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June 30, 2016 / 24 Sivan, 5776

Posts Tagged ‘LOVE’

Tefillah: A Meeting With Hashem – The Day Of Love

Thursday, June 9th, 2016

Before you begin to wonder what “the day of love” is, I will let the cat out of the bag: I am referring to Shavuos. “Really!” you are probably thinking. “I know it is the day we receive the Torah, a day when many stay up all night learning, a day of celebrating with cheesecake . . . but a day of love?”

But that is the truth. We begin every Shemoneh Esrei of Yom Tov with the joyous declaration: “Atah vichartanu mi’kol ha’amim – You have chosen us from all the nations. Ahavta osanu – You loved us, v’ratzisa banu – You desired us.” The Siach Yitzchok (in Siddur Hagra) explains that these words refer to the three festivals. You chose us on Pesach, You showed us Your love on Shavuos by giving us the Torah, and You desired us on Sukkos, by returning the clouds of glory after the sin of the golden calf.

How does receiving the Torah show us Hashem’s love to us?

 

Ahava Rabbah!

The bracha that we recite right before krias shema of Shachris is also known as “the bracha of Torah,” as in this blessing we ask Hashem to teach us His Torah. The introduction to this prayer is “Ahava rabbah ahavtanu, chemla gedolah v’yiseirah chamaltah aleinu – With an abundant love You have loved us, with exceedingly great pity have You pitied us.” Such a declaration is unparalleled in our daily prayers. And in the evening prayer we say that it is an eternal love – Ahavas olam. The fact that Hashem gave us His Torah shows us that He does not merely love us – it is an eternal and overwhelming love!

Then we continue with the most heartfelt plea in the entire seder hatefillah: “Our Father, the merciful Father Who acts mercifully, have mercy upon us, instill in our hearts to understand and elucidate, to listen, learn, teach, safeguard, perform and fulfill all the words of Your Torah’s teaching with love!” And finally, it concludes “…who chooses Klal Yisroel with love.”

Were it not for the great and infinite love that Hashem has for us, we would not have received the Torah, nor would we dare ask for the gift of Torah on a regular basis. Let us explain.

 

Tree of Life

Rav Chaim Volozhiner (Nefesh Hachaim, Sha’ar 4, chapter 33) explains the pasukEitz chaim he la’machazikim bah – The Torah is a tree of life for those who grasp onto it” with a parable of a man drowning in a raging river. As he is about to go under, he notices a large tree floating by and grabs on for dear life. He knows if he will let go for just one second, he will die. So too, we have been thrown into the vast waters of “Olam Hazeh – this world.” The only way to stay alive is to grab hold of the tree of life – the Torah. If we let go and run after the empty pleasures of the world, even just for a short time, we will have immediately separated ourselves from the source of life. We will be in danger of drowning in the materialism of this mundane world and dying a spiritual death. Only when we learn Torah are we considered to be alive. And the Nefesh Hachaim explains (see chapter 10) that this is because when we learn Torah we attach ourselves – figuratively – to Hashem Yisborach, the true source of life.

How does learning Torah attach us?

The midrash (Shemos Rabah Parsha 33) states: “When a person buys an object, he doesn’t buy the seller with it. However, when Hashem gave us the Torah, He told us that kaviyachol we are taking Him along with it.” In many places the Zohar notes that Torah and Hashem are one.

Rabbi Eliezer M. Niehaus

Egypt is Colorful and Full of Love; Meetings of Conciliation between Muslim and Jew, in Egypt: Part II

Sunday, April 24th, 2016

Dr Omer Salem of Yale and AlAzhar Universities envisions a borderless world open to movement and communication between all peoples. A traditionalist Sunni Muslim, he studied Hebrew Bible at Yale and had his PhD dissertation supervised by Al-Azhar University Professors in Cairo. His thesis – acceptance of the People of the Book in Islam, a theme that is pulling in the opposite direction of the less embracing schools of thought in Islam today, schools which have been propped up of late more by politics than religious doctrine.

In this spirit, Salem invited Rabbi Dr. Yaakov Nagen, Fullbright Scholar Dr. Jospeh Ringel, and myself to meet his colleagues in Egypt. Impossible! My smart aleck retort was, “sure I will catch the next train.” But within two weeks we were on Egyptian soil and in earnest dialogue with some of the best minds of Cairo today. Here is a small glimpse of what we dream will be many more encounters.

Al Azhar University was founded by the Fatimids in the tenth century CE and is the oldest university in the world still functioning. Today it is considered the center of Islamic and Arabic scholarship. The university administers about 4000 teaching institutes and a system of schools with about two million students nation-wide.

Enter the campus, humanity’s stunning variety greets you in the beauty of all its rainbow colors – Indonesians, Africans, black, white, some in western dress, some in traditional garb. This richness accompanied us to professor Awad’s office – an enormous room which over the next two and a half hours would host our marathon discussion, with students and faculty entering and exiting, some participating, some just listening. The atmosphere was respectful and congenial throughout, albeit the discussion veering into some very sensitive subjects.

Before our arrival, we debated an essential question – how can the Muslim ummah – nation – accept Jews? Assuming that the hurdles were largely theological, we discussed the approach that Jews can take to Muhammad; a Navi, prophet, has vastly different connotations in Jewish thought than in Islamic thought. Rabbi Joseph Ber Soloveitchik’s essay, “Confrontation” presents an illustration of how essential terms cannot be imported and exported across cultures, indeed, meaning is lost in translation. In Judaism, a Navi can be false and even wicked, as in the case of Bilaam (Book of Numbers). So when Muslims ask Jews, “Do you think Muhammad was a prophet?” the connotations differ vastly. What we can say is that prophecy for the nation of Israel ended with the prophet Malachi, but that does not mean that prophecy stopped for all nations. In the spirit of the Rambam, who dwelled in Egypt as physician and Rabbi, we can appreciate that Muhammad spread monotheism globally, and that he could indeed be a prophet for the other nations of the world.

We would see however that the theological hurdle is in fact not the greatest stumbling block to reconciliation.

“Welcome, welcome!” Dr Awad beckoned, along with staff and students flanking him. The men were removing their shoes, should I? Do women remove their shoes as well? They do, but I can remain shod if I choose. Both equality of women and free choice are basic premises in Islam, the professor would make quite clear. But that is not my emphasis just yet, I have something more important for you to hear.

Professor Awad’s thesis was on the Hebrew Bible and New Testament. He emphasized that dialogue is a primary tenet of Islam. “The Qur’an commands us as Muslims to engage in dialogue to reach truth.” He stated.

“The differences between people are G-d given.” And he quoted, “O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other. .” Qur’an 49:13. (Arabic: لتعارفوا) Lita’arafu – to know each other. You can respect Islam and the prophet and the Qur’an, without necessarily following the sharia of Islam, and that is your right.”

He added, “There is no coercion in religion,” Qur’an 2:256

“Muslims are commanded to study the teachings of the prophet Moses. For you, learning about Muhammad is merely optional. That is an expression of tolerance inherent in Islam. The Qur’an has provided solutions for so many problems in the world, and it commanded Jews to judge according to their own Torah. This is evidence that the Qur’an is a very neutral, objective book. Jews have a right to study the Qur’an without anyone judging whether they believe in it or not. You are indeed welcome to read it with your good intention.”

Jewish Press contributor, Rebecca Abrahamson in front of Al Azhar University

Jewish Press contributor, Rebecca Abrahamson in front of Al Azhar University

I introduced myself as a Haredi woman, and added that I had traveled with the agreement of my husband and the blessing of my Rabbi. There I had braved it all the way to Egypt, overcoming personal and societal hurdles. I made that statement in order to express a living traditional value and to pave the way for more fundamentalist Muslim and Jewish women to join in social activism. When fundamentalist women act, they move large areas, they bring whole families and societies with them. And we know that we are not docile followers. I love the story from an African-American fundamentalist church in the southern United States, a woman stood up and challenged her preacher, “that’s not written in my Bible!” Fundamentalist women are in dynamic dialogue with their family and leaders. When we act, we actually move large areas of ground.

But I liked the professor’s response:

He looked at me a little sharply, “Women and men are equal. The only difference is she has a right to be provided for.” Then he ticked off her rights on his fingers, “she has freedom of work, dignity, employment, she may divorce, and she does not need her husband’s permission to travel.” I smiled inside.

Then the professor touched upon difficult subjects, and though his tone remained respectful, his passion and concern was evident. Something was irking him, it was clear.

Discovering a Stumbling Block

He wondered at the verse in the Torah that declares Canaan as cursed – where is the justice in that? All have free will, how can anyone be cursed from birth? “Certainly you are accountable for what you do.” (Qur’an 16:93) He wondered why Jews do not proselytize to other nations, is that an uncaring approach? And, with equal passion, Dr Awad questioned how the revelation at Sinai could have been in Hebrew – the Jews had just exited Egypt? This final question was expressed with as much concern as the previous two, though I felt that whatever language was spoken at the time of the Revelation at Sinai was surely less important that wondering if Judaism is discriminatory.

Rabbi Nagen responded – “you have raised the most important questions. My whole life I am searching for answers to these questions. We know that holy books sometimes have verses that seem troubling. For me, the verse that is most important is that all of humanity has one father and is in the image of God. Anything that seems to contradict this puzzles me and we struggle with it. We know that with both Torah, Gospel and Qur’an, people can quote verses to do great good or not good. Our task is to find a way to teach good from the Torah and Qur’an. The question is – what is the rule and what is the exception? What is the context? I read the Qur’an and I know that every sura begins with All-h is Rachman. If I find a verse that seems violent, I know this must be talking about a particular context and it’s not the rule. I have hundreds of students; I interpret the Torah and Talmud. I organized a prayer rally to protest the alleged arson attack in Kfar Dumas. I am part of a group of a thousand Rabbis, we put out a thirty page pamphlet that was read in synagogues that week.”

The professor could not be placated, there was something nagging at him. And then it came out:

“We as Muslims are not asked to judge others; however we cannot accept oppression by one people over another people or making mockery of one over the other.”

So that was it. Agree or disagree, this was the professor’s central concern, and it was echoed in our meetings with Dr Aly El-Samman, former advisor to Anwar Sadat, and with Professor Wagee AlShamy of Dar Oloom College in AlFayoum, a city south of Cairo.

Indeed, Dr Wagee Al-Shamy asked us to proclaim this message – “tell your people: the state of the Palestinian Arabs is of great concern to us. That is the real stumbling block to normalization. Please ease their plight; that will pave the road to better relations between our peoples.”

Agree or disagree, that was the message we heard throughout our trip. So it is not scripture or theology that divides. Negative light is shed upon Judaism when Israel is seen as oppressing its Arab residents. Looking for the cause of the injustice, our scriptures are held up as possibly blameworthy.

But is this not how we feel when presented with injustices wrought by other cultures? Do we not point to the source of an ‘Other’s’ impropriety as based in their basic tenets? As much as what I am saying may sting, and we can certainly feel the call to defend Israel’s need for self defense, or the real meaning of holy writ, we need to consider – if this is what prominent Egyptian Muslims are saying, and even asking us to proclaim this, it does mean that the situation is a lot more hopeful than if stumbling blocks to normalization were scripture and theology.

So what are we to do? Embark on a grand-scale hasbara (explanation) campaign? There are better places we can put our energy; injustices are best addressed, in my husband Ben Abrahamson’s words – by establishing joint Jewish-Islamic religious courts. They existed in Yemen, and they can exist now. This gives both Muslim and Jew a feeling of a common language. Once injustices are addressed in a framework that both sides revere, the view changes. The diamond tossed up to the light reflects various hues, constantly changing as it turns before the sun, yet the diamond remains the same. We do not have to change our very being; we just need to address concerns where all parties are heard in the language they revere the most.

“Show me the fatwa.”

Ben was once speaking to a sheikh who was criticizing Israel. Ben said simply, “show me the fatwa.” Instead of relying on media reporting, Ben challenged the sheikh to find an Islamic court which has investigated an allegation of injustice and issued a fatwa – ruling. Knowing of none, they both relaxed and fruitful discussion followed.

The best hasbara campaign to defend Israel and Judaism will never really be enough; there is not the trust and common language needed for such efforts. The gap can be bridged not via hasbara, which is likely to fall upon deaf ears, but via joint courts. Joint Jewish-Islamic courts will succeed in striving for justice, trust building, and an expanded narrative that finally will include all residents of the Holy Land. It will be a huge relief to us all.

We had been welcomed by the professors at AlAzhar in warmth and parted with love and hopes of future dialogue. Yes, things can get rocky in discussion, but if you believe that the Other is coming from an honest place, then only the late hour and weariness born from a marathon conversation brings it to a close.

And we will work for more such encounters. We must.

(Left) Rabbi Yaakov Nagen with Dr Joseph Ringel,

(Left) Rabbi Yaakov Nagen with Dr Joseph
Ringel,

Rebecca Abrahamson

A Soldier’s Mother: I Promise I’ll Still Love You

Tuesday, April 19th, 2016
The great thing about the Passover holiday is that you get to clean everything, find everything. It’s a journey of discovery…at a time when you really have no time or patience for it…and yet…there you go. Years ago, faced with the fact that my oldest son was going to be coming home very close to the start of the holiday (and I was just grateful he would be home to share it with us), I realized that I had to go clean his room. And so began an adventure for me and Elie’s 8 year old sister (Bullets, Buttons, and Batteries).
David went into the army 5 months ago, which was probably the last time I cleaned his room. Since then, I’ve asked, suggested, whatever, but mostly left him to his own unless someone was coming over to sleep (and then I go with a quick straighten and mop but ignore the cabinets and under things). Like his oldest brother, he is comfortable in the chaos of his own making and so his room suffers tremendously when he comes home, only eased a bit by having guests stay over. For the last two weekends, I’ve reminded him…for the last two weekends, he’s told me he’s “working on it” which is, as any mother can tell you, another way of saying…”it ain’t getting done” or “it’s a work in progress” that will, if left to him, always be in progress.
Days left, I have no choice but to enter the lion’s den. I’m prepared this time, having cleaned his room many times in the past. I have large garbage bags for all the wrappers; I have another for the laundry I knew I would find. I took old plastic contains, as I did years ago with Elie, to begin organizing…batteries, and pieces of phones, coins, and the like. The books go back on the shelf, the clean clothes back in the closet. The extra sheets left from the last time we used the room for guests goes into the laundry. A bullet…yes, there’s a stray bullet on his floor. And a remote control car…and a gun that looks too real, but isn’t, and a broken water gun, long since abandoned.
Dishes…and I knew I was missing some forks…and a certificate for the course he finished long ago for the Magen David Adom first aid training. There are pieces to the new shaver we bought him last year and the blanket that I knitted last winter…I was wondering where that went.
And socks…more laundry if I can only find the second one…but there’s still time and what to clean. Another dish…another spoon. How many times have I told him not to take food upstairs. And some candy bars that his older brother and younger sister quickly grabbed…he’ll come home too close to the Passover holiday to be able to eat them anyway.
And as I clean the room and think of how many times I asked him to clean it, and how he’ll apologize and really be sorry that he didn’t…and how I’ll tease him about the missing fork and those dishes, I thought of a child’s book I have. The child asked the parent in many ways, “will you still love me if” and each time the parent says, “I’ll love you even if you…”
I’ll love you even if I can’t find the matching pair to your NEW and expensive New Balance sneaker.
I’ll love you despite finding four plates, 7 utensils and two cups upstairs.
I’ll love you despite finding finding that you brought home those great plastic boxes that I use to send home-baked goodies with you to the army…and two of them were crushed.
I’ll love you even though I had to pick up all those wrappers and try matching up all those socks.
And my Davidi, I promise I’ll still love you – even if the rest of the room is as bad as the first half was…
Paula Stern

Australian Rabbi: Love Muslims and Everything Will Be OK

Sunday, August 24th, 2014

Christian and Jewish religious leaders in Australia have launched a “We’ll love Muslims 100 years” campaign to express love and support for the country’s Muslim population, the JTA reported.

“We have Muslims who are made to feel like terrorists in the past few years and they report the atmosphere is similar to post-9/11 and it is simply as a result of cultural incompetence,” explained Rabbi Zalman Kastel, of the Together for Humanity Foundation.

He and pastor Brad Chilcott, national director of Welcome to Australia, a non-profit that focuses on issues relating to immigration and asylum, are heading the campaign that is supposed to make Islamic jihadists love Christians and Jews.

The name of the campaign – loving Muslims for 100 years – is a riff on a recent headline, published in the Weekend Australian, that stated, “We’ll fight Muslims 100 years,” according to a report in The Guardian.

It is clear why they will love Muslims for only 100 years and not any longer because if “love” is the solution to Muslim terror, there won’t be any Christians and Jews left in the world in the year 2114.

The year is 2024 is more likely, but let’s not quibble about the extra zero added on to 10 years.

Any assumption that Rabi Kastel is another Reform “rabbi” smoking The New York Times is dead wrong.

Believe it or not, he is a strictly Orthodox rabbi born and raised in Brooklyn.

He and his non-Jewish pals plan three major love events in Australia to rally Australian Muslims around the banner of love.

The Together for Humanity Foundation has been around for 12 years, in which time its love has paralleled the spread of fanatical Islam to the point that many Muslim countries as well as almost the entire non-Muslim world, except Israel, is scared to death, literally.

The Humanity Foundation was launched less than year after 9/11 and 12 years before the Islamic State ISIS has declared war on the United States, although President Barack Obama dismisses the declaration while ISIS beheads one American journalist, prepares another one for death and claims it has cells in the United States ready to strike fear into the hearts of heathen Christians and Jews who do not accept Islam. It does not mean middle class Islam but the real stuff that also expresses love – love for hate and love for death.

The catalyst for the “We’ll Love Muslims for 100 Years’ campaign was a recent headline the Weekend Australian, “We’ll fight Islam 100 years.”

It is forbidden to express the words “fight” in the world of Woodstock, unless one is fighting for “love” of everything, including hate. Or as John Lennon sang, “Imagine.” That is far as Rabbi Kastel’s reality goes – imagination.

But he insists he is not living in Woodstock.

It would be interesting to know what Talmudic discussion he uses for his outlook. But so far he is using his foundation’s Muslim president, Christian chairman and an atheist patron to back him.

The good rabbi, may God grant him a speedy spiritual recovery, is bothered by the “harsh talk” against Muslims in mainstream and social media.

“I was concerned about shrill, harsh talk we see both in social and mainstream, even though there is a lot of good interfaith work going on in Australia every day,” he said, quoted by the London Guardian.

“As a result, we have Muslims who are made to feel like terrorists in the past few years and they report the atmosphere is similar to post-9/11 and it is simply as a result of cultural incompetence.

“We are all on the same team, if I may use that word, in terms of the result, and that is peace.”

Tzvi Ben-Gedalyahu

For Better or for Worse

Wednesday, September 18th, 2013

It’s time to move out of our homes and into our holy humble sukkahs. Now is the time when we renew our relationship with God, who has chosen us to form an inseparable eternal union – a marriage between the children of Yisrael and the Master of the Universe.

The Torah portion of Nitzavim, which is read just before the New Year, reveals to us that Hashem is our personal “husband,” for better or for worse. Rashi explains (Devarim 29:12) that we were presented with a covenant and a curse: “Since we are forever bound together, let Me teach you how to make Me happy.”

Nitzavim goes on to prophesize everything that has transpired during these thousands of years. This is highlighted by non-Jews gasping and stating, “Why has God caused this land to become desolate? Because they have forsaken God’s covenant.” Thus, on Rosh Hashanah we think of our past year’s sins. The sound of the shofar awakens our emotions. Then ten days of introspection and repentance bring on the great and awesome day of Kippur, of Atonement.

Consider: our God is perfect, and we are anything but. We may have been envious or lustful, or worshipped money, status or a host of other vices. Now we humbly return home to our Love. If we repent out of fear, our sins are forgiven. But if we repent because we truly love our Maker, he gives us an amazing reward – our sins become mitzvahs!

Hashem simply goes beyond the letter of the law in His love for us.

The Holy Ben Ish Chai points out that if you go beyond the four letters of the Hebrew word hadin (the judgment), you get to the Hebrew word sukkah. (The four Hebrew letters that come after the letters in hadin are the letters in the word sukkah). The sukkah is where we arrive after Yom Kippur, free of sins, under the wings of God’s Holy Presence.

Note that the first time sukkah is mentioned in the Torah, it is referring to the stalls our forefather Yaakov built for his animals. Why? Because when Yaakov arrived in Shechem with his family, he built a beis medrash for himself for Torah learning, but for his animals, his “wealth,” he built simple huts.

Yaakov took his children to the window and said, “Look at how I treat my wealth, dear children. Wealth is temporary; like the sukkah, it doesn’t go with you to the next world. But here in this house of Torah, we accumulate the mitzvahs that stay with us – which are eternal.”

We have now received our “new heads” for the coming year, as implied by the words Rosh Hashanah, head for the year, and Yom Hazikaron, a day of resetting our memory apparatus. We are cleansed of our sins on Yom Kippur, after which we enter, with our entire body, into our sukkah. We enter this mitzvah where we achieve oneness with our Lover – Hashem, Blessed be He.

What is it about the Nation of Israel that attracts the love of the One God Who rules the universe?

I came upon an answer on Rosh Chodesh Elul as I prayed the silent benedictions. We bless the day in the following way: “Mikadesh Yisrael v’roshei chodoshim – He sanctifies Israel and the first day of all months.” But it can literally mean “He sanctifies Yisrael and “brand new heads.”

Our nation is forever ready to admit our mistakes and begin all over. With the coming of each new moon, we are aware that we may start afresh.

This is also evident in our morning declaration of Modeh Ani, the origin of which is in the book of Eichah (3:23) which states, “Hashems kindness is new every morning – great is Your belief [in us, to improve in the coming day]. One of the reasons Hashem loves His people is that they are always willing to start over.

Two small examples that are actually big were related to me by Rabbi Mordechai Goldstein, shlita, head of the Diaspora Yeshiva on Mount Zion in Jerusalem, where I am currently studying.

The first: A man survived hell in a concentration camp only to discover that his entire family had perished – parents, siblings, wife and children. Everyone.

Dov Shurin

Trading In Maryland for the Mediterranean

Monday, August 19th, 2013

When Sergeant Brandon Berry made aliyah (immigrated to Israel), he did not come looking for the easy life. If he wanted that, he would not have left his hometown of Potomac, Maryland to serve in the army of a foreign country half a world away from his family.

Sgt. Berry also was not looking for an easy job in the IDF – he wanted to serve wherever he was most needed. He wanted to take his talent and drive with him to contribute one hundred percent.

Sgt. Berry passed all the tests to serve in the prestigious Paratroopers Brigade. Instead the American immigrant took to the sea as a member of the Israel Navy’s Dvora-class patrol boat squadron.

It is not everyday that a young man from Potomac, Maryland travels for tens of thousands of miles to join the Israel Navy. “It was clear to me that I was destined to serve in the Navy,” he said. Sgt. Berry, stationed on a base overlooking the Mediterranean Sea, is able to indulge his love for wide-open spaces every day of his service.

Aside from his thick American accent, Sgt. Berry is indistinguishable from the other soldiers at his base – completely at home on a boat with a tan to match. He credits the Association for the Wellbeing of Israel’s Soldiers for helping him through the entire enlistment process.

“The work the association does is a blessing,” he says. AWIS helps soldiers in a number of ways, which included providing assistance to lone soldiers, running soldier homes and recreation centers, and providing support for bereaved families.

Sgt. Berry says that even though he grew up with a strong Jewish identity and attended a Jewish day school, he always felt like something was missing. Now, as a soldier for Israel, it seems he has truly come home.

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IDF Spokesperson's Office

A Woman of Courage and Strength

Sunday, August 18th, 2013

When I was little, my parents didn’t have much money so family vacations were non-existent. But somehow, for years if I remember correctly, my uncle and aunt invited me to spend a week at their house. These are the memories of a child – perhaps it was only a few days. For all I know, it could have been only one night – but the memory I carry with me was that I spent days and days with my Uncle Woodie and my Aunt Pia.

Pia was an accomplished artist – she filled her house with color and brightness. She was a wonderful mother…housewife…teacher. She was always dressed so beautifully, so elegantly. I have so many memories of her as I was growing up.

Seven years ago, Pia was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer and told she had months, maybe even just weeks, to live. She redefined courage as she fought back the disease time and time again.

When a doctor told her there was no hope… she decided not to listen. She went experimental treatments, was declared cancer free and continued to fight even after the disease re-appeared. She became a symbol for many as she launched campaigns to raise money and awareness for a disease that leaves devastation and shock in its wake.

Through it all, she continued to smile, continued to cherish her family. I saw her a bit over a year ago when she came to Israel to celebrate the bar mitzvah of her oldest grandson. There was such pride in her as she stood on Masada and watched her daughter’s family gather around.

We all knew the disease was still there and we knew she would continue to fight it for as long as she could. She never gave up; she never gave in.

She lost her battle with cancer on Friday (Shabbat in Israel).

There are many heroes in the world – perhaps the greatest are those who simply struggle to live their lives with dignity, respect, and love.

I always knew Pia was a woman of grace, beauty, talent and love. I have learned over the last few years, that she was also a woman of incredible courage and strength. May God bless her memory.

Visit A Soldier’s Mother.

Paula Stern

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