by Yvette Perry
The High Holy Days are here—the time to pray, study, reflect, and remember. As Rabbi Levine notes, these High Holy Days really are different. And not just because we won’t be sitting in our seats, with our family and friends, looking up at our clergy, in our shule. Which, by the way, will be something we need not rue. We will get plenty of all that as our beloved shule is seeing to it. No, it is because there are so many confluent developments, situations, crises happening at once.
Such a time we are in. There is so much social unrest, a ghastly pandemic, a bewildering political landscape, uprising racism and anti-Semitism, police brutality, and more, and more, and yet more. How many of us can really wrap our heads around all that?
So in this period of teshuva—returning—let us take a break from dealing with all of that. Instead, if we concentrate on this one thing, just for a few minutes we may clear our minds of these other things. Because even though all these things are important to us now, we commemorate this one each year.
When September comes around, our thoughts are of 9/11, and all that was lost in the Twin Towers that day. Because that day changed everything. All of a sudden, we didn’t feel safe anymore. Anything was possible: bad things that we had no control over. No, we would never be the same.
Because it also hit us here in our own CRS home, right into our hearts, where it has stayed, and will remain forever. It is why we observe it every September here at CRS. So that, just like Yom HaShoah and Kristallnacht, we might never forget.
I introduce you to Yogi, the much-loved mascot of FDNY Engine Company 74, just down the block on West 83rd Street. He died in January of this year. He was 15 years old and he was a Dalmatian.
Yogi was named after Ruben Correa, a firefighter who died on September 11, 2001. You see, Yogi was Ruben’s nickname from playing softball. His fellow firefighters named the dog in his honor.
In describing Yogi, they say he had “a great disposition, he was good with all people.” They say that he was definitely a fan favorite in the neighborhood.
He was also a calming force during stressful days. “Yogi was very good at knowing how to calm us down after a tough EMS or fire call where he could tell we were struggling and needed comfort. He helped us get through the day.”
I tell you all this about Yogi because it is the best way I know how to tell you what kind of person his namesake truly was. Ruben Correa was all that and more. Especially to all of us here at CRS. When Ruben left Company 74 after a hard day’s work, he walked into our building to take on Security duties. With his sweet smile and affable nature, his kindness shone through every ounce of his being. He made sure we were safe. He protected us and reassured us, becoming a fan favorite here, too.
It is during these High Holy Days that we return to the things that are important to us, to remember those who we have lost who meant something to us—those who have left our hearts a little less whole. Just as Yogi touched hearts on those in the neighborhood, we remember Ruben who touched hearts right here in our community. Something important we need never forget.
(Yogi pic: John Keaveny; quotes: Company 74 firefighters/WSR)
(Rabbi Levine, The Chronicle, 2011.)