My father, Nathan Shor, was unique. Born in the New World, he really was a product of the Old World, the one of his parents and grandparents. He loved that world; after losing his father when he was 19, he held on to it even tighter and carried it with him all his life. Most significantly for me, he made sure that his children were a part of it as well.
Jewish music and culture were major influences in our family’s life. In the 1960s, when gas was cheap and people went for rides on Sundays, we used to drive from DC in the direction of Baltimore; A.D. Glushakov’s Yiddish Radio Hour came on WBMD in Baltimore, and my father loved that show. When any Jewish entertainers came on TV, my dad sat us in front of the set. I can still remember seeing Jan Peerce and the Barry Sisters on the Ed Sullivan Show. Our summer vacations were spent in the Catskills, where Jewish music and entertainment were a big part of the experience.
My father had a big stereo console, like a piece of furniture, and he was always buying the latest Jewish records to play for everyone. Being in the motion picture business gave him the opportunity to get vintage Yiddish movies for the Hebrew Homes, and we had a 16mm movie projector in our house and hosted Yiddish movie screenings for all who wanted to come.
With the advent of the VCR in the 1980s, new possibilities arose. My father would tape everything Jewish and save it. Almost until the day he died, he would call me to watch or tape this or that show. It was all so important to him.
I wrote recently about going on the radio; I never would have had the breadth and depth of knowledge to do the show without all that he taught me. People were amazed that I was only in my 20s and that I was actually born in the United States!
As a choir singer and later a chazzan (cantor), I had a background that helped me to learn and understand the material; and it all came from my dad. People would ask him, “Where did Larry learn to sing like that?” He would laugh and say, “From me.” He was kidding, but there was a lot of truth to that. He may not have known it, but he was a great teacher. In exposing, teaching, and transferring to me this great love of Jewish music and culture, he enabled me to treasure it in my own life and carry his world forward to my generation. With my son Benjamin’s involvement in the Jewish music world as co-host, with me, of Washington Jewish Radio, it goes l’dor v’dor, from generation to generation. That is the legacy my father created.
In many areas of life, he taught me the proper path for living. Respect, he always said, was the key to everything. You had to do the right thing and no amount of inconvenience or expediency could ever change that. He treated everyone the same. He revered his mother and honored his wife and family, both immediate and extended. He gave the same respect to the guy mopping the floor as he did to the CEO of a major film company. He lived his entire life that way.
Our years of working together in the movie theaters brought a special closeness to our relationship. To this day, people who worked for him, many years ago, still speak of him with great fondness. My dad had a great sense of humor and loved to tell jokes and stories, and my dear readers know I have inherited that as well. My dad used to say, tongue-in-cheek, that for the first part of his married life, he was known as Myer Ehrlich’s son-in-law; then he was known as Larry Shor’s father.
Well, I have him beat, because I have the greatest title of all: I am Nate Shor’s only son.
T’hei nishmoso tzurur bitzrur hachayim. May his soul be bound up in the bonds of eternal life.
NEXT TIME: SUNDAY NIGHTS AT SEVEN
By Larry Shor