Tears of Sadness, Tears of Joy…Tears of Sadness

My mother, a Holocaust survivor who like so many others went through unspeakable horrors, undoubtedly cried when she learned that her parents and siblings were murdered. She witnessed the shooting of a younger cousin at the hands on Amon Goeth, the sadistic camp commandant of Plaszow, just outside of her birthplace in Cracow, Poland. Enduring slave labor, starvation, constant beatings, and a death march, how can one NOT cry?

Reuniting with and marrying my father at the end of the war was celebrated with tears of joy on the occasion of their survival and their unswerving commitment to rebuild a Jewish life together. My mother often times speaks of the birth of my sister and myself as “Hashem’s gift.” Having lived through what she did, it was almost unimaginable that she would survive, marry and have children. With the birth of grandchildren – most if not all named after Family members murdered by the Nazis – I witnessed tears of joy as my mother celebrated the continuity of our people and the realization that her loved ones were not forgotten. When the Bracha of great-grandchildren began to arrive, my mother was jubilant. Tears of sadness had given way to tears of joy!

Of late, however, tears of sadness have begun to reemerge. Flashbacks of Auschwitz have become more pronounced; recollections of the beatings suffered are now frequent parts of her daily routine. With the passing of my beloved father, the love of her life, shortly before their 70th anniversary, daily existence has become painful.
Frequent visits from her children, grandchildren and great children, interrupt the despair and give way to tears of joy.

It is difficult to describe the appreciation that a call or visit from a loved one can have on the older generation. We are all so ‘busy’ with our lives that it can be difficult to find the time to pay these visits. However, when you realize the tremendous impact that a call or visit can have, this ‘dose of love’ can be rewarding and fulfilling to you as well.

So this week, find the time to call or visit your aging parents/grandparents and help change their tears of sadness and loneliness into tears of joy and appreciation.

Make a call. Pay a visit. Make a difference.

About the Author
Rabbi Zev Friedman is the Rosh Mesivta, Dean Of Rambam Mesivta for Boys and Shalhevet High School for Girls.