Friday, April 30, 2010

Mackenzie reunion weekend

I admit it – I’m hyped. Last night I attended the kickoff event for my high school reunion, after writing about it in an advance article last month. (You can read it here.)

It’s now (yikes!) 36 years since I graduated from William Lyon Mackenzie Collegiate Institute in 1974, and the school is celebrating its 50th anniversary.

The program last night was fun – speaker Jeanne Beker, host of CTV’s Fashion Television and a 1970 alumna, reminisced about her Mackenzie days, including protests over the fact that girls weren’t allowed to wear pants to school.

And the combined school/alumni band was a highlight, with a spirited rendition of the school song, led onstage by Karen Mock, née Greenberg, Thornhill’s federal Liberal candidate and the song’s co-writer.

Full disclosure – I have friends in the band. But the truth is, I don’t remember that kind of school spirit in the ’70s.

The band also played Memories of Mac, composed for the occasion by 1973 graduate Jack Gelbloom (far left, with former music teacher Michael Cole) and dedicated in memory of John Krongold, his fellow alumnus, who died in March.

Tonight, David Eisner and Avery Saltzman, co-artistic directors of the Harold Green Jewish Theatre Company, will speak in the school library. Nathan Shuster, their former drama teacher – I still think of him as Mr. Shuster – will introduce them.

Last night I sat beside Mr. Gregg, my former Latin teacher, but I neglected to tell him that I still remember the difference between alumnus (masculine, singular) and alumna (feminine singular), and their plural equivalents, alumni and alumnae. And now I get to use them all in the same blog entry.

Looking forward to the main event tomorrow night.

Thursday, April 29, 2010

My virtual time machine

You’ve gotta love technology. I say this without irony.

I’d been thinking about what to write for my first blog entry, but earlier this week scrapped all my ideas after hearing an audio recording of my grandparents’ Seder, circa 1966.

Until recently, I didn’t know the recording even existed. A cousin who lives in El Paso, Texas had taped it on a reel-to-reel machine. Not long ago, he had the recording transferred to a CD, and another cousin gave me a copy this past weekend.

Now, thanks to iTunes and my Apple laptop computer, I can hear my grandfather’s voice, the way it sounded when I was nine years old, at the tap of my trackpad.

Kiddush over the first cup of wine, interrupted by a young child’s babbling and the resulting giggles from the older children, is one of my favourite parts. Evidently Grandpa Reuben found it amusing too. He paused and sighed at the interruption, but couldn’t suppress a chuckle before picking up where he left off.

Forty-four years later, I’m transported by technology back to the ’60s and, when I think about it, even further back in time.

In 1904, my grandfather arrived in Canada, alone, a handsome 20-year-old with a distinctive way of speaking – his accent, inflection, and presumably the tunes he would use at our Seder, shaped by his childhood in a town near Zhitomir.

Now, 126 years after his birth, an increasing number of his grandchildren and great-grandchildren stay connected on Facebook. We still have the Seder together, initiated the last few years by a group e-mail.

And today, writing this blog for the first time, it occurs to me that Shehecheyanu – the blessing for a new or special occasion, which follows that first Kiddush on my new CD – might not be inappropriate.

Technology, IMHO, has much to offer.