She, being my husband’s mother, left us 31 years ago. She had a hard life and a hard death, but she was well loved. She never heard of ZOOM but last night would have put a smile on her face as the family commemorated her passing.
Normally, my husband would have gone to a shul minyan and recited the prayers and Kaddish at a Maariv service. Of course, nothing is done normally these corona days. And so our family has already commemorated a wedding and an engagement and another yahrzeit, all on ZOOM. Fundamentally, ZOOM is better! That’s my opinion of course and I’m sure the rabbonim disagree. But, hear me out!
In order to get a minyan on ZOOM (I know some who won’t consider such a minyan kosher or halachically acceptable; you are entitled to your interpretation of Jewish law, which is I’m sure much more educated than my own) you need to gather 10 individuals (I know; here I go again; not even 10 men!) with the necessary computer skills to respond to the ZOOM invite. Being technically challenged and damaged, my husband and I struggle to do this each time we are so invited, and yet each time we do manage, in the nick of time, to join in). And so it was yesterday at 6 p.m. on the dot.
We gathered, virtually of course, and my husband and his sister each spoke about their mother, Fayga bat Gella o Lazer. She had come to America as a young unmarried woman, a new immigrant from the Pale, in an intact family with parents and four daughters. They struggled, as did so many of their generation, and each daughter ultimately married a Jewish man, and raised a family. The sisters remained close throughout their lives. Fayga worked as a seamstress in the garment industry, difficult and physically demanding work. She also maintained their modest Brooklyn apartment and did the household chores. Together with her husband Baruch she raised two children. One became my husband. Her goal was always to assure that her children would have more learning and material things than she and her husband had. And, in this, she was a giant success.
Tradition and education were very important to her and she lived for, and loved to take part in, family gatherings and smachot. She derived immense pleasure when her grandchildren were awarded advanced degrees from prestigious institutions. This was dream fulfillment for Fayga, and all those who travelled similar paths in this new world. She pursued the American dream and was rewarded.
Last night we remembered her. ZOOMing gives us all capabilities that would have been previously impossible. As we started our commemoration I was dazzled, once again, to see the participants. Here was our grandson from Jerusalem. Here was another from Bend, Oregon. Here were the newlyweds from Cambridge, Ma, and the recently engaged couple from the same place. Others were in various states including the very recently married from Manhattan. All those without conflicting plans or school showed up to memorialize the great grandmother that they hadn’t known. Only one great grandson, our nephew, had already been born when Fayga left us. It was an opportunity to share the service and then follow up with a visit. We felt together. In fact we were together in her honor. Fayga would have absolutely adored it as she would have witnessed her love and values being transmitted to these young people, branches of a tree she and Baruch planted and nurtured. In short, it was beautiful, meaningful, appropriate and a really remarkable tribute. She sowed and she reaped! And we ZOOMed!
May she rest in peace.