Originally published in January 2009.
Were he still alive, my father would have turned 100 on New Year’s Day. At least that’s when we would have celebrated his birthday. Accurate record-keeping was rare in the village he came from in Pinsk, Russia. Growing up, Dad said his birthday may have been in mid-November since he was named Joseph, after the biblical figure whose Torah portion is chanted in synagogues at that time of year.
You may recall from Sunday school—or the hit musical Joseph and His Technicolor Dreamcoat— that Joseph was sold to a neighboring tribe by his brothers, jealous that he was their father’s favorite. His brothers also didn’t like the dreams Joseph had suggesting, that he, their much younger brother, was destined to lead them. When he went to find his shepherd-brothers tending their flock, they stripped him of his rainbow-colored tunic, threw him in a pit and prepared to slaughter him. Persuaded by another brother not to kill him, they settled on selling him to the Ishmaelites for 20 pieces of silver. The betrayal Joseph experienced may have been more dramatic than many of us have experienced—or have heard of—but his story still serves as a cautionary tale. Indeed, during his lifetime, my father and his family were betrayed by one of his brothers. Continue reading »