Solace and Gratitude

January 24, 2019

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As many of you know, my father died earlier this month.  He had suffered a major heart attack in July, complicated heart surgery in October, and a roller-coaster of steps forward, set-backs, stints in rehab, and re-hospitalizations over the past three months.  It all proved too much, despite the excellent medical care he received and the incredible caregiving by my sister and my mom.

As many of you understand from first-hand experience, I am still in the fog of mourning, figuring out day-by-day how to adjust to a new normal for me, my family here in New Jersey, and my extended family back in Cleveland where I grew up and where my mom, sister, and cousins still live.  Through this grieving process, as an ideological Reform Jew, I am also trying out and trying on the different commandments and rituals of Jewish mourning.  Cutting the kriya ribbon, sitting shiva, not shaving, saying kaddish daily, and other facets of our tradition have taken on new meaning for me as I engage in them personally, rather than teaching about them or helping others experience them.  It is a learning process, to be sure, and I have found great wisdom and solace in the teachings of our tradition.

I am also incredibly thankful for the kindness of this community.  Thank you to all who have written email, left voice messages, sent texts, and offered words of support in person to me and to my family.  I am tremendously grateful for those who were able to attend the shiva night at my home last week, brought or sent cookies, pastries, breads, soups, deli trays, and full meals.  And I appreciate all of the donations that have been made to Temple in memory of my father.  I have long believed in the importance of belonging to a Jewish community where people care for each other.  I have now experienced that first-hand and feel enriched and heartened by all of the support.  It is a blessing to be part of such a gracious, kind, compassionate community.  Thank you.