The Golden Rule

Meg Weinbaum Zucker
Personal Blog Post

October 1979

“On Rosh Hashanah it is written; on Yom Kippur it is sealed, who shall live and who shall die…..” In that moment I carefully slipped my one fingered hand into its favorite place (my Dad’s hand) during services at our synagogue, Sinai Temple. I had been staring at the Belber girls, always dressed impeccably with the perfect shoes to match. I glanced down at my own custom-made shoes. Because of the mold that had been taken to provide me the most comfortable fit, the shoes were round shaped, with little pretense of an extension for my non-existent toes. Earlier that morning my dad batmitzvahmeghad used shoe polish to make them especially shiny, as if that would improve their inescapably awkward appearance. I knew I was supposed to be excited to wear my wine colored shoes to temple, and one day in the near future at my batmitzvah, instead of the drab brown ones I wore to school. However, it was impossible for me to feel anything but depressed at the sight of these tiny, unattractive, “moon boots,” as I always called them.

Although my body was sitting with my family in the service, my mind focused on my friend, Josh, who sat two rows ahead of me. He had been sitting with his parents and older sister too, and I had just noticed his head was turned mouthing for me to meet him outside the sanctuary.

I whispered to my mother, also sitting nearby. “I have to go to the bathroom.” I watched Josh get up and leave and then waited a few moments to follow him into the hall, near the gift shop. “Let’s do Strangers in the Night!” I said to my friend, excitedly. Josh and I shared a love for music and it created an indescribable bond among a couple of ten-year olds. Years later we would play in the high school band together, he playing percussion, me on the trombone.

We actually didn’t know the full lyrics to Frank Sinatra’s melody, but Josh and I always thought it was funny to walk past each other singing, “Strangers in the night,” and then with a quick turn, burst out simultaneously and exclaim, “exchanging glances!” After a few rounds of our childish game, I looked down at my small shoes and my mood instantly turned.

Without having to ask, somehow Josh knew just what to say. “Hey, Meg. I like your shoes, actually. They are one of a kind and that is cooler than always being like everyone else.” I glanced at my lifelong friend feeling instantly grateful. There was something about his spirit that was always selflessly motivated to help others.