The shiva for my beloved wife has ended. Today begins the shloshim which is cancelled because of Rosh HaShanah. Today my children and I will go to the cemetery and offer prayers for Rahel’s neshama.
The shiva was absolutely spectacular. The outpouring of 160 visitors who came to console us… doctors, surgeons, lawyers, university professors, rabbis, former students from 45 years ago, neighbors and amcha…the good-hearted people who loved Rahel and came to pay tribute to her memory.
We were inundated with food, so much I could have opened a supermarket: 4 whole roasted chickens, 5 kilos of sliced turkey, 8 baskets of assorted cookies, 4 platters of fruit, 2 platters of dried fruits and nuts, 5 boxes of herrings, 4 boxes of hummus, avocado salads, 3 kilos of chocolates. If there was more, I have forgotten to count.
Our refrigerator and freezer were overflowing. A toothbrush could not fit in. I had to carry platters of food to my daughter’s apartment to put foods in her refrigerator and freezer. A kind neighbor allowed us to put food into her freezer. I estimate that enough food was brought to us by visitors to last until Chanukah! May God bless them for their great kindness to us in our sorrow.
The praises, the tributes, the honor paid to Rahel is simply unbelievable. If she could have seen and heard, she would think it was all a wonderful dream.
Contributions are coming in. Donations to Torah funds, Yad Sarah, synagogues, cancer research centers and cancer hospitals. An orchard of trees for Keren Kayemet forests. Telephone calls of condolence from Brazil, Germany, France, Morocco, the United States and calls from friends and family in Israel too numerous to count.
Rabbis came and recited tehilim (psalms) in Rahel’s memory. “Not simply an eshet chayil, a woman of valor and virtue; she was a great lady who showed kindness to everyone she met and who gave tzedakah anonymously”. These were the words of our family rabbi. And our dear friend, Rabbi Yitzchak Gruzman, Chief Chabad rabbi of our city Rishon Lezion, joined us in our sorrow. As we recite kaddish daily, so too will he to honor Rahel’s memory.
How we survived the shiva, I do not know. Some people came late and stayed for three hours. Our doors were open for visitors from 2 p.m. (1400) until 10 p.m. (2200). We went to bed late at night and rose up at 7 in the morning to go to the synagogue to recite kaddish. My children and I are exhausted and our tears still flow uncontrollably. The well-meaning words of comfort and consolation from loving friends cannot ease the pain nor stop the flow of tears. Time is said to be a great healer. We are being tested.
It was a shiva spectaculaire! And today we go to Rahel’s grave to pray, to cry, and to bless her memory. We will ask her to intervene with the Almighty to bless us for a new year of better health and longer life.
And I will treasure 56 years of beautiful memories… Memories that will live as long as I live. Memories that, unlike my beloved and sainted wife Rahel, can never die.
Yehi zichra livracha lanetzach. May her memory be for a blessing forever. Amen.