For many years the highlight of my Yom Kippur was watching my father a”h as he opened the Aron Kodesh (ark) at Neilah.
Year after year my father was honored with this important kibud. He would stand to the right of the Aron, perfectly erect, virtually at attention, draped in his talis, and enveloped in his white kittel as the Chazzan recited this final tefilah (prayer) as the heavens opened and the Yom Hakadosh (holy day) came to a close. It is a memory forever imprinted in my mind and one that I visualize every year as I begin the chazaras hashatz (Cantor’s repetition) of Neilah.
This past summer as we began the process of cleaning out my mother’s house we found in one of her closets my father’s kittel. It has not been worn for the last 30 years. This year when I daven Neliah I will, please G-d, wear my father’s kittel and I will be reunited with his neshoma (soul) in a most intimate way.
My father accomplished much in his lifetime. He was a devoted husband and father, an important leader of the Jewish community and a compassionate friend and advisor to many in need.
In his merit may my tefilos (prayers) to be accepted by the Master of the Universe and may we all be sealed in the book of life.
G’mar chasima tova.