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Wednesday, 2 March 2011

When I was a kid, I loved to look through my parents’ yearbooks, picture albums, and anything else that added to my understanding of who they had been en route to the individuals I called “Mom” and “Dad.” Most of all, I loved to hear the stories. They illustrated how real my parents had been during their formative years. My father, in particular, has always regaled us with tales and anecdotes from his youth younger days. Some funny, some serious. By sharing snapshots, both literal and figurative, people who had played some significant role in their lives became part of our family story.

Through stories and field trips, ZaydeGiraffe, a second-generation Los Angeleno, made it a point to share with us his love for his native city. He has always painted a warm picture of a Jewish community that was embracing and far more tolerant of theological differences and ritual practices than the community of today. As exemplified by more than forty-five years of friendship with the daughter of significant leader, z”l, of the Los Angeles Orthodox community.

They met in a Speech class during their sophomore year in college. The first day of class, each student was asked to speak (extemp) about themselves for a few minutes. Both ZaydeGiraffe and this co-ed shared their recent experiences at JewCamp. An immediate connection was made.

One Shabbos, ZaydeGiraffe decided to daven by his friend’s father’s shul. She, as it turns out, was at “Shaarei Shluffie” — in other words, she opted to stay home and sleep.

Rebbetzin: Your friend came by us today. He’s very nice.
Daughter: Which friend?
Rebbetzin: The one from university. I think he is learning by the Reformers.
Daughter: How did you know?
Rebbetzin: His cuffs…they were so clean…and white.

I never met the Rebbetzin in person. But I know her through stories and the bonds of memory. About both her kitchens — which probably explains why I’ve always wanted a dining room with a milchig kitchen to one side of it and a fleishigkitchen to the other side. About her acts of kindness, bringing kosher food to patients in the days when it wasn’t so easy to get kosher food in the nearby hospital. How she opened her home, sometimes for years, to those who had no other family.

The Rebbetzin, z”l, died this past Sunday and was laid to her Eternal Rest the following day. The world has lost a true Eishes Chayil.

When their days of mourning have ended, may her name be sweet on the lips of those who loved her.

2 Comments leave one →
  1. Zaydegiraffe permalink
    Wednesday, 2 March 2011 11:58 pm

    I have delighted in telling this story many times over the years. Hearing it today from the mouth of my beloved friend, as she sat shiva for her dear mother,a”h, was surely poignant. Reflecting on the Ahavat Yisrael that was so much more a part of Jewish life in earlier decades should move us to build bridges anew,wherever possible. May the righteous deeds of the Rebbetzin,z”l, who touched so many lives with her kindness, inspire us all to reach out to others.

  2. Frume Sarah permalink*
    Wednesday, 9 March 2011 11:35 pm

    Keyn y’hi ratzon — May this be God’s Will.

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