Jacob Hertzman (1981 – 1996), alav haShalom, is remembered for his strength of spirit. Our congregation was blessed by his spirit when he was alive and we are blessed again today by his memory. Jacob loved Holy Blossom Temple. He knew it was a special place, intended for special purposes. He would even dress for the occasion of Religious School – always in his blazer and signature red tie.
With his father’s permission, I share this memory with you now.
“The Tower” by David Hertzman
(from The Jacob Stories, edited by Jill Hertzman and Elayne Freeman, illustrated by Florence Hertzman, Bow Tie Press, 2004.)
Jacob loved the Temple. Holy Blossom is an elegant structure, built in the 1930s. Its founders decided that a modern Reform temple should look like a church, bell tower and all.
We would often go to services together on Shabbat or holidays. There Jake would be, singing in a loud voice, sometimes joining the Torah procession or “helping” the Rabbi on the bimah if the mood struck him. He was always made to feel at home.
One day, after a service, we were in the upper hall of the school wing when I remembered that there were steps up to the tower. When I was a student, we were taken up for a special treat. I tried the door… it was open.
We entered the narrow space. It was dark, dusty and mysterious. Old cartons of records lay strewn about. Faint light emanated from above. We climbed the rickety stairs, up, up, up to the top. The tower looked out over the city. The Temple was spread out below. The walls were covered with graffiti – children’s names from years gone by.
The windows were grimy with years of dust, but that did not bother Jacob. He was so excited that he jumped up and down.
“You can see everything from here!” he exclaimed as he gazed out over the Temple and the city. “This must be what looking down from Heaven is like!”
We added our names to the many others, then went down the stairs and out the door unnoticed. After that, every time we went to Temple, we tried the little door. Sometimes, if we were lucky, it was open.
Years ago, David came forward and said he’d like to dedicate the tower to Jacob’s memory. Because our Renewal Project was always just over the horizon, his good idea had to wait.
But now there’s no more waiting.
As I write, the Diamond Schmitt architects are measuring the windows, our maintenance staff is clearing out the clutter, and Cary Solomon, the chair of our Renewal Project Building Committee, is working with his team to make sure the stairs are reinforced and better lighting is installed.
On Shabbat Shuvah, September 7, 2013, we will dedicate Jacob’s Tower.
Jacob’s mother, Jill Hertzman, will read from Torah. Four generations of Jacob’s family will have the aliyah. And during the Congregational Kiddush everyone will be invited (in shifts!) to climb those stairs and enjoy the tremendous views from the tower’s perch.
There are many stories attached to Holy Blossom Temple’s tower – some historical, some mythical, and many very personal. I’ll be sharing some of these stories over the coming weeks – online, in our bulletin, and from the bima.
Please share your own story of the tower below.
Our Renewal of Space and Spirit is gaining momentum and has sparked the imagination of our congregants, young and old. (www.holyblossom.org/jointherenewalconversation).
Thanks to the Hertzman Family we can all take inspiration now from Jacob and his view of Holy Blossom Temple, from the inside out.