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January 26, 2015 / 6 Shevat, 5775
 
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In Memory of my Zeidy, Harry Rosenthal

He never boasted about his accomplishments, preferring to work hard in the background.
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Yet he had his opinions, and things he felt strongly about, he was not afraid to express, both verbally and in his op-ed pieces in The Jewish Press. He was a strong supporter of Israel, and many was the time when I saw him read an article in one of the several New York dailies that he bought every day, mutter in disgust, and then grab a notepad to write a JP editorial in response. He eventually stopped buying the New York Times, because their attitude towards Israel bothered him so much.

Bubby and Zeidy are my model of what the perfect marriage should be. For nearly 66 years, they have been an inseparable unit, caring for each other, anticipating the other’s needs, enjoying each other’s company. They traveled the world together, yet, to me, there was nothing that so poignantly expressed their closeness as when they sat together at their kitchen table late at night, each reading his or her own book, no conversation necessary, yet wanting to share even the individual experience of reading, because every activity was so naturally done together. Bubby and Zeidy in my mind have always come together as a pair, and it seems so strange to think that now it will be just Bubby.

Bubby and Zeidy were world-class travelers, and must have visited over a hundred countries over the years. Yet I think one of their favorite trips – and certainly one of my most cherished experiences – was when we traveled to Europe together, the summer that I was 16. We toured Switzerland, France, Holland and England, and had our share of adventures, including getting our passports stolen in Zurich, but above all we had so much fun together, and not every teenager can say that about her grandparents. I’ve always felt so close to Bubby and Zeidy. My brother, Elie, sister, Tali and I looked forward to our visits with them every Sunday and, later, our own children felt the same way.

Some men, as they get older, have trouble being around the noise and activity of young children, but not Zeidy. Just as he’d delighted in us, his grandchildren, when we were young, his greatest joy was to spend time with his great-grandchildren. My older boys in particular, who knew Zeidy when he was more active, fondly remember Bubby Rivi and Zeidy Pop’s frequent visits when we lived in Passaic, and how Zeidy Pop had a special activity that he played with each one, whether it was a game of checkers or throwing a ball back and forth (how many great-grandfathers do that?). And, of course, they always ended their visits by taking us out to pizza. But even in the last few years, when he did not have the energy to play games, his biggest pleasure was in seeing Elie’s, Tali’s and my children.

One of the most difficult aspects of making aliyah was telling Bubby and Zeidy that we were leaving. I knew how much they would miss us (and we, them), and it hurt to know that I was giving pain to people who’d done nothing but shower me with love all my life. Yet Bubby and Zeidy rose to the occasion magnificently. Yes, they were sad and disappointed, but in typical fashion, they said that if this is what makes us happy, then they understand it’s where we need to be, and if they’re unable to fly out to Israel to see us, they’ll just have to fly us in. And they did, though the expense to fly in our bli ayin hara growing family was great. Each year they brought us in to the U.S. to visit, and I’m so grateful for the gift they gave us, of allowing my children to continue enjoying their special relationship with Bubby Rivi and Zeidy Pop. It’s a special zechus that he had the arichus yamim that his three oldest great-grandsons are able to learn mishnayos now in his memory.

Zeidy loved his in-law children and grandchildren, treating them like his own. My mother was like a daughter to him, and my husband Meir, my brother’s wife Chaya and my sister’s husband Yosef were like grandchildren. Special mention must be made of my brother-in-law Yosef, who, living nearby in Flatbush, was a frequent visitor, both helping out and keeping Zeidy company as they watched baseball and football games together. I know how much Zeidy looked forward to these visits.

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One Response to “In Memory of my Zeidy, Harry Rosenthal”

  1. Cassie Phillips says:

    A beautiful tribute to your dear Zeidy. Thank you for sharing this.

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