Tuesday, February 19, 2008


This morning our Rabbi was back in town after having been away on the saddest errand of his life: burying his beloved father.

It was twelve days ago that the Rabbi got the news that his father had suffered a massive stroke. The family gathered; they said their goodbyes to insensible ears; and the father was gathered unto his ancestors at the age of 91.

It was sad news, and an event our Rabbi had dreaded all his life, for he was exceptionally close with his Dad. Sad news, and yet not tragic, for here was a man who lived a long and productive life; who was sharp and alert, suffering no mental decline with the years; who had children of whom he could be proud; who had a successful son with whom he had a calling in common. His passing was quick and painless, the stroke having brought instant surcease. He would never have to suffer a lengthy, painful decline.

Our Rabbi had been up North to visit his father just a few weeks prior; his valedictory, though he did not know it. They spent days together, telling stories and rekindling old memories. It was a happy time, and now it will be the source of warm memories.

The family sat shiva in New Jersey, and then our Rabbi returned home, home to the embrace of his congregation. This morning, he stood at the back of the chapel and recited Kaddish for his father, his words carrying clearly through the room; afterward, he shared a few paragraphs from one of his father’s books, voice cracking with emotion.

At the age of 59, he has joined a club that none of us wants to join, the members of which have all lost a parent to the Unexpected Visitor. I’ve been a Reluctant Member for almost twenty years now, SWMBO almost twenty-two. Over time, paying the dues gets easier...but it’s never painless.

Over the years, our Rabbi has comforted so many of us in our times of loss. Now it is our turn to comfort him.

Barukh dayan emet: Blessèd is the True Judge.

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