My husband was a doctor first and foremost – the kind of doctor one rarely sees anymore. He was full of chesed and treated every patient as if he or she were the most important ones. And he took care of a lot of the people others didn’t want to deal with. He treated the mentally challenged and made them feel six feet tall. I met some of them after his death and I cried with them as they tried to convey what he meant to them.
He did not have the benefit of a yeshiva education and in fact came to Orthodoxy in his twenties, but from the very beginning he had a love for Torah and a profound respect for rabbis. His belief in Hashem was absolute. He was a person of deep faith – though his standards, like my mother’s, were somewhat different from a lot of what people today regard as “religious.”
He loved the land of Israel and much of our charity went to support Torah in Israel. He was honest to the core. And he had strong principles. As was true of my mother, when he felt something was right he would always take a stand.
He was my best friend and I was very proud to be his wife. I am trying to capture the essence of who he was and yet I find that no matter what I write, it is lacking.
My mother’s last few years were very difficult. She was unable to speak and needed constant care. My sister was constantly at Mom’s side and we had devoted women who took care of her. It was hard to know what she was thinking as she followed us with her eyes.
My husband’s last few years were also quite difficult. He suffered a debilitating stroke that left him unable to do very much and he needed constant care. His last stroke took him from us, though he lingered in a coma for seven weeks. When I told my mother Ivan had died and I was going to Israel to bury him, she looked at me and tears rolled down her face. I knew then that she had understood me. And I think that was when she knew she could follow him. It was only a few hours later, as I was boarding the plane for Israel, that I got the news my mother had also died.
They were two strong, brilliant, kind, loving, God-fearing people. They were connected in life and remain connected in death.
The world is much poorer without them and I am bereft of my best friends.
About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.
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