The ties that bind

The ties that bind

Making a bow in Glen Rock

Behind every great father-son synagogue experience there is a little girl.

Well, at least there is one behind the “Kasha, Pizza, and Ties” program being held at the Glen Rock Jewish Center next month.

It was when a very young Dara Tow began innocently wiping her hands on her father’s neckties that Rabbi Neil Tow began to appreciate the sensibility of his cousin, who had long made a habit of wearing bow ties.

So Tow asked for and received a lesson in how to tie a bow tie.

“When I tell people that it’s one I tied myself, their eyes get wider. They say, ‘How do I do that?'”

In fact, says Tow, “the knot isn’t terribly difficult. With a bow tie, it’s much more about the finishing, making it look neat and well placed and centered and tight.”

The program, scheduled for February 21, is billed as “an evening for fathers to teach sons, grandfathers to teach grandsons… an evening for men to learn both necktie and bow tie tying.” With his daughter now 5½ and old enough not only to keep her hands off his tie, but to help him select which tie to wear, Tow sports both kinds of neckwear.

The choice of which to wear “is kind of a feeling of the moment,” he said. “I have never worn a bow tie to a funeral. I don’t feel comfortable. Even my solid black doesn’t feel right. For most other occasions I’m flexible.”

Bow ties “are something a little different, and fun. When you start to wear one, people will tell their stories of how someone in their family would wear one. It elicits a story,” he said.

“Part of the idea of the event is having fathers and sons do something for the first time. I’m envisioning us using that as an educational moment to teach the Shehechiyanu prayer for learning something new, adding something to our repertoire of skills,” he said.

Tow said that even though “we’re living in an age where dress is getting less formal, there’s still quite a need and desire to have neckware. On an average Shabbat, close to 75 percent of the men are wearing some sort of neckware – mostly neckties. There are a few scattered about who are not wearing ties; maybe a sweater, maybe a collar that’s open. Our community is pretty welcoming of the range of clothing choices.

“Maybe after this night we’ll have a few more bow ties from time to time,” he said.

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