The white silk kippah my great-grandfather wore every Yom Kippur in Calcutta is embroidered with light purple squares linked together. Meir Ezra Musleah was a lover of mystical texts, the gabai of the Maghen David Synagogue and a sweet singer. I don’t have a photo of him in this “cap,” as it was called, just one of him in a black cap choosing a chicken for kapparah, atonement, in the open marketplace in Calcutta. He didn’t know that my Uncle Meyer, who was named for him, was taking the photo; he would have considered it a graven image.
When I wear his white kippah myself on Yom Kippur I don’t mind that it is not new, or even that the silk has frayed to the point where you can see the individual threads. It connects me to a beloved person that I wish I could have known, in a time gone by. But I have rediscovered the place and made it my own.
L’Dor Vador. From Generation to Generation.