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In Loving Memory

Tybie Resnick, z"l (image courtesy of author)

We are a nation in mourning. This Yom Hazikaron was the undoubtedly the worst one we have ever experienced. Every person here in Israel has been affected by the war, some in the worst way imaginable. Yet every day, we try to lead normal lives. We continue working to make a living, taking care of our families, and fighting this war. And we’ll continue until it’s over. Until we have won. Until our children and parents and siblings and soldiers have all returned home- from captivity and from the battlefield.  In reality, though, it’s hard to keep going, and it is difficult to see friends who have lost family members since October 7. They are trying to live their lives, even though each day is torture for them. They have gone through the worst of the worst.  Nearly everyone, including me, have children, nephews and nieces, sons-in-law and cousins all serving in dangerous places, as we speak. We are all worried. But nothing can compare to the pain of the bereaved families. Which is why I feel so uneasy about being in aveilut (mourning) right now.

Three weeks ago, I lost my mother. She had been hospitalized before Pesach, and unfortunately, what at first seemed to be a treatable illness deteriorated rather quickly into a life-threatening situation, which proved too much for her to recover from. Mom was 86. We had just celebrated her birthday in March, all of us going out to eat for dinner, like we often did for birthdays, usually of a grandchild, of which there are many, thank G-d. We had a great time, as we always did. We had no way of knowing what would happen a few weeks later. It’s better that way. To know would have been too painful.

At the shiva, which began immediately after Pesach, many visitors described how shocked they were to hear of my mom’s passing. They told me how they had seen my mother only a few weeks before, at the makolet or the bakery, and had had a lovely conversation with her. One friend showed me a picture, taken exactly one month before, of my mother and her “lunch ladies”, sitting at her dining room table. My mother had hosted three of her friends for lunch, and they were all smiling, a buffet spread out before them. A cousin of mine who came to visit remarked how great my mom had looked when they saw her last, in February, at my daughter’s wedding. “She seemed totally fine”, she told me.

I loved hearing these things about my mother. It cheered me up during the shiva week, to know that the last memory of her, for so many, was a good one. She had been happy and chatty, they told me, walking down the block with her walker and her caregiver. “Getting in my steps for the day”, she would tell everyone.

Gil, from the fruit store next to the makolet, came to make a shiva call with one of his employees. They knew my mother well. Mom loved Gil’s soup that he made during the winter months. She would go into his store several times a week and he always made sure to help her, bringing her groceries back to her apartment for her when there wasn’t enough room in the basket of her walker.

Sandra, her manicurist, came to visit us as well. The day before she was hospitalized, Mom had gotten her nails done. She had a standing appointment with Sandra, who was shocked and saddened to hear the news.

Dena, my mother’s dentist, also came over to pay her respects. Yes, mom was a very good patient. She would joke that she had a regular appointment at the dentist as well, she was there so often. “I’ve had so much work done, my teeth are worth a million dollars”, she would say, only half kidding.

Diana, my mom’s physical therapist for the last several years, cried with us as she described how she and my mother had become close friends over the course of the therapy sessions.

Rabbi Stewart Weiss, my mother’s Rabbi, came to pay a shiva call. Mom was a regular attendee at the Wednesday “Lunch and Learn” program that Rabbi Weiss runs. He had been away for Pesach when he heard the news. He, too, was deeply saddened, and was visibly choked up while giving a Dvar Torah after mincha, in her memory.

It was heart-warming to hear stories about her. My mother was super-friendly. Most of her friends who came to the shiva were people that she had only met within the last 10 years, when she and my father, z”l made aliyah. She was part of a Whatsapp group of called “Best Friends”.  They would post messages daily, updating each other on the local Ra’anana goings-on, informing each other of an interesting lecture at Matan, or a guest speaker at shul, or simply making plans to get together. While she was in the hospital, the Whatsapp group was especially active, inquiring about Mom’s health and sending wishes for a speedy recovery daily. My sisters and I read each message to her and kept the ladies updated on Mom’s condition.  When Mom passed away, shortly after Shabbat of Chol Hamoed, we didn’t have the heart to tell the ladies. Not through a Whatsapp message. My sister later called one of Mom’s friends who, unfortunately, had to pass along the bad news to the others.

Each person who came to visit said the same thing: My mother was such a nice lady and a wonderful conversationalist. Many people couldn’t believe how she had only been in Israel for less than 10 years, yet had formed so many friendships and had such a busy schedule.  But that was my mom. Though she had initially been worried about making aliyah, she had no trouble finding her place once she arrived.  She was so personable and loved talking about current events, especially controversial topics.  She could talk to nearly anyone about anything, and even though she was hard of hearing, she tried to keep up withe the conversations at the dinner table and wasn’t shy to give her opinion.

Though her health had been declining over the last few years, my mom maintained quite a busy schedule, shuttling between doctor’s appointments, the makolet, shiurim, lunch dates and simchas, of which she was invited to many, more than she could even attend. She was careful to write everything in her day book, her yoman, so she wouldn’t forget anything and to ensure that she got everywhere she needed to be, on time. Until recently, she had been logging into a Zoom book club as well, keeping up with her friends from the “old country” (Philadelphia). During her “spare” time, she would do all the puzzles in The Jerusalem Post. Every day. On TV she’d watch the cooking shows and the news from her rocking chair.  Shabbat afternoons were spent playing Scrabble and Bananagrams with her grandchildren, or reading a novel.

I could go on and on. It’s therapeutic to talk about, and I have so many stories and anecdotes. But as we approach the shloshim next week, the end of the 30-day mourning period, I am reminded daily of what is happening all around us. While I am grateful that my mother lived a long and fulfilling life, and though she was very happy living here in Israel, she was, like everyone else,  deeply distressed about the war. She said tehillim every day for sick people and the injured soldiers. While I mourn the loss of my mother, privately, I pray for Am Yisrael, that the captives and all our soldiers return home safe and sound. B’ezrat Hashem, bim’heira b’yameinu.

Mom, put in a good word for us, too. We need it.

In loving memory of Tybie Resnick, Zichrona L’Vracha.

About the Author
Chana Resnick Pinto made aliya in 2005 and lives in the Sharon area of Central Israel. She has a BA in English from Yeshiva University and an MSEd from Bank Street College of Education in New York City. Chana works at Eric Cohen Books in Ra'anana and loves living in Israel. She encourages everyone to stop and smell the flowers and always appreciate the small things.
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