If we had put an order in for a perfect day for walking the Torah scrolls from the Lakeside almost home to our Oak Hammock Plaza (California Campus) home, the only thing we could have done differently was to make it one or maybe two degrees warmer. However, the actual temperature was truly perfect for the walk. No one who walked was cold or hot, no one suffered any ill effects from the weather – and THAT is NOT something I expect from an outing like this, so it really was perfect.
A three mile walk. Long? No, not really. We walked it quite leisurely with two major stops for drinks and snacks (and other necessary things) along the way. The walk was timed to be over the “regular” Religious School time so that the students would be able to participate with parents and any other adults who work during the week. We had made provisions for people to “shadow” us with cars and carry water and snacks, especially for the two planned major stops along the way.
The distance between the two locations was not that great, just over 2 and a half miles if we could have walked straight from one to the other. But we needed to cross the turnpike (safely) and chose a relatively simple route with sidewalks, good roadways, crosswalks, and other good safety features. That added almost a mile to our walk, but it was easily done within the two hours of school time.
The turnout for walkers was lighter than I had hoped, with less than a third of the students arriving. Some parents were concerned that the forecast temperatures would be too cold (they turned out warmer than the forecast), others were out of town, or “with the other parent,” so, as is often the case, there were good reasons for those not walking. Some young adults, some parents, a small, but motivated group gathered.
A brief safety talk, a reminder about why it is traditional to walk Torah scrolls and other ritual objects from Temple home to Temple home, and we were off on our way, only a few minutes after the designated 10 AM start time. The two-year old was snug in his stroller. We even had a retired/rescued Greyhound and a Cardigan Welsh Corgi accompanying us that we declared as symbols of the animals that walked with our ancestors. A blast on the shofar and off we went.
Along the way, there were many interesting discussions. One interesting one was about handling a fear of heights (as we walked the bridge that crosses the turnpike) and how to help each other face fears and accomplish tasks anyway. Another interesting talk was about Iguanas, Key West, climate in PSL, how long it took for the particular Iguana we saw to get as big as it was, and why it needed to sit on the abutment to collect some warmth.
As we turned north on Del Rio, we took our first stop for water refills and snacks. We also decided that the Corgi, with its much shorter legs, should probably ride the rest of the way. The rest of us set off.
The next leg pleased me even more in that the youth started picking up some of the litter and collecting it in bags. They announced that it should not be along the road and that as long as someone was not carrying one of the scrolls, they could be picking things up. One the first leg, only I had picked up a few pieces and thrown them in trash cans without saying anything. That the youth started doing this on their own made me very proud of them.
At our next stop, they threw away the sizable bags of trash they had collected, refilled water and snacks, rested a bit, and then we set out for the final leg – California Blvd. Amid adult cheers of “California Dreaming,” we knew we were getting close. Some of the young adults started talking about local memories since they had lived nearby.
A brief discussion with a police officer in an unmarked car earned us a wonderful escort from an officer in a patrol car the remainder of the way. PSL police made sure we arrived safely and easily. We thanked them as we entered the parking lot of Oak Hammock Plaza and entered our new home.
We put the Torah scrolls in the Ark and placed the menorah and chanukiah on top of the Ark. A final blow on the shofar marked we had completed the journey. We acknowledged the gift of our new home and our safe arrival by singing “Shehecheyanu,” (A source of blessing are You, Adonai, sovereign of time and space, who has sustained us and kept us alive through this season).
Then, of course, we feasted on pizza! It was a great day!
Thank you to everyone who helped in any and every way.