Jerusalem, September 8, 2013 – 4 Tishrei 5774 B”H
“It is very rare these days that people know how to love; and to love is to give. How many people really know how to give of themselves? Those who do – like you, dear Shlomo— are surely beloved of Hashem!”
Shlomo Zakheim, z”l, was our friend, our confidant, our mentor and our role model. He came to us late in the throes of our personal ordeal, fighting for freedom for my husband, Jonathan Pollard, but quickly became an integral and important part of our life.
Shlomo and Jonathan clicked when they first met. They immediately became close friends as if they had known each other all their lives.
Shlomo was not the kind of person who bowled you over. He did not dazzle or try to impress. That was not his style. What was so wonderful about Shlomo was how naturally he shone without even trying to. He was unassuming and unprepossessing. He had no airs. He was quiet, he was modest, and he was self-effacing. He was the kind of person who quietly crept into your heart and won it without contest. He was his happiest and at his best when he was doing for others.
Shlomo was bright and savvy and successful in business, had a beautiful and talented wife, wonderful family and terrific children and grand-children. He could rightly have been a little vain and proud because of all that he had and all he had accomplished. But Shlomo prided himself on nothing and gave all the credit to Hashem. His constant motto was: “G-d has been good to me. I want to share His goodness with others.”
Shlomo reached out to the Fogel family of Itamar, after the brutal murder of 5 members of their family by Arab terrorists, to bring them to the US to meet Jonathan. I arranged the prison visit and travelled to the US to participate. We all met in New York and over-nighted at the Zakheim residence. (Faygie, Shlomo’s aishet chayil, happened to be out of town). The next day, Shlomo flew us all to Butner for the visit with Jonathan.
Below is the letter I wrote to Shlomo, at Jonathan’s urging, after that visit. We share the letter now – we are sure Shlomo would not mind – because it speaks volumes about him. His response, which follows, says even more about him.
This note is from heart to heart. Jonathan encouraged me to write to you.
Shlomo, while it is rare to find someone as generous as you; and rare to find some one so eager and willing to do chessed the way you do; and rare to find someone who jumps into a mitzvah with both feet and never looks back, the way you do; and while you are as expansively generous with your time as you are with your money, that is not what impressed us the most.
Let us share with you what did!
I described for Jonathan what it was like to wake up as a guest in your home. You had been up all night doing your paramedic rounds. You came home and should have been exhausted, but you never showed it. Smiling and in a cheerful mood, you proceeded to invite your 4 house guests to assemble in the kitchen for breakfast. It would have been exceedingly kind and most generous and certainly enough if you had just put the basics on the table (bread, cheese, cereal, jam) and said: help yourself. But you did not see it that way. Indeed that is not your way at all.
You insisted on catering to each guest, to each one’s wishes and tastes, and to each ones desires, one by one! You probed and prodded and encouraged until each person told you what he/she liked best for breakfast. Then you threw your whole being and whole body into doing the mitzvah, bustling around the kitchen, setting the table, putting out cold items, frying eggs, making coffee, taking requests, making toast, without any thought for yourself or your own breakfast.
And the really amazing thing, the thing that impressed us the most, was that as you were doing all of this menial work, running to and fro, cooking and serving and attending to your guests, you were so joyful that you hummed a happy tune as you bustled about! It was clear that you were fully immersed in the mitzvah of “hachnassat orchim” not only with your whole body, but with your whole being, and you were loving it! With your whole heart you were doing and giving, preparing, serving, sharing, enjoying! You fairly glowed as you hummed and sang and went about doing HaShem’s business!