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A Lantern to Her Community

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A whisper, a wink, or a smile can capture a Rebbetzin in a bottle.

I had readied myself for this day for over a year, but nothing really readies you for the passing of a dear friend. It was the same month, only a year ago, but missing a week or two. I begged Hashem to please let my friend live; I wasn’t ready to let Him take her! The heavens wanted to claim her, but still on earth we cherished her spirit and lively personality.

A day without her felt like the moon took over the heavens, and the sun forever slept. Each day, I read her name with books of Psalms, tears just pouring from my eyes when my kids slept, and I held my breath waiting for our weekly class to arrive. Monday was our highlight, trying to trick my mind into that all was well, but in fact, my friend and congregant was very sick. Her greatest joke that we shared together is that she will live another fifty years and will outlive us all by a mile. When we reminded each other of this joke, we would laugh and dare not think too deeply about our “favorite joke.”

The day arrived, and no more jokes were to be had, even when she made her family read her poem, making us all promise not to be sad, but rather we all failed miserably because the words to describe in our hearts her day of mourning and passing were left empty. It was like my mind grew blank, and I felt bereft of feeling; words were gone, and all that was left was an empty canvas that was usually so filled, crowded, and busting at the seams. I said my goodbyes and had to remind myself that it would somehow be OK without our lantern and light.

My older sons, who thought they were the tagalong, were my comfort to the Rabbi and me; I knew that we needed escorts on this tragic day. I felt an inner peace when I looked at them in their serious but friendly expressions and chassidic garb. It proudly showed the emissaries of the Rebbe were here, and one could reflect and hope that the Frierdiker Rebbe, his predecessor, was escorting her to her final resting place.

A circle it became, reflecting and reminiscing, when we as a couple first came here on shlichus. It almost seemed that there was a family that was a lantern to their community before us, even if it just felt that way. The Frierdiker Rebbe had this beautiful correspondence from old letters that took years for her family to translate from Yiddish to English. Her grandfather, a great Champion of the Torah, always gave charity to the Frierdiker Rebbe and his Chassidim, understanding the difficulty it was to support and help one’s community.

It always boggles the mind; one really incredible thing is the place we went on........

© The Times of Israel (Blogs)

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