Close your eyes, breathe in deeply, now exhale slowly… That was easy, wasn’t it? Not for everyone…
On Monday November 21, the 15th day of Kislev, at 11:00pm, Mrs. Irene Klass, the Publisher of The Jewish Press and Editor Emeritus of The Jewish Press Magazine section, passed away. At the same time, her daughter, Naomi Klass Mauer, was at the airport, getting ready to escort the aronof her husband, Dr. Ivan Mauer, to his final resting place in Eretz Yisrael. Mrs. Mauer wrote the following hesped for her mother while on the airplane.
Mommy, Ivan – how could I lose you both in one day? Two mighty giants to shake the very heavens.
Oh Ma, you were the smartest woman I ever knew. I was always so proud of you. How I hoped you were proud of me.
Small in stature, a giant in every other way. So before your time. When we were children, you were already into organically grown health foods. Wash your hands you would tell us. Today, everyone knows how important hand washing is to prevent the spread of germs.
You and Ivan were both true intellectuals. I loved your easy banter on scholarly works. Ivan called you Mrs. Shakespeare and referred to himself as William. When you were already hardly talking you looked up at him and said “that’s Sir William.”
But probably your greatest midah was your tzedakah. You helped people you knew and people you never met. You were gracious and generous. Like Ivan, you saved lives. Your tzedakah saved many a family.
And your voice Ma, your beautiful singing voice from which a foul word never left your lips. Ah, but you were so elegant. When I was young, I knew I could ask you anything and you always told me the truth. Chesed was your first name and truth was your middle name.
Your articles and poems were extraordinary. Herman Wouk and Dr. Norman Lamm called you to praise them and when you praised an article of mine, I felt so honored.
You were Daddy’s strength. You gave him the encouragement to start The Jewish Press. You were his helpmate in every way. The success of The Jewish Press was as much yours as it was his.
Irene Klass and Rabbi Sholom Klass
at their wedding in 1940
When I was young my girlfriends used to say we won’t tell you because you will tell your mother, and I would say, yes I will but my mother won’t tell anyone. You were my best friend.
Your childhood was very difficult but you overcame everything. You had an inner strength. I know what it was – it was your deep faith in Hashem. I owe you my life and my strength and my strong faith.
Mommy, please forgive me for not being here. I will carry you inside me for all of my life. You and Ivan will be meileitzei yosher for all of us.
I love you my sweet, special, strong mother. You were greatness personified and we were the fortunate ones. Rest in peace, you have earned every reward.
* * * * *
The following hesped was said by Shandee Fuchs, editor of the Family Issues section and Mrs. Klass eldest granddaughter.
It is very difficult to stand here and say goodbye to Bubby.
It is even more difficult to even try to begin to describe Bubby to you.
To me, Bubby was the most special wonderful person in the world.
I am sure that each of my cousins will tell you how much she loved them, but it is impossible to describe the total unconditional overflowing love that I felt from her. My Zaidy and Bubby made me feel like the most special person in the world. I knew that they would do anything in their power for me, no matter what. In a world that is slowly going mad my Bubby and Zaidy were my stability, and my anchor.
Bubby was a role model of bitachon in Hashem.
Bubby would start each day talking to Hashem. She had a favorite place by the glass sliding doors to her terrace. She said she wanted to be able to look up to the heavens when she spoke. After she recited her brachot and Shema she would actually have a conversation with Hashem, beseeching Him on behalf of her entire family and the rest of Klal Yisrael.
Most of you who are gathered here probably have stories of your own about my grandmother and her amazing acts of tireless chesed. Wether it was through a monetary assistance or some “pull” or putting in a good word, or just listening Bubby was there for everyone.
Before Rosh Hashana I heard a shiur about our purpose in life. The speaker said that when we are born we are given a name by our parents, which is of great significance, but it is our job- our tafkid in life – to take for ourselves another name, one of the names of Hashem. We should live our lives in such a way that one of the attributes of Hashem should be attached to our name and we should be known for that. For example Avraham Avinu is known as the Eesh Chesed. In that way we will make a kiddush Hashem and know that we have accomplished what we were sent here to do. Last night I was thinking, which one of Hashem’s names did my grandmother attach to herself? What is she known for? And I just couldn’t decide. I went through all the middot of Hashem and realized that she was such a power house that she achieved all of them. Rachum and chanun- compassionate and gracious; erech apayim- I don’t think that I ever saw my grandmother be angry; rav chesed- abundant in kindness; and emet – Bubby was a person of truth, who stood up for the truth, even when it wasn’t the popular thing to do. Together with my grandfather, through The Jewish Press, they took on many causes because they were the truth and they were just, no matter what the repercussions were.
Bubby was a true eishet chayil- standing beside my grandfather all their years together. It wasn’t always easy times. And as the eishet chayil in Shlomo Hamelech’s song she never seemed to tire or stop. From early in the morning till the middle of the night and beyond- if there was something to be done or someone to help Bubby just wouldn’t stop.
Bubby prepared the way for us. For me especially, she was always there. When the time came, she became mine and Meir’s shadchan and introduced me to my best friend as well. When Hashem blessed me and I became a grandmother, everyone asked me what I would be called. They were shocked when I said that I was going to be a Bubby! They were sure that I was going to choose “savta”, however I told them I have a Bubby and that is what I hope to be.
The Yom Tov of Chanuka is just about here. It is a Yom Tov that symbolizes hashgacha pratit. Bubby was firm in her belief that Hashem is the One and only One Who directs everything from above. Our chachamim instituted that we light candles to commemorate for all time this belief in hashgacha pratit that was demonstrated so many years ago.
Bubby is my candle shinning ever so bright on the path that she so lovingly prepared for my family and me.
May Hashem help my family and me stay on her well-lit path.
I would just like to ask mechila for not being there as much as I should have.
Please forgive me.
About the Author: Naomi Klass Mauer is associate publisher of The Jewish Press.
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