Wherever we went in Poland, there were signs for Kantors, or Money Exchanges. Some were regular Kantors, open during normal business hours; and some were open at all times, the 24-Hour Non-Stop Kantors. And that was the big joke, because that has been my grandfather’s title for the past several decades. The Cantor. The singer in the synagogue. The guy with the big voice. The teacher. The officiator. A whole life of being a leader in the Jewish community, while also having a whole other life I could never fully know and can hardly imagine.
How can anyone come out the other side of the Holocaust and still be sane? How do you find a way to still make life worth living? How do you still find the good in people? I’ve heard his story many times, especially on this trip, and I find with each telling that I’m still learning something new – about him, about myself, about the way the world works.
There have been difficult nights after difficult days during our travels – and yet, in the morning, he is waltzing out the front door of the hotel, singing to the strangers in the lobby. Singing out loud, in his big voice. My very own 24-Hour, Non-Stop Cantor.