web analytics
July 29, 2015 / 13 Av, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

Zaida’s Spirit: A Tribute


Zaida’s presence follows me on my early morning walks to the park. Sometimes I imagine indulging in conversation, asking him what happened to those wondrous days following the Six-Day War, when the entire country belonged to us and our biggest problem was how to fill the vast areas that had fallen into our hands with Jews.

Those were days when we anticipated Jewish immigration from the United States and Europe, and prayed for an end to the Iron Curtain and a large scale aliyah of Russian Jews.

Soon after the war, the building industry boomed. North, East, South, and West Jerusalem were impregnated with building blocks. Up went Ramat Eshkol, Ramot, Gilo, Pisgat Zeev, Har Nof, all new quarters. Young Jews filled empty hilltops in Judea and Samaria, the nation was reacquainted with biblical names like Eilon Moreh, Bet El, Shiloh and Eli, and settlements were established that would soon turn into cities like Ariel and Maaleh Adumim.

“U’vneh Yerushalayim ir hakodesh” – “Rebuild Jerusalem the holy city, speedily in our days.” Words from tefillot and zemirot that my Zaida recited and sang, eyes turned heavenward, with genuine tears that rolled onto his beard and into his Kiddush cup. He wanted to live long enough to see those prophetic words implemented.

Some years back, at a U.S. Consulate reception, I met former Knesset member Rabbi Menachem Porush, who told me, “I have fond memories of your Zaida. Over fifty years ago, after the state was declared, I was a young man sent to America to raise funds for the old yishuv that was in dire financial straights. Your esteemed uncle, Sender Gross z”l, was my good friend, and when the ship docked in New York, your uncle invited me to spend my first Friday night in America at your grandparents’ home.”

Greeted warmly by Zaida, Rabbi Porush sensed the special Shabbos atmosphere emanating from every corner of the Williamsburgh basement apartment. “Your Zaida sang ‘Shalom Aleichem’ and then he stood to make Kiddush,” he said. “You know, I spent five decades as a member of Knesset and have traveled and enjoyed Shabbatot and heard Kiddush in almost every corner of the world, yet a Kiddush such as your Zaida’s I cannot ever forget.”

Rabbi Porush also remembered Zaida’s emotional yearning and love for Eretz Yisrael, expressed in his constantly stated wish to live there. Family and circumstances, however, did not permit the move. Zaida told Rabbi Porush that before World War II, he was one of a small group of local Jews who’d taken out the last pennies of their savings and invested in orchards that they bought in Eretz Yisrael. He dreamed that one day the orchards would bear fruit, and that he would get to taste of them. That investment failed, but he continued to dream.

Zaida woke at dawn every morning hoping that on that particular day he would be able to leave for Eretz Yisrael; it was what kept him going through forty years of American exile.

My grandmother passed away in 1961 on Hoshana Rabbah, and thirty days later Zaida put up a matzeva. His eight married children were mortified that he didn’t wait a year, as is customary in America, before unveiling a tombstone. The day after the unveiling, he left his entire family behind, including grandchildren and great-grandchildren, and boarded a flight to Israel. Zaida, who’d waited so many years for the opportunity to live in Eretz Yisrael, wasn’t prepared to wait even one extra day.

Ver veist vifil tzeit bleibt – One never knows how much time he’s allotted on earth – and my grandfather wanted to be sure to spend his last days and years fulfilling the mitzvah of yishuv Eretz Yisrael.

Having preceded him to Israel by a year, my husband, Sholom, and I were already living in Jerusalem when Zaida arrived in November 1961. He moved into an adjoining building in the same apartment complex, and we looked after him. We had our Shabbat and Yom Tov meals together; of his 26 grandchildren, we were the privileged ones.

The first Chanukah in Jerusalem, I tried to fry latkes the way my Bobba did, but the flame was too high and the burned latkes left a bitter taste in our mouths. I longed for blueberries and pineapple, unavailable in the Holy Land. We were part of an immigrant generation with its own nostalgic cravings. How long would we yearn for old favorites of the American golus?

About the Author: Faigie Heiman is an accomplished short-story and essay writer and the author of a popular memoir titled “Girl For Sale.” Born and raised in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, she has lived in Israel for more than fifty years.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “Zaida’s Spirit: A Tribute”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
The White House will free Pollard but bar him from traveling to Israel for five years.
US Won’t Let Pollard Out of Country for Five Years
Latest Indepth Stories

By most accounts, the one person with the political muscle to swing enough Democratic votes to override a veto is Sen. Schumer.

The next day, in a speech in New York to the Council on Foreign Relations, Mr. Kerry substantially upped the ante.

In Israel, the judiciary has established itself as superior to ALL other branches of the government.

The Fifteenth Day of the month of Av became a day of national rejoicing. The moment that had seemed hopeless became the moment of Redemption.

I think the melodies in our religious services have a haunting sound to them that just permeates your guts and gets into your soul. If you have any musical inclination, I think they inspire you to compose.

Cavalier analogies to the Holocaust are unacceptable, but Huckabee’s analogy was very appropriate.

Pollard was a Jewish-head-on-a-pike for all American Jews to see and to learn the explicit lesson.

If the Iran deal passes, Obama’s WH becomes world’s leading financier of terrorism against Americans

{Originally posted to the author’s website, FirstOne Through} Some passionate and eloquent liberals have bemoaned the state of inclusiveness among Jews today. Leon Wieseltier, editor of the New Republic penned an angry piece “J Street’s Rejection Is a Scandal” about the exclusion in 2014 of J Street from the Conference of Presidents of Major American Jewish Organizations. […]

Magnanimity by Moshe Dayan, allowing Muslim control of the Temple Mount, led to today’s situation.

It was modeled upon a similar fund that had been set up by Sephardic Jews in Venice. But Amsterdam’s Dotar was initially more ambitious in scope.

Rav Aharon Margalit is a bestselling author – his book, As Long As I Live, has been translated into four languages – and a standing-room only lecturer. Both religious and non-religious audiences flock to hear him. What makes him so extraordinary? Rav Margalit is a Chasidic Jew who experienced incredible challenges from a very young […]

J Street is the vanguard (Jewish face)in support of Obama’s Vienna Accords Nuclear Deal with Iran

“I hold the woman’s place over that of men in every fundamental aspect of public and private life.”

More Articles from Faigie Heiman
Mrs. Hench Leiman

Aunt Hench is a natural charmer. A people person, spunky and quick as only someone small as a light bulb can be, and wherever she is, she is a bright star.

President Reuven Rivlin

The president’s message was one of living peacefully in a Jewish and democratic state, Jews of all stripes unified as brothers, with Arabs or citizens of other religions.

Water: a fluid with life-giving force, a thin liquid even a trickle of which can assure survival. Crops, fields, land, people – we all need water. We need water for growth, for purity, for beauty, for subsistence. What do we do when water sources are depleted? We have learned not to behave like the young […]

Beautiful Site, Joy of all the Earth; two of the seventy names provided for Jerusalem.

Beautiful Site, Joy of all the Earth; two of the seventy names provided for Jerusalem.

At age 104, my mother was still concerned about her relationship with Hashem.

Erev Yom Ha’Atzmaut, 2012: As I return from a visit to my elderly mother in the northern part of Jerusalem, the bus winds its way through ultra-Orthodox neighborhoods. The stone buildings along the route are colorless shades of sand and grey, some new, some old and blackened with age. Men and women rush through busy streets, expressions of pain and joy, helpless and hopeful looks defining their faces.

Turning on the news Thursday night, I expected to hear the wretched daily tally of Kassam/Grad rockets shot from Gaza to into Sderot or Ashkelon; instead, breaking news streamed across the screen about a terror attack taking place that very moment at Yeshivat Mercaz HaRav.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/zaidas-spirit-a-tribute/2007/12/12/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: