Showing posts with label Mourning. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Mourning. Show all posts

May 8, 2019

Yom Hazikaron (Memorial Day) @JCC Rockville

Memorial for the 23,741 fallen soldiers and 3,150 victims of terror. 

Brave, strong, and dedicated to the survival of Israel. 

May their memory be a blessing!

Also a beautiful video my daughter, Minna sent to me. 

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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September 16, 2018

Terrorist Murders Ari Fuld in Israel

I am completely shocked and saddened by the murder of an American citizen, Ari Fuld, by a radical Islamist terrorist in the Holy Land of Israel. 

Ari is the father of four and the brother of my friend and classmate Moshe Fuld.

He is also the son of Rabbi Yonah Fuld, the former Vice Principal of Hebrew Studies at SAR Academy in Riverdale, New York. 

Ari had served in the IDF and was an outspoken defender of Israel's right to exist and for a Jewish homeland in the Promised Land of Israel. 

Even after he was stabbed from behind by the cowardly terrorist, Ari managed to chase and shoot the terrorist. 

Ari is a true hero!

He died of his wounds just a few days before Yom Kippur, and he will be remembered for his deep love of the land of Israel and the Jewish people. 

I am honored to know the Fuld family and call them my friends. 

I wish them my deepest condolences on this tragic loss. 

Baruch Dayan Ha'Emet!

May Hashem protect Israel, it's defenders, and the Jewish people and let us live finally in peace and security. 
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January 6, 2018

Two Lightning Strikes

One week apart, two freak accidents, both families nearly wiped out. 

Both touched me. 

Exactly one week ago, I learned and wished condolences to the man in synagogue who lost his wife, youngest son, and mother-in-law in the Mexico tourist bus accident. 

Today--7 days later, a neighbor comes up to me and tells me she's going to the funeral for her daughter, son-in-law and three children killed in the Costa Rica plane crash this week, and I wished her that G-d have mercy. 

Like two lightning strikes--not a coincidence (I don't believe in that).

I believe more that it is a warning, and it is really frightening.

I pray that G-d should have mercy on all of us. 
Please G-d, Save Us. 
Please G-d, Save Us. 
Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 
Please G-d, Help Us To Succeed. 
Life truly hangs by a thin thread.

The time period between my meeting the man and women from these two families--7 days--represents both life and death--it is both the number of days of "Sheva Brachot" (days of celebration for a bride and groom) and the number of says of "Shiva: (mourning when someone dies)

We need to be committed to doing good in this world and in His name.

-- Repentance, charity, and prayer.

All of us must do our best to serve G-d and always do right with integrity.

G-d should defeat evil, and He should have mercy on his faithful children, so that He turns mourning into celebration and blessings. ;-)

(Source Photo: here with attribution to kristendawn, and interesting that it is from Costa Rica)
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October 27, 2017

Longevity...85 Is The New 65

So I was speaking to one of our very nice elderly neighbors.

Last week he lost his dear wife of 60 years!

I had visited him during Shiva (the Jewish period of mourning) to wish him our best and let him know we are there if there is anything he needs. 

He told me how the night before she passed, they had gone out to eat and to the theatre (she loved the theatre)...and everything was fine!

And then the next day, he went to work--he still teaches medicine at the local hospital 2 days a month.

At midday, he called his wife and asked how she was and if she needed anything from the store (to eat etc.)

She told him she was fine and she didn't need anything. 

But by the time he got home just one hour later...she had fallen, hit her head, and died. 

He tried to do CPR by it was no use, she was gone. 

Both he and his wife were 84-years old. 

He mentioned that would tease her that he was 3 months older than her, and so she had to listen to him!

I felt so bad for him...it was obvious how much he loved her and missed her already. 

When he told me how old she was, I tried to say reassuringly:
"That's a good old age...at least she lived a full life!"

But then he answered:
"84--that's nothing! 85 is the new 65!!!"  
And went on to tell me how many of their friends are already in the 90's. 

It's funny how no matter what age you are...there is always a will to live!

He said how she had passed quickly and so maybe he could consider that a blessing. 

And we talked about how it truly is especially when some other people really suffer prolonged periods with terrible debilitating and painful illnesses. 

It was also strange that around the same time, I ran into yet another elderly neighbor, and he had tears in his eyes...and I asked how he is. 

He told me how he just learned 3 weeks ago that his wife has lung cancer. 

Seeing his expression how bad things were, I inquired what stage it was at. 

He said, "stage 3 cancer," and I told him as well how sorry I was for his pain. 

All this made me realize again, how very tenuous life is...and we all hang by a thread that G-d decides at any moment when to shear and when to cut--we need to live every moment to the fullest and as if it's our last. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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October 10, 2016

Visiting My Parents

We went to visit my parent's graves yesterday. 

Now, between the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is customary to visit and remember our blessed loved ones. 

We went to spend time with them, tell them how much we miss and love them, and how hard it is without them. 

I was so moved by how beautiful my daughters spoke out loud to my parents in heaven--their words and tears were so full of sincerity for how they miss and love their dear Oma and Opa. 

They could articulate what was so hard for me to say, but which weighs so heavy always on my heart. 

We sat on the ground at the base of their headstone feeling their presence and hearing their words in memory and through my wife who has a special ability to somehow reach them.

My wife told me how she could see my mother literally dancing in heaven, and my dad always worrying about us and looking out for and telling us to be more religious...always, more religious. 

I wiped the dust off that had settled on the stone over the last months, and wished that I could somehow magically, with whatever spiritual energy I could muster, raise them up and bring them back to us.

The thought of years or decades of going on and not being able to see and speak with them again, in person, is forever impossible for me to imagine. 

The loss of my parents over the last few years has left an emptiness in my heart and keeps me asking myself, will I really be able to see them and be reunited with them again some day in heaven. 

My daughter reassured me that energy, including our personal energy, never disappears, it only transforms, and my wife said that she could feel that they were okay and happy!

I recounted the joke my dad used to tell about not wanting to be buried at the edge of the cemetery, because that's where the water runs down, and he didn't want to get rheumatism. 

I know how much they loved us and I could feel it sitting at their graves with the warmth of the sun over us and the cool breeze blowing against us. 

I will live out my days, trying my best to emulate in my own way my father, who was a servant to the L-rd in all that he did, and who taught us strict right from wrong, and as my mother who took care of us no matter what challenges or suffering were faced. 

Finally, we asked for their forgiveness for any wrongs we committed and for their blessing for what is to come. 

I am grateful to them and G-d for every blessed moment with my family and to experience the beauty and learning of the world, until it is my turn to be gathered to my family and the L-rd in the after. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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June 5, 2016

Amazing Will

So this is amazing Will. 

He is a veteran who was disabled and is missing a leg. 

But that doesn't stop him from going to the track with his beautiful son to play ball and do some laps. 

In a few short moments he switches between his regular walking prothesis and the carbon fiber running blades for playing and working out. 

All I could say to Will was how amazing he is. 

And he is amazing Will for what he can do despite any disabilities--he turns his disabilities into abilities!

And he is amazing Will not just because of his name and his service to his country and his devotion to his family, but because of his willpower.

Will is determined to succeed no matter what. 

Not to compare, but I thought to myself what excuse do I have with my titanium hips.

Get the heck around the track for another dozen Andy!

And I did, and I am losing weight and getting back to myself. 

I think the lose of both my completely dear parents the last couple of years was more than traumatic for me. 

But they would want me to heal and to be me again.  

I know they are watching and I want to make them proud. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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April 9, 2016

It's Got To Be

So I read a book review the other day that I haven't been able to get out of my mind. 

The book was by an atheist who had 2 near-death experiences. 

And while for other people, they see the light at the end of the tunnel--and are reunited with family loved ones and are in bliss from being with the Heavenly Father...

This guy saw nothing but blackness and said it was empty and nothingness. 

And he was dead serious about it. 

He said there is nothing after we die, absolutely nothing. 

Now, while I have always believed in life after death and even in reincarnation if we still have more growing and learning to do, I had heard others say contrary beliefs in the past.

One guy in synagogue when I was a young adult used to say, "When you die, you're as dead as a dead dog!"

Lovely thought (not), but I never took any of that seriously. 

Yet, this guy's book somehow got to me on a deep level. 

Maybe because I lost my beloved parents over the last 2+ years and am still deeply mourning them, and the only thing that can possibly console me about that is the notion that I will one day be reunited with them and see them again. 

So the opposing idea that it's really over--that I will never see them again--experience their love and laughter again--is beyond my comprehension--it literally blows my mind in a bad bad way. 

Also, I said to my wife, if this atheist is by any chance right (not about G-d) but about there being no afterworld, then what is the purpose to anything we do--who cares?

Without G-d, without Divine will and justice, and a world-to-come, there really is nothing but darkness and not just after we die, but now too--because it would all be purposeless. 

No, I cannot believe that!

The atheist saw nothing afterwards, because he believes in nothing--it's a measure for a measure. 

For those who believe that there is more, much more--there really is. 

It has to be that way...for anything to make sense. 

For us to try so hard. 

For us to go on.

For us to have a purpose.

For there to be justice.

For there to be us. 

My dad used to tell me that "No one has ever come back from the other side to tell us what's there."

So it really is the ultimate mystery of life...but I choose to believe in life now and in life later. 

The miracles of my own life and those around me show me again and again that there is design, there is order, there is a plan, there is a purpose and I will find mine. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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December 22, 2015

Mortality Unlimited

So this week, there seems to be a theme of human frailty and mortality and I wanted to share it. 

While it is the holidays and we are celebrating and happy to be with our family and loved ones, it is also a time to miss those that are gone, care and pray for those that are not well, and give thanks for our own blessings.

5 examples in one week (and trust me, I am holding back):

1) Death of family member - One wonderful lady in the office who recently lost her mother (her mom was in her very early 60s and just didn't wake up one morning) came to the holiday party, but looked sad. I asked about her well-being, and she said she is doing well, but is still remembering and dealing with the recent loss of her mom who she was so close with. We talked briefly how it takes time to mourn and heal, and frankly, we never really get over it. 

2) Death of friend - A women I know just lost a very good friend (early 40s) to Kidney failure. She is on vacation, but is sad mourning over the loss, and also recognizing her own mortality and that anything can happen at anytime. 

3) Very ill teenager - A teenager was at a recent Shabbat event with her peers celebrating G-d and her Jewishness, and at the event revealed that she has a brain disease and the doctors told her she only has a few months to live. She said that unfortunately she will never get to see her wedding day. It was heartbreaking. 

4) Sick children - A colleague at work took a few hours off to deliver holiday gifts to the local children's hospital. She helped start an organization to raise money and support children with cancer and other devastating illnesses. It was a very beautiful thing to give back to the innocent kids. 

5) Aging gracefully - A friend who recently hit the big 6-0 was a little depressed. When I asked him how he's dealing with it, he acknowledged that it's hard, but that he had all year to prepare (smile). But at the same time, he said that he can't help looking back on his life as well as thinking forward to what comes next. He's had his share of illness, but medical science (with G-d's help) saved his life so far. We talked about not knowing what happens but that he could have another 30 "good years" or that sometimes having a quick, peaceful end can be okay too--since quality of life matters as much or more than quantity. 

The point from all this is not to be sad, but to realize we are but "flesh and blood" and we are alive only because G-d sustains us. 

What we can do is take care of ourselves and our loved ones and make the most of each and every day. We are not guaranteed any number of years or anything else, so each moment is as precious and needs to be lived as if it could be the last. 

Savor your blessings, because that is what they are--as my mother-in-law says, you are entitled to and the world owes you nothing.  ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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July 17, 2015

Work-Family Is A Word

This week I learned something about "work-family."

Yes, work is not family--it's your job.

But on the job we meet people that influence us, change us, and sometimes inspire us. 

Not everyone has a positive impact on us--some people we work with are bad, unbalanced, selfish, biased, and abusive--they bring their personal craziness into the office. 

But some are truly good people out there--and they leave a lasting impact. 

This week was the first time I experienced someone in my group passing away suddenly. 

She was at work Monday and Tuesday--we had talked and joked.

I remember she wore pink on Tuesday and it matched a pink stuffed animal on her desk--she looked happy or at peace. 

By early Wednesday morning, I was getting texts then calls that she had passed away (I simultaneously let my boss know). 

One day she was there in the office (and had been for some 30 years) and the next day she was gone.

But there was something special about this lady and how she interacted with the team. 

She seemed to touch people far and wide with her outreach, caring for others, joking around, and good spirit despite whatever challenges she herself may have been going through.

When she passed this week, people were in my office and the halls crying--they loved this lady, their coworker and friend.

At 9 AM, I gathered the broader team to announce her passing. "One of our own has passed." I spoke and then went around offering others to say a few words, which some surely did. 

At 10 AM, I sent a notification of the passing to the people in the entire building (and others associated).

Later in the day, there was a toast to her and more speeches from up and down the chain to remember this good lady as well as to pull together as a team to support each other.

By the next day, things had quickly moved to care for the family, packing her office things and memorializing her, as well as provisions for some grief counseling. 

[Note: I am blessed with an extraordinary high-performance team, and this passing was not only a shock but added to the intensity of the work we do and how much of it there is.]

Once we have all the funeral arrangements, then next up is sending out an broader department-wide notice--and a large attendance for her is expected. 

What I learned is that while work itself can be productive and meaningful, through doing good to others and sincere personal interactions on the job, there can be bonds formed that can have a personal impact on people and bring tears to their eyes. ;-)

(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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January 5, 2015

Comfort In Mourning

While sitting in mourning (Shiva) for my dad (as previously I did just last year for my mom), people come and say the ancient Jewish words of comfort:

"May the Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem!"


The experience of sitting Shiva is humbling, being in mourning, sitting on a low stool, unshaven, and with torn garb, and reciting the words of the Kaddish (mourners prayer) out loud. 


"...May He who makes peace in the high places, grant [in his mercy] peace upon us, and upon all Israel, Amen."


But more than anything, I have been overwhelmed by the outpouring from so many good people in the community. 


People have come to pray with me, tell me wonderful stories about my dad, and generally share with me in my mourning for him. 


I have been truly taken by the many people who have come both in good health, but also from people that were blind and with everything from broken arms to walking canes and to those who called thinking of me while they themselves are sick or even wheelchair-bound. 


People have shared their own stories of grief to let me know I wasn't alone, and they brought food so I definitely wouldn't be hungry. 


Others have told me how wonderful my dad was as a friend and in the community, how he made people smile and was always in good spirits (even perhaps when he had good reason not to be), and how he did so many good deeds (some that were known and many others that were not). 


I have been amazed how people stay not just for prayer services, but take the time to really talk to me, to give selflessly and generously, even from their own busy family and work lives and schedules. 


Some of the people I know from the community, some just knew my dad, but I realize how these good, giving people are really worth knowing as human beings--not because they were my dad's friends or gave to me at this time of mourning, but because they are truly spiritual people, who just desire to do some good in the world--like my dad who did this for others (and how he taught me all my life and especially as a child). 


I hope that this time of mourning is not just one of finding comfort and healing, but also a re-awakening of my own feelings for community, spirituality, and selflessness. 


I have much room for personal growth for myself, but also many role models around who have set the bar very high. Also, my dad has left some VERY big shoes for me to fill. ;-)


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)
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