Friday, April 24, 2009

A Day of Mourning

היום חמשה עשר יומים שהם שני שבועות ויום אחד לעמר
Today is the fifteenth day of the omer - two weeks and one day

חסד שבתפרת
A day of loving kindness in a week of compassion

As I look to the start of the month of Iyar tomorrow, some of my Rosh Chodesh joy will be diminished as I think of two families who will be mourning a loss.

My friend Sharon Goldstone's dad, Jack Goldstone, passed away Tuesday evening. I didn't know him but based on what I heard at the funeral today, I really missed out. He was a man of great honor and integrity, with a sense of humor that will transcend his death, as the recounting of his life and words brought laughter amidst the tears. Another Holocaust survivor who lost his entire family, he managed to make it to Shanghai and then to San Francisco. He then forged his own family with much love--and that love will live on in his children and grandchildren. And while the Goldstone family is now grieving, it is a grief filled with fond remembrance

The grief that Esther Safer's family is now feeling is much more raw, pervasive, I'm sure, with a feeling of "why?" Esther passed away on Wednesday evening from complications of an epileptic seizure. She was 25 years old.

I knew Esther as a young, committed Jew. I met her when she attended our minyan for a period of time--adding to the ranks of tefillin-wearing women. She was a wonderful Torah reader, and had a passion for Judaism and Jewish practice. She would often join us in Torah study on Monday mornings, and had no problem challenging Rabbi Lew when she did not agree with him. One morning, needing to get his attention in an argument, she called out to him, "Dude!" Looking at our somewhat shocked faces, she realized what she had said and turned beet red. But we all laughed, including Rabbi Lew, and for the next few weeks Rabbi Lew was often referred to as "Dude" -- a moniker he was happy to have. She spread much joy and will be missed.

For Jack Goldstone; for Esther Safer

Zichronah, Zinchronoh l'vrachot

May their memories be blessings for us.

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