As I write this article, all I can really think about right now is that I lost my dad last week. It’s hard for me to accept even though I know it’s real. He lived a great life: a rabbi of a congregation for 42 years, a husband to my mother for 67 years and a man who cruised around the world three times as a ship rabbi. He lit up whenever I would bring him the HAKOL newspaper and he loved my articles. He was so proud of the work that I was doing for JFS. About a year ago, he handed me a booklet of his favorite stories. Perhaps this was his way of leaving me some of his legacy.
In spite of my grief, I know that I am extremely lucky because I have family, friends, co-workers and a community that has reached out to me to show how much they care about me. Seeing my dad in his last days being in a helpless state taught me a lot about life and letting go and being in a helping relationship. Even when my dad could no longer do very much for himself, he was always polite and expressed his gratitude to whoever cared for him. I admired that this strong man who had always helped his congregants demonstrated kindness even when he was in a weakened state.
My dad wanted to know who would be coming for Thanksgiving and when he said this, I wondered if he would be home. The holidays without my dad will never be the same. But, I am thankful that I have a circle of support. At JFS, we meet frequently with individuals who do not have friends or family to celebrate with on holidays or to provide comfort during sad times. While it’s difficult to fill the void that these individuals experience, volunteers in our community often are a source of support. The JCC and synagogues provide another place where persons can gather and not feel so alone. I dedicate this article to my dad in gratitude for how he inspired me as a person and professional.
Thank you for your support and I do hope that I will always remember the gift of giving to others and accepting help when it is needed.