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.

No comments: