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Who Has Sustained Us

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Worf sat stiffly in the pew with Alexander at his side, waiting for the rabbi to call them up to the bimah. Alexander was fidgeting, scooting his colorful Bokharan kippah over his forehead ridges and back again. Beside them sat Worf's adoptive parents, Sergey and Helena Rozhenko; in the row behind them were a few friends from the Enterprise--Captain Picard and Data in dress tunics, Counselor Troi in a dress of shimmering purple silk.

The congregation was mostly human, but Worf noticed other nonhuman faces in the crowd: a Trill man wrapped in a tallit, a Bajoran couple with three small children. He remembered the tiny shul he and his parents had attended on Gault, how it had been questioned by a few congregants whether a Klingon could be admitted into the covenant of Israel--and how relieved he had been when the Rozhenkos had returned to Earth and found a more inclusive community.

Troi leaned forward and whispered, "Worf, you should try to relax. This is supposed to be a joyous occasion."

Worf took a deep breath and muttered, "Your concern is appreciated, Counselor, but I assure you that I am quite relaxed." She smiled, shaking her head, and settled back into the pew.

The rabbi, a tall, slender young woman in a gray suit and multicolored tallit, delivered a sermon about the remarkable obstinacy of the Jewish people: how they had sustained their faith through persecutions, through temptations to assimilate into dominant cultures, through three world wars and even through humanity's voyages into the stars and first contacts with strange new worlds. For the benefit of the visitors, she pointed out that the ark that housed the temple's Torah scrolls held a miniature Torah once carried by a crewmember on Captain Jonathan Archer's Enterprise.

Finally, she called Worf to the bimah by the name he hadn't heard in years--Mordechai ben Shlomo v'Chana, the name given to an orphaned Klingon boy by the only parents he would ever know this side of Sto-vo-kor. Taking Alexander's small hand awkwardly in his own, Worf ascended the steps. He looked down at his son and remembered the time he'd spent in this temple, how his visits had become less and less frequent as he grew older and began to want to more fully explore his Klingon heritage. The first Klingons had killed the gods that created them, so the legend went; but Worf had found comfort as a child in the idea of an all-powerful, all-encompassing deity with many names. Worf knew he could not give Alexander a home on the Enterprise and hoped the sort of lessons he had learned here would help Alexander to find his own way in life.

As he blessed and lit a braided candle (the idea, the rabbi had explained to him beforehand, was to celebrate Alexander's twin heritages, Klingon and Jewish), Worf looked into the congregation and saw the eyes of both Deanna Troi and his mother watching him intently. He placed his hands on Alexander's shoulders as the rabbi pronounced the blessing.

Our God and God of our mothers and fathers! Sustain this child through his family's loving care. Let him be known by the names of Alexander Rozhenko and Asher ben Mordechai.

May God who blessed our ancestors Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, Sarah, Rebekah, Rachel, and Leah, bless Alexander. May his father and grandparents have the privilege of raising him, educating him, and encouraging him to attain a heart of wisdom. And let us say, Amen.

***
At the kiddush afterwards, while everyone else made small talk and munched on desserts from seemingly every planet in the Alpha Quadrant, Worf noticed that Helena was neither among her friends nor with Sergey. He found her sitting on a bench in the foyer with her face buried in her hands. "Mother!" The word echoed in the foyer, and he lowered his voice. "Is something wrong?"

"I'm sorry, Worf," Helena sobbed, dabbing her eyes with a handkerchief. "Having you and Alexander here is such a blessing to us. I just wish Nikolai had come--we asked, but it seems he never has time for us any more. I had hoped..." Her voice trailing off, she turned away. Worf cast a quick glance around him, then went to embrace his mother. After all these years, he thought bitterly, Nikolai is still making her cry.

***
It was late, and the village was still and quiet. A stocky, balding man rose slowly from his bed so as not to disturb his sleeping wife. He walked into the next room, which held a cradle and a few simple toys, and looked out of the rough-hewn window at the distant stars.

The man once known as Nikolai Rozhenko bent low over his child and softly sang an ancient benediction. "Y'varechecha Adonai v'yishm'recha..."