Tag Archives: yahrzeit

Brothers and Sisters Must Stick Together

19 Jan

“Brothers and sisters must stick together,” my parents would continually make this statement to my brother, sister and me throughout our childhood.  If we had a disagreement, they would intone this mantra. It was used in many ways.

If a friend of my brother’s bugged me, he would stop it. But then he would bug me.  Brothers protect sisters from others, but that does not mean he could not tease me. His interpretation of this saying.

Over the years my sibling and I have come together many times to help each other.  And this sentiment fills my mind and my soul. We will always stick together.  We repeated it many times when our parents passed away within nine months of each other.

As we cleaned and divided their homes, my brother would say, “Nothing is worth fighting over.”  And we knew that “Brothers and Sisters must stick together.”  It helped to hear these words from my parents. It was an emotional time, and sometimes we needed this reminder.

But I have to say my parents and their siblings took this to the zenith degree.  My Dad and his sister passed away within days of each other. It shocked us, as we sat shiva for both.   My Dad called my Aunt almost every day after my Mom passed, but even before they spoke often. And each winter spent months together in Florida. At the time I remember thinking that they could not survive without each other as they were so close. So although I was shocked when it happened,  I was not really surprised.  Brothers and sisters must stick together.

But this week it really amazed me.  To be honest my Mom and her brother had a separation.  They did not speak to each other the last years of my mother’s life. This broke her heart. Although she often spoke of her brother, Mom passed away before the rift was ended. Her mantra of “Brothers and Sisters must stick together,” did not help in this instance.  But my cousin, who I always kept close with, came to see her. And that help to ease her.

In the past six years the family has healed.  My siblings and I have visited with my Uncle. We see our cousins.  We help in times of need.  Brothers and sisters sticking together. The family has reunited.

Yesterday my Uncle passed away.  He had been ill for a while, but this week he went into hospice. I spoke to my cousins multiple times during the week.  And texted in between.  I love her and I knew this was so difficult.  And then he slowly slipped away, just days before his 90th birthday. When I got the call I was not surprised. But a few minutes later it hit me, this day was my Mom’s yahrzeit, the religious anniversary of her death.

I texted my cousin: her response was perfect, “Maybe now they will make peace.”

But to me it was a sign. To my siblings I texted, “Brothers and sisters must stick together.”

Is It Serendipity, Just Pure Chance? Or Is My Dad Listening?

2 Sep

My daughter lives in Israel and works at the Peres Center for Peace in Yaffo/Jaffa. I am so proud of her and all that she has accomplished. So when I learned at a committee meeting I serve on for my synagogue, Kehilath Israel, that they wanted more women speakers at services, I made an offer.

I told our Rabbi that my daughter would be flying in from Israel for Yom Kippur and for Succot, and perhaps she could speak about the Peres Center on the Saturday after Yom Kippur.

I figured I was doing everyone a favor: first after Yom Kippur everyone is exhausted. I thought the Rabbi could use a rest from speaking. Second, they wanted more women to make presentations, especially women members. Since my daughter grew up in the congregation, she would qualify on that account. Third and finally, my daughter would have a chance to tell the congregation about the Peres Center for Peace, providing some publicity for this non-profit and its work.

So it would be a little something for everyone, with positive outcomes for all.

The Rabbi agreed it would be a great idea. My daughter agreed, and said she would like to do it. Thus on the Saturday after Yom Kippur, my daughter will speak during Shabbat services at our synagogue.

I told my husband that he had to go to services with me that Saturday. We would get to hear our daughter speak, and perhaps ‘kvell’ a bit. But it is not to be, as he has to be out of town that weekend on business. I was disappointed, and a bit sad that he will miss it and will not get to hear her speak. I had been looking forward to sitting with him, among our friends, and sort of bask in the glow of hearing our daughter.

I told a friend about my daughter’s talk, and my husband’s travel. She understood my disappointment. She said her husband is out of town that weekend as well; so even though she belongs to a different congregation, she is going to come to services with me to hear my daughter speak. Okay I am not alone.

But today, I realized I was never really alone. That same Saturday will be the Shabbat that my Father’s name will be read to the congregation because his yahrzeit (anniversary of his death) is that week. I will stand and say Kaddish (prayer to honor the dead) for my Dad at services.

I say Kaddish for my parents, my grandparents, some cousins and my brother in law. It is the last act of kindness I can do for them. I remember them. Each time I rise to say Kaddish, I feel as though that person is with me for that moment of prayer. I commune with the in my mind. Their name is not forgotten. And so on this day I will remember my Dad and he will be with me.

My Dad was extremely active at his congregation, Temple Israel, in New Jersey. He served as president for eleven years. YES, 11 years. He went to services almost every week. It was his congregation, the Rabbi and the members, who emotionally supported him when my Mom was ill and then passed away.

It was members of the congregation that supported my siblings and I when our Dad died nine months after Mom.   They came to every night of Shiva. They brought food and gave us comfort. The Rabbi was there for us for too many funerals that year, even as he himself endured the loss of his wife.

My parents were so involved in their congregation. They shopped each Thursday at Costco to buy the food needed for the Shabbat Kiddush. They cooked; they volunteers; they served on the board; they went to services.

Mom was the daughter of European immigrants. The granddaughter, niece, cousin of many who perished in the Shoah, she also believed it was important to support the work of her shul (synagogue). My Dad believed in the importance of being a proud Jewish man, a husband, a father, a grandfather and a friend. He was so proud of all his grandchildren. He would be delighted to know she was making a presentation to the members of our synagogue. He would be so proud of her!

In my heart I want to believe that my parents know where my daughter lives and where she works. I believe they are watching over her. I do not think it is serendipity that my Dad’s yahrzeit is that day. I did not realize it when I made the offer. But it makes so much sense. It ties everything together for me.

When I rise to say the Kaddish, I believe he will have listened to his oldest granddaughter as she spoke to the congregation. I know that my Dad will be there with us, beaming in pride. Sometimes serendipity is more than just pure chance!