Michel M.J. Shore

A Grandfather’s Signature and His Granddaughter’s Prayer at the Wall

A Grandfather’s Signature and His Granddaughter’s Prayer at the Wall

dedicated to the Memory of my Father, Sigmond Shore, O.B.M

He put a kippah on his gray-haired head. His hair had been gray for as long as I could remember. Slowly, after one more instant of reflection, he signed the release form with deliberation. There had been no hesitation in the pause. Rather, I was sure he had been quickly reviewing his life up to this moment. His well- known aristocratic family, gone, killed: his first wife, his son, his three sisters, his father, his mother, his famous uncle, his aunt, his brothers -in-law, had all vanished along with just about everyone from his past.

His present family: wife and two sons, one but a child of ten, the other older, but not yet of age to volunteer for civilian duty, during the latest war in the history of his people. The decision, he knew, was preordained like the duel which he had offered as a university student and won for the honor of his people, when a quota system was announced in pre- war Vienna; like his being wounded in the forests of Poland, where he had fought among the partisans; Like his active, concrete service to the beleaguered Zionist state in Post-War Paris. His arrival to the shores of the Saint Lawrence, to a new country, which he always called blessed for its freedom, could not be otherwise. His expressive, sad blue- gray eyes looked up as he held the paper. His signature on it was neat, distinctive, showing pride in the formation of his name. It was like his handshake, strong, complete, dignified, imparting his word, which to him, and in the teachings which he gave his sons, was sacred.

Even sitting, he looked distinguishably handsome. He was tall, always well- groomed and well-dressed. His concession to relaxation from frequent overwork was to loosen his tie and open his first shirt button. Somehow, he always looked dignified, without appearing to be formal when the situation did not warrant it. He always made others feel at ease in his company; and related on whatever level suited others and the occasion. His complexion was fair, his upper cheeks often red because of high blood pressure. His pale colour worried me, but not enough.

While he was writing, I had noticed and admired his hands, as I always did. He not believe in rings for men; he wore only his simple gold wedding-band and a fine watch on his left hand. One was immediately drawn to his hands, because his firm handshake was a symbol of his character; Yet, they were delicate hands, pale, thin, finely proportioned, with veins predominant. They revealed the strength of his personality and his delicateness all at once.

As I looked at the newly- reclaimed, ancient Kotel (Western Wall of the Temple), the scene of the signing flashed over and over again, as if screened on the Temple rocks. A shiver of fear came over me and I offered a prayer for my father’s health. I gathered a few loose pebbles from the Wall which ultimately landed a few weeks later in his grave, in Montreal, under the tombstone bearing his proud name.

Mount Moriah, the Temple Mount upon which the First and Second Temples’ layered, Wall stands, is said to be the place where Abraham intended to sacrifice his son, Isaac, before the hand of G-d stopped him. The word “ mora”, awe, which combines fear and reverence, was contained for me in the most sacred Jerusalem dust, which I gathered as my father was gathered unto his people.

About the Author
Michel M.J. Shore is a retired judge of the Federal Court of Canada and recently made a home in Israel. He is the writer of several published books and poetry collections.
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