Technion in Haifa, and many of our donors are elderly.  Truth is, however, that I enjoy the obits.  I love reading about people’s lives, and what their families choose to tell the world.  We pass strangers in the street every day, and know nothing about them.   Sometimes they’re not strangers, but we still don’t know their stories.

Living in Sarasota, which is home to so many retirees, it’s not unusual to be acquainted with a person and not know anything about where they lived, who they were, or what they did in the world.  There was a man at my synagogue who I knew for years before I learned that he had been a prisoner of war on the Bataan Death March.  I was glad someone told me before he died, so I could ask him about it.  

The obituary page is a window onto a world that I’ll never know.

It must be genetic, because my sister is a fanatical obituary-reader and actually has a couple on her fridge for people she never knew but thought their lives were worth reading about.

Which brings me to William D. Taff, whose obituary was in this morning’s paper.  It ended with a lovely line: ” Bill was a man worth knowing and loving.”  That’s one hell of a tribute.  I hope that I earn one like that.

Not to worry; for now, I’m not planning on going anywhere… except to Connecticut for DLTI.  I’m bringing my laptop, but here’s a strong likelihood that I won’t blog while there, so you’ll just have to wait until next week to hear all about it.  Until then, blessings to you all.  Have a lovely week.

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