Wednesday, June 25, 2014

To: Milo

To: Milo
From: Your parents, family, and dear friends
Date: 23 June 2014 (25 Sivan 5774)
Re: Becoming part of community

Milo, we were overjoyed to introduce you to the world on your eighth day of life. Below are some thoughts from David (Cantor Frommer), your parents, and others whom we hope will be important people in your life.

Becoming Part of the Covenant/Receiving Your Name

Ruach avoteinu v’imoteinu, kayeim et hayeled hazeh l’aviv ul’imo. V’yikarei sh’mo b’yisrael Yosef Ben Basha Leah v’Yoel Shmuel. Yismach ha’av b’yotzei chalatzav v’tageil imo bifri bitna. Zeh hakaton gadol yih’ye. K’sheim sh’nichnas labrit, kein yikaneis latorah ul’ahava ul’ma’asim tovim.
May the spirit of our ancestors sustain this child through his parents’ loving care. Let him be known among our people Israel as Yosef, son of Basha Leah and Yoel Shmuel. May his mother and father rejoice in his creation and in the growth of his body and soul. May his name be a source of joy to him and may it inspire him to a life of Judaism, of learning, of love and of kindness. And let us say, Amen.
Milo Cousens Aufrecht – Yosef ben Basha Leah v'Yoel Shmuel – your name deliberately includes your connection to the Cousens and Aufrecht clans, and each of those families offers a rich heritage that was marked by the events of 20th century Jewish life, by community, and by a commitment to intellectual curiosity and social change. We are excited (and sad) to share with you the Aufrecht German heritage, history, and tremendous tenacity, and the Cousens' role and sense of responsibility to Detroit labor life and Jewish life.

Your first names are for your great-grandparents, your Grandma Bonnie's parents, Miriam and Joseph Cohen. Your ema had a very special relationship with them. They prioritized family and community; their home was the center of their large families' gatherings in the 1950s and 60s, and they each served in Temple and home association leadership roles. They were athletic; they bowled and swam. They traveled and loved adventure. Joseph particularly was intellectually curious, trying to learn about all kinds of topics and keeping up with technology as it changed. Their house was filled with books, with non-fiction and classic novels. Joseph read the paper every day, complaining and commenting (like your father). When your ema was sixteen, Miriam had a stroke that incapacitated her. For almost thirty years, Joseph took complete care of Miriam without resentment. He took over the cooking, he managed their social schedule, he lifted her and put her into bed. His patience for her care and love for her were equaled by the care with which she had built a home for him earlier in their lives.

Miriam and Joseph were the people who made your ema feel safe, who supported her growth in her early years, who took her swimming and told her stories. Some of her earliest memories are of being with them or of being in their home. Joseph taught your ema and Uncle Jeffrey to play checkers and cards and told them bedtime stories of Brer Rabbit. Miriam brought your ema to art classes and made special birthday celebrations. They lived through her mid-thirties, and she spent much of her twenties and thirties with them in their house in Florida, helping her Grandpa take care of Grandma and visiting with Grandma, or running errands, cleaning, managing finances, just trying to support them. They were an anchor in her life. May you have their love of community and family, Joseph's generosity, patience, and love for his children and grandchildren, Miriam's sense of community leadership and responsibility, their desire to explore and to support change in the world.

Blessings

from your parents

Milo, may your heart be open to wisdom from all sources, from your community's tradition and from traditions of the world. May you use this wisdom to learn, to teach, to protect and to take action. May you be given long days and years, a life of abundance and honor, a life in which the good wishes of your heart, will always be fulfilled. And let us say, Amen.

from Rabbi Carla

Welcome to a family that values really yummy vegetarian food; thoughtful and well-researched debates about social justice issues from labor to privacy; dedication to ambitious projects like a do it yourself treadmill desk and climbing to the top of every peak in San Francisco; and working hard to have healthy relationships and bodies. Your parents seek to do everything with integrity from shopping for diapers to their Judaism. They may not be the most laid back parents but they will be tireless in their pursuit of your intellectual, spiritual and emotional health and happiness.

I cannot imagine a child in this world that was more wanted then you.

May you always feel surrounded by a family and community that loves and supports you.

May your connection to the Jewish people be a foundation and anchor in your life.

May you live a life of authenticity, having a strong self of sense wherever life takes you.

from your mom/ema

I don't know what a blessing is. When I look to the origins of the word, it's somewhat absurd. Will I give you your own land? A line like the stars? After this past week, I'm convinced no one should have that many children. But this line of inquiry is helpful. I can try to wish for you a journey like Abraham's, to describe your birthright as with Isaac, to convey what your name means as with Jacob. Your name in its entirety captures all of the life that we hope for you. Whimsy and uniqueness, strength. Adventure. Curiosity, as Milo learned in The Phantom Tollbooth. Real question asking and assumption turning. Abraham went on a journey lech lecha, into himself. May you know yourself well, may you be comfortable and make yourself uncomfortable. As you journey, may you be grounded in the comfort and security that you are loved as you are by many. May that security give you the confidence to go forth and explore with a genuinely open heart and kindness toward yourself and others.

You're being born into a pretty crazy world. Fifty years ago this week, three civil rights workers were killed in Mississippi for trying to make this truly a country of equality. Many things have improved in this world since then, but many have not. Your birthright is one of progressivism, of belief in a different world, one of social and now environmental justice, and dogged pursuit of that world. May you have courage to live your values. And may this life not make you crazy. "You are not obliged to finish the task, though neither are you free to desist from it."

Rav Kook wrote of an individual having a four fold song, of being aware of and attuned to his own soul's song, to that of his particular community, to that of humanity, and to that of the world. He says that in some, these songs "mix together at every moment and at all times." May you know yourself, and may the songs of your tradition, all humanity, and the world become part of your own song. May they stimulate you and may you contribute to them.

Your father and I spent a long time looking for each other, and then a long time looking for you. We got to really consider how wanted you are, how loved you would be. In this time, we have been fortunate to become immersed in a circle of friends and family who will love you and support you, stimulate and challenge you, make you laugh, and complement us in making sure you get what you need. They do all of that and more for us - we couldn't do this without them. They are our teachers, as friends and as parents. Many of them are here today and we're so grateful.

Your four grandparents, your aunt Moni and uncle Jeffrey, your great aunts and uncles, are simply pretty great. You will learn and gain attachment from them in ways we can't provide, thank goodness. They have given us so much, and we will have them in mind continually as the three of us find our way.

from your dad

Milo, may you give and receive much kindness. 

from everyone

Milo, as members of your community of family and friends,
We pledge this covenant of support to you and your parents
We promise to provide you with the warm comforts of community
To celebrate you in times of joy
To mourn with you in times of sorrow
To introduce you to new ideas and new perspectives
To offer you encouragement, acceptance and love.
We seal this covenant with this blessing:
Milo, be who you are
And may you be blessed in all that you are!

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