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August 1, 2015 / 16 Av, 5775
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Es Kimpt Dir – Remembering My Cousin Ruzah


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My father was her uncle, not her parent, and he was just a few years older than her, yet the kibud av ve’aim she gave my parents (and my uncle and aunt when they visited) were beyond description. Though so many years have gone by, I remember my first time in Israel at age 11. I had gone with my father and a group of survivors from his area of Poland for some kind of commemoration. We slept at Ruzah’s for a few days – I guess her sons doubled up and we used one of their bedrooms. One night we were supposed to sleep somewhere else, but for some reason it did not work out and we returned to Ramat Gan and Ruzah very late at night. When she realized we were back, she woke her husband up, stripped the beds, placed clean sheets and blankets on them and gave us their bedroom. Nothing would deter her from doing so.

Ruzah gave freely and unconditionally. Many people do go out of their way for others– but they do it with “half a heart,” grumbling and complaining to their friends how hard it was and how much time they spent cooking or cleaning and about the great expense – and it’s all true. But these sentiments would never have occurred to Ruzah, because in her mind – “es kimpt dir.” You were entitled to “the red carpet” treatment, so how could she cut back in any way?

Though she might not have agreed with her guests’ politics or religious affiliation (her sons and grandchildren have been or currently are in the Israeli army), she did not define them by their views.

Everyone was of the right “schnit” in her eyes. I imagine a scenario where she would have said Shabbat Shalom to all passerbys. How many of us have been ignored or rejected because we did not look “the part” or because of a social status, like being single/divorced/widowed/poor, etc. and weren’t deemed important enough to be acknowledged?

I remember an incident decades ago that still saddens and infuriates me. I was chatting to a friend after shul when another woman walked up to us and greeted my friend, giving me her back. Other people have told me similar stories. My “non-observant” cousin would never have humiliated someone that way. She would have risked being hit by a car while crossing the street to make someone feel welcome. Because “es kimt dir – because you deserve it.”

To me, Ruzah was one of the frummest individuals I have ever known. I have no doubt that she is now in Shamayim, “rolling up her sleeves” and putting all the courage and gumption she can muster to approach the Heavenly throne. She will bend Hashem’s ear to be kinder to His children – to be more forgiving of their failings and to answer their desperate prayers for relief from their many troubles. She will be a passionate bater because “es kimpt dir.”

Ruzah was niftar on Shabbat, the 14 day of Tammuz

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