Curious George Goes To Synagogue
Some people laugh and enjoy my Curious George t-shirt while others think it looks ridiculous. I don’t care. I am wearing it on my morning walks to help me prepare for Rosh Hashana.
The Curious George books did not hold my attention for too long when I was very young. A student in my father’s yeshiva in Toronto, who now heads his own yeshiva, gave me a stuffed Curious George monkey when I turned four years old. I loved it. It made me feel that perhaps I really was a normal kid. I took it with me everywhere except to synagogue. My father didn’t think it was appropriate.
One morning, while I was praying, a career criminal in a clear crime wave stole my Curious George. I should have taken him into synagogue with me in order to protect him from such violent criminals. (Do you see what happens when you don’t go to synagogue?) My world of innocence was shattered. It was difficult to fathom that such evil existed in the world. It may have been possible in New York, but certainly not in Toronto, and unquestionably not in a Yeshiva! The world lost much of its purity on that morning. I had failed where the Man in the Yellow Hat never had; I wasn’t able to rescue Curious George.
My sister-in-law heard the story and bought a Curious George t-shirt for me as a 48th birthday gift. The shirt makes me feel just as I did 46 years ago. It may not be as mushy and squeezable as my stuffed toy, but it certainly brings back the memories. I can’t reclaim the innocence but it is joyous and soothing to recall those feelings of a world in which people do not steal Curious George toys.
Those recalled feelings of innocence and purity are what help me prepare for Rosh Hashana – the birthday of Adam. There is no innocence as perfect as that of a newborn baby. He or she has yet to wake you in middle of the night. You haven’t even changed a single diaper. Everything is perfect. The parents focus only on their dreams for their perfect child. They conveniently ignore that one day, this absolutely innocent and pure baby will become a human being.
That is exactly how I imagine God’s perspective of me on Rosh Hashana: a perfectly pure and innocent newborn, focusing on all His dreams for me. Even if it’s only for a moment or two, it is great to reconnect to that absolute innocence and remember that it is still alive somewhere inside of me.
Curious George now comes to synagogue with me. Not the doll, and certainly not the t-shirt, but in that warm and fuzzy feeling of innocence that changes the way I see the world and myself.
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