Sunday, October 18, 2015

Dear Emmy,

Dear baby Emmy,

By the time you read this, odds are, you won't be a baby, unless you are one of those really special babies that can read. That's cool, though, if you become one of those. If so, put this down and come back in a few years when you aren't a baby. Good, thanks.

Dear Emmy,

You aren't a baby anymore. I can't promise how old you are, but if you followed directions, you aren't a baby anymore. So let's talk, why not? I just got to see you for the final time before you move to Israel. Tomorrow, you, your mom and your dad (whom you probably have some cuter name for) will be boarding a flight to Israel. You are making aliyah. I hope to see you in January when I come to visit, and I asked you this evening to know me when I see you again. After January, things are up in the air. I am not making aliyah right now. So you are going to go through a long spell without your bestest great uncle. Tough, I know. I'm going to become a name you hear bandied about when all the awesome stories are told. Maybe I'll be a face on a computer screen which you have no interest in seeing for more than a minute, just peeking in to attach a name to a face in some dutiful attempt to respect your elders.

I figure I'll become the great uncle who shows up to some simcha in 12 years (or 20 years) and you see me smiling and have to whisper "Who IS that guy?" to some relative (probably in Hebrew). You will have to be reminded when you review the pictures or video or holograms or whatever you young people use in the future. Then I will disappear into the recesses of a guest register to reappear at the next family event. You won't know me, and that's OK. Your family is doing something wonderful and taking you to a home -- a house and a homeland. But I'll miss seeing you.

So let me fill in some gaps so that you know who I am. I am your grandfather's younger (and awesomer) brother. I am 2.5 years younger and infinitely cooler (assuming that by the time you read this, Google Translate knows what to do with the word "cool"). As of now I live in New Jersey, USA and have my own kids, one of which is your first cousin once removed, Maddie. You know her, but the extent of your knowing her is based on her own decision as to whether she will move to Israel or not. My other kid is a bit more of a mystery to you. She's my Tali, distinct from your aunt of the same name. She is funny and brilliant and I sense that by the time you read this, I will owe her a lot of money. My Mrs. (your great aunt Julie) is a doula and about 17 other things, and tops in each and every field. She is the one in the pictures with the wild hair. Yeah, her. I am (as of this writing) a teacher. I also have rabbinical ordination, but I expect that in your neck of the woods, most people do (and by the time you read this, I include women, puppies and lamp posts in that estimation). I hope, by the time you read this, to be a 4 time lottery winner and super astronaut-rock-and-roll-baseball-player. Chances are slim, but the world is a magical place. In my spare time I pine. It's a thing.

The Mets are on television right now. It is October and this probably won't happen again before you read this so let's take a moment to relish this. Aaaaah. Better.

I first met your mom when she was born. We were introduced before that, but the handshake was super awkward. I met your dad a bunch of years later. Strangely, the handshake was similarly awkward. You have a great family on both sides -- loads of aunts and uncles who think the world of you and want you to be safe and successful. Personally, I want you to be famous because everyone in the generation before you has let me down, and not been anyone I can sponge off of, so step up and present the coat tails for my riding.

I like the Beatles and other classical music; my tastes in art are unpredictable so don't feel the need to buy me any. I collect coins -- I currently have 500 separate pennies which are collectively worth 400 cents. But someday...someday! I like living in the United States because we have certain luxuries like tuna fish and screen doors. I am a righty but I often change the channel with my left hand so I have mad skillz. I watch movies and television shows where fake people do things that make me laugh, or who explode, or both. I wrote poetry in my youth, took pictures when I went traveling and learned to cook because I really, really like to eat. Now, in my middle age, I read the closed captioning on TV because I don't know how to turn it off, look at pictures because I don't like to travel, and still like to eat.

I can sense the sincerity in the eyes of a child and completely appreciate when children cry as I approach. I take it as a compliment because I'm too dim to take it any other way. You didn't cry this evening. Then I bit your head and left, so you might want to email me and fill in the gaps.

Bottom line is, I am sad that I will miss out on much of your growth but I know you will become great. I am sad that I will be little more than a picture in an album (and a faceless blog post every now and then which you will pretend to read), but you will be surrounded by a holiness, a joy and a community which make me jealous. So breathe in Israel, enjoy growing up, and teleport over occasionally so we can play space catch or whatever.

Yours en croute,

Great Uncle Daniel


  1. Daniel,
    Thank you for your beautiful letter. We share your thoughts.
    Emmy's Great Great Aunt Shirley & Great Great Uncle Yehudal

  2. She cries when she sees me, too. But all babies do. I don't understand it. When I look in the mirror I don't seem so bad. I hope she looks at my picture every now and then -- especially if she can do so without crying. I doubt she'll see very much of me when she grows up.


Feel free to comment and understand that no matter what you type, I still think you are a robot.