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A meeting meant to happen

Friday, 25 June, 2010 - 12:44 pm

On Shabbat last week, community members attending services in the Shul seemed to feel a collective sense of momentousness, the Shul was completely filled; later arrivals found that there was standing room only.  In fact, the feeling that there was something special about the day was on many levels quite correct.

Standing in front of the congregation, I saw a middle aged man with a nice gray beard sitting in the last row. I did not recognize him, and imagined that he must be a guest. Then Dr. David Kirk, a ninety-two year old honourable member of the community, arrived in the middle of the service. I have known Dr. Kirk for several years and it was very nice to have him join the service.

Minutes later I noticed that the newcomer’s face had begun to brightly change colours; it was quite clear that he was shocked to his core...

Only at the lunch following the Kiddush did our guest, who we now know as Dr. Michael Grand, tell his story:

“Sixty years ago I found out that I was adopted, and my life turned upside down. I couldn’t fathom how this was going to affect my life. Years later I read Dr. David Kirk’s book, and once again my life was not the same. His book is the foundation of one perspective in adoption theory, and it had a profound impact on my life. As I carried out my own research in the field of adoption, Dr. Kirk’s work was a source of inspiration, and remains so in my current position as a professor of clinical psychology..."

"I met David a couple of times, but I didn't know if I would ever see him again.  I recognized him from the minute he walked into Shul". With tears in his eyes Dr. Grant continues "I'm so greatful to have the opportunity to thank him again for all he has done for me..."

Comments on: A meeting meant to happen

Morah Faigah wrote...

What a wonderful story. Wish I'd been there. I'm still in Calgary and will spend Shabbat with family.

Good Shabbos everyone.

Lesley Lambert wrote...

My maiden name is Grand. Michael made his connection to the Grand family (via a mutual friend/acquaintance) through my father, Morry Grand of Vancouver, after years of searching. We had a memorable reunion. My father and Michael's father had been very close first cousins in Winnipeg.

Aniket wrote...

There is a major difference teewben a social contract and a law. To RabbiRoth, halakhah is indeed law, based what he calls the Grundnorm, the Torah. According to him, we are commanded by a Power beyond us. A violation of a mitzvah is a breach of a commandment, or in Roth's words, a sin . In a social contract, there is no concept of a Commander, rather it is a compact voluntarily entered into. You so well expressed the voluntary nature of the acceptance of mitzvot when you wrote we need to convince people to buy into the system of keeping mitzvot, such that it observance is not so much a question of “should I observe this or that individual mitzvah” but instead “do I want to live my life in this particular way?”This approach makes it possible for a serious member of a Conservative congregation to observe those and only those mitzvot which will enable him to live life in his or her particular way but not necessarily in this particular way. This may include the whole corpus of halakhah, or the three instances set forth in Roth's quote, or only one or two of them. What is important in my mind, is that the choice or non-choice is done knowledgeably, respectfully and thoughtfully.If, in our synagogues we foster such a thoughtful approach to our tradition rather than a commanding one there will be a future for the Conservative movement, one which will perpetuate the intellectual approach to Judaism for which the Seminary has stood for from its inception..