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April 19, 2014 / 19 Nisan, 5774
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Posts Tagged ‘funeral’

Syrians Bury Dozens of Suicide Bombing Victims

Sunday, December 25th, 2011

Thousands of mourners took part in a mass funeral for 45 people killed in twin intelligence agency compound bombings in Syria’ capital city of Damascus on Saturday. The attacks involved suicide bombers, the first such attack since opposition to President Bashar Assad’s rule arose in March.

An additional estimated 166 people were wounded in the attacks.  One took place in Damascus’ upscale Kfar Sousa district at 10:30 on Friday morning, when a suicide bomber detonated his explosive-laden car outside a military intelligence building.  The second attack took place a minute later at the gate of the General Intelligence Agency.

Relatives and friends of the deceased, loyalists of Assad’s regime, wore black garments and carried Syrian flags and pictures of the dead, chanting “Martyr after martyr we want no one but Assad,” according to a report by the Associated Press.  Coffins were draped with Syrian flags at the Omayyad Mosque, built in the year 715, the burial place of Crusader nemesis and former ruler of Jerusalem, Saladin.

All but six of the remains were identified.  Most of the victims were civilians, though some were security officers.  State television broadcast the funeral live on-air.

Assad’s administration responded to the attacks by saying preliminary investigations point to al-Qaida, further suggesting that the current battle with opposition forces was not a battle with reformers, but rather with al-Qaida terrorists.

For its part, opposition members said Assad himself could be behind the attack, which took place the day after a team of Arab League observers arrived in country to investigate Assad’s crackdown on resistance.  Anti-Assad forces also expressed concern that the recent attack would lead to a massive onslaught in central Syria.  Furthermore, reports from rebels indicate that Assad is inhibiting the work of the observers and causing delays for the team.

On Saturday, at least three people were killed in Baba Amr by shelling, with homes and stores set on fire.  Another four bodies were found dumped on the streets of Houla in the volatile Homs province, with indications they had been tortured.

One Good Deed

Thursday, December 15th, 2011

One Good Deed

A person should always strive to do good, for one good deed alone may assure him the rewards of Gan Eden. For Rabi Yehudah HaNasi would say, “One may acquire Gan Eden in a single hour while another may acquire it after many years [over a lifetime].” (Avodah Zara 10b).

One such incident occurred many years ago in the town of Koritz wherein lived a tailor who made a special effort to violate every precept of the Torah. No respectable Jew would deal with him.

One day the tailor died and as was the custom of the time, the gabbai of the town called upon the people to attend the funeral of a fellow Jew. But no person would attend the funeral of this evil person.

The gabbai then approached the home of the Gaon Reb Pinchas. Imagine his surprise when the Gaon took his cane and started out for the funeral. When the gabbai next visited Rav Yakov, and told him that Reb Pinchas was attending the funeral, he expressed surprise.

“I must see why Reb Pinchas is attending the funeral of such a sinner,” he said and he too started out for the funeral.

Everyone Attends the Funeral

When the people of the city saw these two pious rabbanim attending the funeral of the sinner, they became intrigued and they all began to follow the entourage. Eventually the entire city turned out to pay homage to the tailor.

On the way home from the funeral, the crowd surrounded Reb Pinchas and demanded to know why he had attended the funeral.

“I will tell you the reason,” said the Gaon. “Two months ago I was trying to raise hachnassas kallah funds. I finally succeeded in raising sufficient money to arrange for the wedding. But at the last hour the groom backed out. He said he had been promised a new suit by the bride’s parents and unless he received it, he would call off the wedding.

“In desperation the bride turned to me for help. As I had already approached every resident of the community for money, I had no choice but to turn to the tailor for help. That night I entered his home and told him the story. He gave me a ruble. But as I started to leave he called me back and said, ‘Rebbe, if I give you all the money for the entire suit will you promise me the future world, Olam Habah?’

“Yes,” I said. “He then gave me fourteen rubles and I was able to perform the wedding ceremony. Now that I heard that this tailor died I decided to attend his funeral and see the results of his charity.

“Would you believe it,” continued the Rabbi before the multitude of people, “over the coffin I saw a shining halo of a suit and angels dancing around the coffin waiting to escort it into Gan Eden. Therefore you can see how great is the mitzvah of tzedakah. One mitzvah alone saved this man and assured him a place in the next world.”

Hospitality To Strangers

Being hospitable to travelers is one the cardinal mitzvos of our Torah. The Talmud tells us: Rabi Yehudah said, “Hachnassas orchim is greater than even welcoming the presence of the Shechinah” (Shabbos 127a). Rabi Yochanan said, “Hospitality to strangers is as great as the early attendance at the Beis Hamedrash” and Rabi Dimi of Neharea said, “It is greater than the early attendance at the Beis Hamedrash.” Therefore every community in the small towns in Europe, would have a gabbai whose duty it was to assign travelers to the various homes in the community for Shabbos. When a stranger would arrive in town he would seek out this gabbai who would then place him in one of the well-to-do homes.

One Friday, very late in the afternoon, a merchant entered the town of Altuna. As the gabbai had already exhausted all of the host’s homes, he was in a quandary where to send the poor man for Shabbos.

“You better see the rav, the Gaon, Rav Yonason Jonathan Eibschitz,” he said. “Perhaps he may have a place for you. Although he himself has already taken more of his share of people, he may have a suggestion.”

They both went to the Gaon’s home where ,as usual, there were more than a dozen guests and absolutely no place for another person.

“Tell me gabbai,” asked the Gaon,” Does Reb Lazer have any guests for this Shabbos?”

“That skinflint,” snorted the gabbai, “He is the wealthiest man in town and yet he will never allow a stranger to enter his home. He is too sick to entertain guests, he claims.”

“I have a plan,” replied the Gaon. Calling the merchant over to him he said, “If you will follow my instructions to the letter I can assure you that this wealthy miser will welcome you with outstretched arms.”

Celebrating Jen

Wednesday, October 20th, 2010

What a beautiful woman.  Really – in every sense of the word.  She was beautiful in appearance, beautiful in conduct, beautiful in spirits and wow, what a beautiful mother, wife and daughter.

There are so many people these days who ask the question “why do bad things happen to good people?”  This will not be the focus of this article.  Rather, I would like to share with my readers the essence of a remarkable person.

Jennifer was niftar (passed away) at the age of 39 after a thirteen-year battle with cancer.  According to her doctors, she should not have lived those thirteen years, but Jen had other ideas.  Jen was my niece, my wife’s brother’s youngest daughter.  It was almost thirty years ago, though it seems like yesterday, when our families got together in Niagara Falls.  In my mind’s eye, I can see Jen jumping up and down on the bed.  In fact, I believe we even have a picture of her doing so, somewhere in one of our many albums.

Jen was a fighter who would not take “no” for an answer.  She knew what she wanted and went after it.  She fought the fight of life, against all odds.  In doing so she leaves behind a remarkable legacy.  She met her husband when she was 31.  Because of her cancer treatment, it was suggested that the only way they could have children was by harvesting her eggs and using a surrogate mother.  Jen’s life reflects challenges with rewards.  When the harvested eggs did not take and the surrogate mother could not become pregnant, they decided to apply for adoption.  The adoption agency was overwhelmed with the wonderful traits of Jen and her husband and they soon became the proud parents of a little girl.  Shortly thereafter the surrogate mother became pregnant with the last harvested egg and they became the proud parents of a little boy.  Now they had two infants five months apart.  The children were her life and for her everything revolved around them.  In fact, when Jen went into the hospital for the last time, though she was already critically ill, she insisted on being able to leave in order to take her daughter to school for the her first day of kindergarten.  That was the kind of parent she was.

Why am I sharing this story with my readers?  Because Jen deserved the tribute and you deserve to gain from Jen’s story.  Her loss is our loss and her attributes should become our attributes – that of living a better life as a better spouse, child and parent.

Jen loved music.  At her funeral, her sister, a doctor, remembered her through Bette Midler’s song “Wind Beneath My Wings”.  How appropriate these words are as they reflect Jen’s love of others and of life.

 

“So I was the one with all the glory,
while you were the one with all the strength.
A beautiful face without a name for so long.
A beautiful smile to hide the pain.

Did you ever know that you’re my hero,
and everything I would like to be?
I can fly higher than an eagle,
’cause you are the wind beneath my wings.”

 

One of my favorite old songs is “Bridge Over Troubled Water” by Simon and Garfunkle.  I can’t help thinking of this song as I remember Jen.  Hers were the attributes of love, being there for your friends when times get tough, relationships and caring.

 

“When you’re down and out
When you’re on the street
When evening falls so hard
I will comfort you “

In her death, Jen’s attributes can be a lesson for each of us.  Here are some of the descriptions of Jen given at her funeral.  She should be a mentor for each of us:

 

  • “UNSTOPPABLE.  And this, of course was the theme of HER life.”
  • “She came to my side and got me out of trouble on a regular basis….and this was the theme of OUR relationship”
  • “No hurdle too big for her”
  • “Gives you the shirt off her back”
  •  “Love and pride of her family”
  • “Thinking of others”
    • “Fun”
    • “Determination, tenacity, and her will to slay the dragon”
    • “Conviction, drive, determination, and inner strength”
    • “Persuasive in getting what she wanted”
    • “Message of love and a physical representation of hope, beauty, and pride”
    • “Confidante”
    • “Tenacity”
    • “Great mother”
    • “Didn’t question the wonderfulness of being here on earth”
    • “Celebrated life and fought for it like nothing you’ve ever seen”
    • “We all learned to live each day to the max and celebrate EVERY occasion”
    • “To know, know, know you is to love you”
    • “Fought a valiant fight”
    • “It is what it is.”
    • “Knew how to live life to its fullest and taught everyone else around her how to do just that”
    • “Her kids were her number one priority. Family was number 2. After that she had a long list”
    • “The key lesson that Jen taught us was to always try and not dwell on what is wrong with your life, but what is right with it. To plan your life and live it to the fullest, just like she did.”

 

“Time is too slow for those who wait, too swift for those who fear, too long for those who grieve, too short for those who rejoice, but for those who love, time is eternity.” –Henry Van Dyke.

My hope for my family, and you, my readers, is that you will be inspired by Jen.  Learn to love like Jen did. Love your children, your spouse, but equally, and maybe more so, love yourself.

 

Mr. Schild is the Executive Director of Regesh Family and Child Services in Toronto, Ontario Canada.  He is certified as an Anger Management trainer and conducts many therapeutic workshops.  Regesh runs many programs helping families and youth dealing with personal and family issues in their lives.  He is currently open to speaking engagements.  He can be reached at 416-495-8832 extension 222 or eschild@regesh.com.  Visit www.regesh.com.  See our second website specific to our enhanced anger management clinic at www.regeshangerclinic.com.

Mazel Tov – Cause For Weeping

Wednesday, August 4th, 2010

There is so much tragedy, so much sham in the world, that people no longer know how to make a distinction between emes – truth, and blatant falsehood – and we Jews suffer from this plague more than others. Israel is constantly under attack, constantly demonized by a world that has become increasingly anti-Semitic, by a world that would secretly be happy to G-d forbid, see yet another Holocaust unfold.

Even a blind man has to see the brazenness with which anti-Semitism has escalated among the nations, and this despicable condition prevails in our own United States as well. From Jimmy Carter to Mel Gibson to Helen Thomas to Oliver Stone who spoke out in support of Hitler’s policies and damned the “Jews who control Washington,” anti Semitic vituperative continues unabated.

Oh yes, all these people were quick to apologize, but their apologies are empty, worthless words. The Jew-hater of today drops his venom and then hides behind those hypocritical words: “I’m sorry…I apologize…I misspoke…” And with those vacuous explanations, the Jewish community is lulled back to sleep. But what we have to remember is that the situation has become such that these hatemongers feel comfortable giving voice to their incendiary remarks.

Now it’s one thing when we, the Jewish people, have to deal with all these outside satanic forces, but it’s something else again when the decimation comes from within. Long ago, our prophets proclaimed, “Your destruction shall come from within…”

The Patriarch Jacob, whose life experience foretold our own exile, beseeched G-d, “Rescue me from the hands of my brother – from the hands of Esau…” (Genesis 32:12). Our sages comment on the apparent redundancy in the passage. After all, Jacob had only one brother, and he was Esau, Therefore, it is understood that the word brother must be a reference to him. Why then, the repetition?

But the Torah is imparting a profound, vital teaching, to help us survive the dangers that lurk in exile. Sometimes, it will be the bloody hands of Esau that will prey upon us, and that, alas, will be only too easy for us to identify. But at other times, the onslaught will be more insidious. Esau will appear in the guise of a brother and extend the hand of friendship, love and marriage. And that will spell the ultimate decimation through which, G-d forbid, entire families will silently disappear.

I recall, many years ago, when my husband, HaRav Meshulem HaLevi Jungreis, zt”l, was called by a local funeral chapel to officiate at the funeral service of an elderly Jewish woman. In her old age, the woman had moved to Florida, but the family plot was in a cemetery in Queens, so they brought her back to New York for burial. Since there was no family rabbi to officiate, my husband was called by the chapel.

When my husband returned home, he broke down and wept. I was at a loss to understand his total grief. After all, the woman was in her late 90s. She had lived to a ripe old age and my husband had never met her. Why the extreme reaction, I wondered. When I asked him for an explanation, he told me that she left behind three sons, and the wives of all three wore little crosses around their necks… the grandchildren, of course, were not Jewish.

“Today,” my husband said, his voice choking with tears, “I buried the last Jew in this family. Thousands of years of Torah and majesty, thousands of years of sacrifice and martyrdom have come to an end for this family with the death of this old lady. Is this not cause to weep?” my husband asked. His question hung in the air. There was no answer anyone could give.

All this occurred many years ago. In those days, there were still individuals capable of shedding tears at the thought of a Jewish family silently disappearing in the melting pot of intermarriage. Today, such events have become so commonplace that no one even takes notice. And more, in many Jewish circles, there is actual rejoicing. “As long as my children are happy, that is all that matters” parents rationalize. With over 50-90 percent intermarriage, depending upon the community, the Jewish people are silently hemorrhaging, and most often, these events are greeted with shouts of “Mazel tov!”

A case in point was this week’s wedding of Chelsea Clinton to Mark Mezvinsky, a Jewish young man. I actually heard some of our people respond to this interfaith marriage presided over by a Reform rabbi and a Christian minister with excitement and elation.

“Isn’t it wonderful,” they gushed, “that in the midst of all the dismal news in the world, we can celebrate such a joyous event! Mazel Tov! It just goes to prove that all this talk about anti-Semitism is highly exaggerated.”

There are people among us who are so far removed from their faith that they don’t even begin to comprehend the extent of the Jewish tragedy. Whether it’s Chelsea Clinton marrying Mark Mezvinsky or Caroline Kennedy sealing her marriage vows with Edwin Schlossberg, it doesn’t diminish the painful reality of yet another Jewish family silently disappearing. The fact that multitudes do not see it this way, the fact that they do not comprehend the loss compounds the sorrow and testifies to the spiritual bankruptcy of our people.

Alas, it is only too easy for some of today’s Jews to give up their faith since they do not know what they are giving up. They belong to an orphaned generation that lives without a memory, without a past.

My husband’s tears were not only for that elderly Jewish mother, but for all the mothers and fathers who have become the last on their family trees. Not only is there no one to remember their names, but there is no one to even pronounce the Kaddish for them. Just consider that tragedy, and you too will weep.

The Chief Rabbi’s Funeral

Wednesday, July 2nd, 2008

           In a recent front-page essay (May 30, 2008) and in last month’s “Glimpses” column we traced the life of Rabbi Jacob Joseph (1840-1902). Rabbi Joseph, who studied in the famed Volozhiner Yeshiva, was an outstanding Talmudic scholar and one of Rav Yisroel Salanter’s main students.

In 1888 he came to America to serve as the chief rabbi of New York. Unfortunately, his efforts at bringing order to the chaotic situation in the kosher meat business were unsuccessful. In addition, the organization that had brought him here, the Association of American Orthodox Hebrew Congregations, declined to the point where it began to renege on its obligation to pay Rabbi Joseph’s salary.
Conditions took a serious turn for the worse in the spring of 1895, when the retail butchers banded together and rejected the chief rabbi’s authority and dispensed with his supervision.
A contemporary wrote, “The Rabbi was left without any income and is in dire straits, and there is nothing that can be done with him now. He and his whole family are in very serious difficulties.”[i]

Reduced to abject poverty, Rabbi Joseph was forced to move his family to a squalid Lower East Side tenement flat.

 

To Rabbi Joseph’s financial distress was added physical illness. He was confined to his bed, an invalid the rest of his life. The community that had once hailed him now completely neglected him. Forgotten was all he had done to elevate the position of the East European Jew in New York and to establish dignity and integrity in the religious institutions that served him. All but forgotten, he lay on his bed of pain, remembering what had been and musing no doubt on what could have been.
At the end of July 1902, the Chief Rabbi once again became the topic of discussion. On the 28th of the month he breathed his last, and headlines announced his demise the next day. He died at fifty-nine [sic], after a five-year confinement to his bed because of paralysis. [ii]

The Funeral

Word of the rabbi’s death spread rapidly throughout the Lower East Side, and the very people who ignored him while he was alive felt obligated to honor him in death. There was an unprecedented outpouring of grief from all segments of the Jewish community. A funeral procession through the streets of the Lower East Side was planned, with stops at the main Orthodox synagogues, where the chief rabbi was to be memorialized.

It soon became clear that thousands, perhaps even tens of thousands of mourners planned to participate. Recognizing both the probable enormity of the crowd and the legal requirement to procure a permit for such an event, one of the organizers [of the funeral] called upon the local police. After receiving permission for the march, he informed the police official on duty that as many as 20,000 people might participate. He left assured that twenty-five policemen would be in place the next day and that more could be had if requested. [iii]

The morning of July 30, 1902 witnessed a huge funeral procession following the casket of the chief rabbi.

Behind it stretched a line of 200 carriages bearing family members, local officials, wealthy merchants, and dozens of prominent rabbis from around the country. Standing before them on both sides of the street stretched a crowd of 50,000 to 100,000 mourners.

Weeping, wailing, and the chanting of Psalms filled the air as the massive entourage made its way to each of the main Orthodox synagogues. The crowds struggled and occasionally surged as particularly zealous mourners sought to touch the casket, but remarkably no serious incident occurred. Two hours later, after recitation of the final prayers, the last leg of the march to the ferry at the end of Grand Street (the cemetery was in Brooklyn) commenced. Turning east on Grand Street, the procession soon came upon a massive brick factory that housed the famed printing press manufacturing firm of R. H. Hoe and Co.[iv]

There, unbelievably, a full-fledged riot began. The chronology of the events that led to this riot is given below. presented in stages.

Stage One: As the procession began to pass the Hoe factory, some workers who had climbed onto the roof or gone to  upper-story windows to get a better view of the procession, started throwing a variety of items including food, water, oily rags, and pieces of wood and metal at the mourners.

Stage Two: The mourners were outraged at such disrespect for so solemn an occasion. Some of them began throwing the missiles back at those who had tossed them; others burst into the factory in an effort to stop the assault.

Stage Three: The first-floor office workers were unaware of what was transpiring outside. Therefore, when the irate mourners, many of them screaming in Yiddish, burst into the first floor of the factory, they panicked. The police were called. In addition, in an attempt to “protect” themselves from what appeared to be an unruly mob, they turned on the fire hose and doused the “invaders.” Some anti-Semitic remarks were shouted at the mourners, who were quickly expelled from the factory building.

Stage Four: Meanwhile, out in the street, a general melee ensued. The fire hose was aimed indiscriminately at those outside the building, whether they had been in the building or not. The mourners responded by hurling bricks, rocks and other items at the Hoe Building. Most of the building’s windows were shattered. However, this situation did not persist for very long. Indeed, the scene outside the factory began to calm down by the time the head of the funeral procession began boarding the ferry to Brooklyn, located a half mile past the factory.

Stage Five: “A few minutes later, at 1:20 p.m., a squad of 200 policemen, summoned at the outbreak of hostilities by the Hoe employees, arrived on the scene under the leadership of Inspector Adam A. Cross. ‘Without a word of warning or any request to disburse,’ stated the report on the incident commissioned be the mayor, the police ‘rushed upon the remnant of the gathering, some of them with great roughness of language and violence of manner.’”[v]

In the end, hundreds of people were injured, primarily by the clubs and fists of the policemen. Eleven Jews were arrested. Nine were fined between five and ten dollars each and then released. The other two were held for $1,000 bail for inciting a riot. Eventually, four employees of the Hoe Company were also arrested.
The Jewish community of New York was outraged. Charges of anti-Semitism were leveled at the workers of the Hoe Company as well as at police. In addition, the police were accused of treating as criminals people whose only “crime” was that they had peacefully participated in the chief rabbi’s funeral possession.
Protest meetings were organized demanding that Mayor Seth Low, who had been elected a year earlier on a pledge to reform the police department, form an investigative committee to look into this incident.
Such a committee, consisting of notable reformers and including two prominent Jews, was indeed formed. It took testimony from many witnesses and issued a comprehensive report that condemned, in no uncertain terms, the brutal actions of the police. The police commissioner, Colonel Partridge, eventually stepped down. Two officers also resigned, and a number of others were transferred to precincts that did not include the Lower East Side.
             The tragic story of Rabbi Jacob Joseph’s tenure as chief rabbi of New York had concluded with an infamous anti-Semitic incident at his funeral.  It marked the end of the attempt to establish a central rabbinical authority over New York’s Jewish community.

The chief rabbi was survived by his wife, a son, and two daughters.



[i]“New York Chooses a Chief Rabbiby Abraham J. Karp, Publications of the American Jewish Historical Society (1893-1961) Sep 1954-Jun 1955, 44. This article is available at http://www.ajhs.org/reference/adaje.cfm.

 

[ii]Ibid.

 

[iii]  “Hibernians Versus Hebrews? A New Look at the 1902 Jacob Joseph Funeral Riotby Edward T. O’Donnell, Journal Of The Gilded Age And Progressive Era, Volume 6, Number 2, April 2007, page 211.

 

[iv]  Ibid., pages 211-212.

 

[v]  Ibid., page 213.

 

Dr. Yitzchok Levine, a frequent contributor to The Jewish Press, is a professor in the Department of Mathematical Sciences at Stevens Institute of Technology, Hoboken, New Jersey. “Glimpses Into American Jewish History” appears the first week of each month. Dr. Levine can be contacted at  llevine@stevens.edu.

Sderot Man Killed In Kassam Attack

Wednesday, May 30th, 2007

JERUSALEM – Four Kassam rockets were fired at the Western Negev city of Sderot Sunday morning, leaving one man dead. A rocket crashed into his car, and he suffered sharp gashes in his neck. The Israeli civilian crashed into a wall, was rushed to Barzilai Hospital in Ashkelon and died within an hour of his wounds.

Another person was lightly injured, and several people were treated for shock. School children waiting for buses to take them to their first day of classes outside of Kassam range in areas surrounding Sderot panicked upon the sounding of the “Color Red” rocket alert.

Earlier in the morning, another two rockets landed in central Sderot, causing damage but no casualties.

The Kassam victim was Oshri Oz, 36, of Hod HaSharon, an employee of the Sderot-based “Peretz Bonei HaNegev” construction company. He was Israel’s tenth fatal casualty of a Kassam rocket in the past three years – and the second in the past week. Among the dead were three toddlers and a 17-year-old girl.

In response to the ongoing Kassam attacks, the Israel Air Force carried out dozens of air strikes throughout Gaza over the weekend.

The Air Force first struck a Hamas operations center in Gaza City’s Zeitoun neighborhood and a training camp near the area of Shati. Five Hamas terrorists were killed and 23 injured in the strikes, according to PA reports.

Another strike, minutes after those in Gaza City, hit Hamas targets in Rafiah, on the southern tip of Gaza.

Later, a Hamas training camp at the destroyed Jewish town of N’vei Dekalim, a bit further north, was hit by IAF missiles. Another missile hit a Hamas post in the Sheikh Radwan neighborhood of Gaza City in central-northern Gaza.

On Friday, seven air strikes were carried out in Gaza. One missile struck Kassam rocket launchers riding in a vehicle, killing two and injuring six. The explosion caused by the missile was followed by another explosion, caused presumably by explosives in the vehicle.

One missile struck a guard post opposite PA Prime Minister Ismail Haniyeh’s Gaza home, though the IDF

states that Haniyeh was not the target of the attack. The Hamas chief was not home at the time but showed up shortly afterward in a jogging suit, though his guards whisked him away when IAF jets were heard overhead. A senior Hamas terror-chief in charge of Kassam cells died Saturday in a Gaza hospital after being wounded in an air strike last week.

Hamas threatened that if Israeli strikes continued, Israel “could forget about [captive soldier Gilad] Shalit.” Shalit was captured by Hamas terrorists 11 months ago while guarding the Gaza-Israel border. Minister Rafi Eitan said that if a “hair on Shalit’s head is harmed, Haniyeh himself will be hit.” (INN)
 
Mother and sister of Oshri Oz, killed by Kassam rocket fired by Palestinians into Israeli town of Sderot, grieve over the victim’s body during funeral in Petach Tikvah.
Widow Of Kassam Victim Collapses During Funeral

Hundreds of people attended the funeral of Oshri Oz on Monday, the 36-year-old Hod Hasharon resident who was killed in Sunday’s Kassam attack on Sderot.

At the beginning of the funeral, which was held in Petach Tikvah, Oz’s pregnant widow Suzanna collapsed and was treated by paramedics.

When the procession began the widow insisted on walking behind the stretcher carrying her husband’s body, despite pleas that she board an ambulance.

Tourism Minister Yitzhak Aharonovitch of Yisrael Beitenu said during his eulogy that the government is doing all it can to protect Israel’s citizens.

His comments stirred a minor uproar, and some of those on hand shouted back at the minister, “How are you protecting us?” and “What did Oshri do that you did not protect him?”

They were quickly quieted by the other participants and the ceremony continued.

After Oz was buried, his sister lay down by the fresh grave and cried bitterly.

Throughout the funeral, weeping and cries of grief could be heard. After the funeral, family and close friends remained at the grave for some time.

(Ynetnews)

Saying Goodbye To Israel’s Fighting Philosopher

Wednesday, April 25th, 2007

      Sunday, just hours before the people of Israel bowed their heads in memory of the 22,305 Israel Defense Force soldiers who have fallen in the country’s wars, a funeral took place in Kedumim in Samaria.

 

      An outside observer of the scene would have been forgiven had he thought he was witnessing a soldier’s funeral. Most of the mourners were young people, and military uniforms predominated. Soldiers and officers from all the IDF’s elite combat units were in attendance. Most of them were junior officers and conscripts.

 

      But this was not a military funeral. The crowd of hundreds had assembled to pay their last respects to 77-year-old Professor Yosef Ben Shlomo, who died the previous day at his home in Kedumim after a long bout with cancer.

 

      Professor Ben Shlomo was among Israel’s most formidable minds. Considered Gershom Scholem’s greatest student, Ben Shlomo was the world’s leading scholar of the works of Baruch Spinoza and Rabbi Abraham Isaac Kook.

 

      Many at the cemetery commented that both the timing of his passing – on the eve of Memorial Day – as well as the composition of the mourners at the cemetery were emblematic of the state of the State of Israel as it enters its sixtieth year.

 

      This Memorial Day was the first one to take place since last summer’s war between Israel and Hizbullah. From a societal perspective, that war was most notable for the yawning gap it exposed between the strength of the Israeli people and the weakness of Israel’s leadership.

 

      From the outset of the war, the public showed fortitude and willingness to sacrifice for the sake of victory over Israel’s jihadist enemies. From the residents of northern Israel who stoically weathered some 4,000 Hizbullah rockets and missiles shot into their homes and towns, to the IDF reservists and regular forces who unhesitatingly answered the call to arms, to the hundreds of thousands of citizens who volunteered their time, energy and money and opened their homes to their brothers and sisters in the North, the people of Israel last summer showed a stubborn willingness to defend their freedom.

 

      On the other hand, Israel’s political and intellectual leaders collapsed under the weight of the challenge. Rather than call up the reservists and launch a ground campaign in Lebanon to destroy Hizbullah’s installations, the Olmert government tried to win the war on the cheap by bombing from the air. When that strategy failed, rather than take the necessary steps to ensure victory, Prime Minister Olmert and his colleagues opted for defeat by suing for a cease-fire that left Hizbullah intact. For their part, Israel’s media and academic elites refused to “take sides” in the war between Israel and an illegal terrorist organization and Iranian proxy sworn to its annihilation.

 

      Ben Shlomo’s career path both was shaped by and shaped the gulf between the Israeli people and the Israeli elites which came across so starkly last summer. Until the Six-Day War in 1967, Ben Shlomo, like his colleagues and friends, renowned poet Natan Alterman and novelist Moshe Shamir, was an icon of Israel’s socialist intellectual establishment. But after the war, a fissure emerged in that establishment.

 

      In the ensuing years, most of Israel’s elites followed people like Professor Yeshayahu Leibowitz and novelists Amos Oz, S. Yizhar and others, and embraced an ever-escalating leftist radicalism. For their part, Alterman, Shamir and Ben Shlomo remained loyal to their Zionist roots and embraced the vision of settling all the lands Israel took control of in that war.

 

      After Yitzhak Rabin and Shimon Peres embraced Yasir Arafat and the PLO in September 1993, Ben Shlomo argued that the Zionist project was being destroyed and challenged the country to prove him wrong.

 

      His colleagues at Tel Aviv University did everything they could to prove him right. For years, Ben Shlomo served as the head of the university’s Jewish Philosophy Department. His colleagues at the university and in Israeli academia in general not only signed petitions protesting IDF operations and supporting Palestinian terrorism, they exhorted their students not to serve in the IDF reserve forces.

 

      On a personal level, too, they did what they could to make him feel unwanted. Though he was the most popular lecturer at the university, and aggressively recruited by Harvard, Oxford and Cambridge, he was icily regarded by his colleagues. He was denied academic honors. The university consistently assigned him lecture halls too small for the number of students registered for his classes. And eight years ago, when he reached retirement, the university did nothing to convince him to stay on.

 

      But his students were another matter completely. As Ben Shlomo packed up his office, his students offered him a new challenge. Led by Erez Eshel and Ofra Gracier, they began establishing new Zionist academic outlets – pre-military leadership training schools. Over the next five years, half a dozen of these schools were established throughout the country and Ben Shlomo served as their chief pedagogue. He was so excited about the project that he agreed to work for free.

 

      From Metzar in the Golan Heights to Ma’ayan Baruch in the Galilee to Kfar Adumim in Judea, Ben Shlomo gave everything he had to his young students who opted to defer their IDF service for a year to learn Talmud and Jewish history, philosophy and Zionist studies. These students, who now number in the thousands, have gone on to command positions in the IDF’s most elite units. They have also moved on to start new Zionist enterprises of their own.

 

      Ben Shlomo’s teachings were grounded in the Bible. As Gracier eulogized him at his funeral, he viewed the biblical characterization of the Land of Israel as “a land flowing with milk and honey” as a call to action rather than a mere description. Israel has no oil, little water and has always been surrounded by enemies bent on its destruction. It will only flourish when the Jewish people devote themselves to making it bloom. If the Jews lose faith in the land, he warned, it will vomit them out. For this reason, he viewed Jewish settlement as a supreme value.

 

      Gracier noted also that Ben Shlomo saw in Judaism a great gift to humanity. The Jews have given the world the Bible, the Sabbath, the belief in one God, a messianic view of history that gives mankind its mission on Earth, and the notion of nationalism.

 

      Although intrinsic to Ben Shlomo’s worldview was a rejection of the establishment, as a product of his socialist background he was constantly waiting for the establishment to reengage its Zionist and Jewish roots. And as the Oslo peace process led to the Palestinian jihad and a successive string of weak Israeli governments and a continued radicalization of the intellectual establishment, Ben Shlomo was seized in his later years with an ongoing sense of dread. Indeed, few of his university colleagues attended his funeral.

 

      But the fact is that through his devotion to his students, Ben Shlomo did succeed in shaping the future of Israel. One of them, a secular kibbutznik who now serves as a tank commander, noted that because of Ben Shlomo, he realizes that there is no meaning to cultivating the land without the Torah.

 

      Erez Eshel explained his legacy best: “It wasn’t just the fact that we buried the professor on the even of Memorial Day that symbolized his connection to the defense of Israel and Zionism. We buried him during the Omer, where we commemorate Rabbi Akiva who educated Bar Kochba and his soldiers in their rebellion against the Roman onslaught against Israel.

 

      “Like Rabbi Akiva, Ben Shlomo has educated a generation of soldiers who are willing to devote their lives to safeguarding this country and the Jewish people, and it is this legacy, and not the weakness of the establishment, that will win the day.”

 

      Caroline Glick is deputy managing editor of The Jerusalem Post. Her Jewish Press-exclusive column appears the last week of each month.

Death Of A Spouse: Part Four – The Burial

Wednesday, September 20th, 2006

(Names Changed)


 


Because of the nature of chronic illness, the spouse will often be hospitalized or in a nursing home when it is time to depart this world. Due to the close monitoring in these places, the family is often asked to come and be with the dying person when it is assumed the end is near. Therefore, when the death does occur, the family can often bury the loved one quickly (as is appropriate in our tradition) and not have to wait for the children to come from far away. But just because a spouse is chronically ill, it does not mean arrangements have been made. This is especially true if the person was young as can be the case with chronic illness. And so, the family is left to make arrangements quickly, while in great pain from suffering the loss. As a result others often question their choices – choices of cemetery, time, location. etc. – without realizing there was neither presence of mind nor choice in doing what needed to be done.

 

Chananya was a well spouse. His wife became chronically ill a few years after they were married. They were blessed with three children. As the illness worsened, Chananya was so involved with caring for his wife and raising his children he was not able to think ahead and prepare for the worse. After all, his wife was a young woman. Emotionally, preparing for the loss of his young wife was something he could not get himself to do. And so, when his wife died he had no plot for her. Because she died early Friday, Chananya wanted to have the funeral Friday midday.

 

As Chanaya scrambled to make arrangements he discovered there were no plots available near his home. The only plot he could purchase on such short notice was a 90-minute drive away. And so that was where the funeral was. Meanwhile, not understanding the circumstances, many of Channaya’s friends were upset that he had chosen such a far place. Being Friday, and needing to prepare for Shabbos and get home before candle lighting, many people chose not to attend the funeral. The community was very upset at Chanaya’s choice, not realizing he never had one.

 

Sadie and Morrism, an older couple, had chosen early on to make arrangements for their end. But as Morris’s illness worsened and it became harder for Sadie to manage, her children insisted that they move closer to them. Shortly after the move, and before alternate arrangements could be made, Morris passed on. The arrangements they had previously made were for hundreds of miles from where they had moved to be closer to their children. It didn’t make any sense to use those arrangements. Morris had died on a Friday morning, as well.

 

The hospital, knowing the end was near, had called the family in days before. So there was no reason to delay the funeral. But, arrangements had to be made. The in-laws offered to help and made arrangements quickly, so the funeral took place appropriately and promptly. Friends and colleagues from where Morris had previously lived understood that they could not be at the funeral, but many were determined to go to the grave when they passed through the city.

 

Only later did the family and the in-laws discover that the cemetery in which Morris was buried did not allow English inscriptions on the gravestone. Even numbers for age and date of death had to be in Hebrew letters. It was obvious that some of the people wanting to visit the grave would have a hard time locating it. Many people voiced their upset to Sadie, asking her how she had chosen that place. This not only upset Sadie, but made the in-laws feel awful, as well.

 

It is very important but also enormously difficult to prepare for the inevitable. With chronic illness, it is even more necessary to do it early on. That is the only way you can make sure that everything is as you wish and less stress is placed on the family. However, if that is not possible for any reason, it is important for friends and family to realize that last minute choices are limited and should trust that the family acted appropriately within the bounds of the choices they had. Comments that question the choices made are inappropriate and only cause the family coping with the enormous grief they have to question themselves and make them feel worse.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/death-of-a-spouse-part-four-the-burial/2006/09/20/

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