The following story occurred 22 years ago and Eugene calls me every year to relive the joy of that moment. It highlights some of the heights a Shul can reach.
It was the beginning of December 1998 and the Shul was in the midst of a fantastic Simcha streak. Since we moved in to the new building in August, almost every Shabbos had a Mazel Tov, whether it be a new baby, a Bar or Bat Mitzvah, an engagement, an Aufruf or a Wedding. It was a great time to be a member.
As I left for Daf Yomi, my wife asked me if there was anything special going on in Shul this Shabbos. I told her, “Not this week”. As I arrived at Shul, I saw Eugene leaving the Shul with a big smile on his face. I asked him what he was doing at Shul an hour early. He told me he had to take a walk and get some exercise as per Doctor’s orders.
Davening proceeded nicely at its normal pace. After the Kohen Aliyah, Chaim K was called up as a Chassan in honor of his recent marriage to Esther G. Then came a Shlishi to remember.
The Gabbai called up HaChasan Yerucham Avraham Ben Yehuda Tuvia. HaChasan? Everybody looked at each other asking the same question, “Did you know?” But nobody knew.
During the course of the Aliyah it was confirmed, Eugene was a Chasan. He had managed to keep it a secret from everybody. A tremendous feeling of joy overcame us. After the Misheberach, somebody grabbed my hand and said let’s dance. In just a few seconds, we were all circling the Bimah singing Siman Tov and Mazel Tov. It was a sight to behold.
The feelings of joy continued through the rest of davening. The entire Shul was giddy. After davening, everybody was anxious to share the good news with whomever they could find. Somebody remarked that this was one of the top ten moments in our Shul history. We’ll be having a contest as to what the other nine events were. In any case, this was right up there.