Tomorrow, the 10th of Adar, is Isaac Meyers' second yahrzeit.Isaac was a doctoral candidate in Classics in Harvard. He had grown up on the Upper West Side, attended the Heschel School, and was a regular at Ansche Chesed with his parents Bill and Nahma, and his sister, Hannah. Then something happened, and somehow he made his way to Old Broadway, which he attended for a year or two, and then made his way to England and them to Harvard. Nevertheless, he often visited home and when he did he could be counted on to make the minyan and, if we were really desperate, to come back to minchah. He was both sweet and funny and always lifted everyone's spirits.
When he was still attending regularly, Isaac did something that some of us of found disturbing. He proposed that we include the traditional prayer, the misheberakh, on behalf of the welfare of the President and Vice President of the United States. Some thought that the services were already too long and that adding this short prayer would make things worse. Others felt that President Bush and Vice President Cheney were not worthy of our prayers. Others undoubtedly thought that we were adding something new and accordingly were opposed. Nevertheless, we had a process in that the officers discussed the proposal and ultimately decided to include the passage. By the time that we reached this decision, I believe that Isaac had already moved to Harvard, so I did not get a chance to see what he thought now that his proposal was accepted.
Over time, the objections to the prayer fell. No one really noticed the extra minute it took to read the prayer. And those who didn't want to pray on President Bush's behalf had their dreams answered. As for tradition, it is funny how time makes even new things seem like they have been here for ever.
Whenever I recite the misheberakh for the President and Vice President, I think of Isaac, and I miss having the opportunity to discuss with him how his proposal has fared at shul. I am glad that I have a frequent opportunity to recall him, and as I say the prayer for our political leaders, I hope that Isaac looks down upon us from heaven and gives us one of those mischievous smiles that we remember him for.
The photograph of Isaac was taken from www.forward.com.