"Rabbis" by Peggy Tarr

Sept. 23 was the beginning of the Jewish holiday Yom Kippur.  G’mar Chatima Tova. (“May you be inscribed for goodness.”)

I lost a friend a few weeks ago, days before another Jewish Holiday, Rosh Hashanah. I attended his funeral, and although I was sad, observing the men wearing yarmulkes (brimless caps) was somewhat comforting.

My late friend’s Jewishness and my non-Jewishness had never been an impediment to our friendship. Along with many other things, my friend and I shared a common interest in the welfare of youth. 

I met my late friend Ivan Lippitz many, many years ago when I became a member of the Evanston Youth Commission, a commission on which Ivan sat.

After the Commission no longer existed, and even after Ivan moved out of Evanston, he and I would occasionally have lunch together. 

We shared jokes whenever we met. 

Actually, I just shared in the laughing.  Ivan was the one who told the jokes. I could never remember jokes. 

When Ivan no longer came to Evanston, he sent me jokes via email. 

Of course, Ivan and I also discussed politics, local and world issues, and psychology.  Psychology was Ivan’s vocation. 

While attending the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, I painted the picture of the rabbis below. A fellow student asked me why I (an African American) was painting rabbis. I said, “Because I want to.”  Jews and rabbis had been a part of my childhood. 

Ivan’s passing brought to mind some lines from the song “Will the Circle Be Unbroken?” (Written in 1907 by  Ada R. Habershon with music by Charles H. Gabiel): 

“There are loved ones in the glory

Whose dear forms you often miss.

When you close your earthly story,

Will you join them in their bliss?

Will the circle be unbroken

By and by, by and by?” 

Ivan will always be in my heart.  Our circle will not be broken.