Fast of the Firstborn, Erev Pesach.
This is the morning, that defined my Dad. Of course he celebrated his birthday, his anniversary, yom tovim…..but this — this is who he was. Avraham Aharon ben Esther v’Asher Zelig haLevi, of Chudliev, and Rakosin. Always.
From the time I was little, and asked him where he was going so early in the morning, I knew that this was the most important day on my father’s calendar.
And this is the first Ta’anit Bechorim morning that Dad was not there to listen to the early-morning siyum, to have a l’chaim in that unique clubhouse. In my Makom Kavua, my designated spot this year….. I went. Armed with a bottle of scotch, and a place-holding l’chaim:
By the time he emerged from the ruins of Auschwitz, he was the sole survivor of his immediate family. Anyone in the world that could verify his place as a firstborn son was gone. His mother, his father, both brothers, both little sisters, grandparents. At 16, he redefined himself as an adult, made his way out of smouldering Europe. Avraham Aharon had become Ernu under the Hungarians, Arnost under the Czechs, Arnold upon reaching Scotland and the New World.
But his identity never wavered.
And every year, he headed for shul this morning of Erev Pesach, to take his place among the firstborn sons of Israel, even though he no longer had siblings to be older than, nor parents for whom to be the firstborn.
I could not have been prouder when my ben b’chor, Benjamin, was deemed old enough to join Zaidy. Age 5, if I remember correctly. This may well be the greatest gift I was privileged to give my father.
So today we toast Avraham Aharon, and his precious legacy of identity. Am Yisrael Chai. L’chaim.