Tuesday, May 15, 2007

Thursday May 15

4th Shiva day.

Sad days for me,

Among those called to console
were Cousins I.M. Eisenkraft,
Friedman of the Camp, and
some Zionists and chalutzim.

My bereavement is such
that I can hardly find any

Sara Aarons and Gertie of the
shop also called today.


Matt's Notes

As someone who has sat shiva for a parent, I can say firsthand that the ritual made a lot of sense to me at the time, if only because it provided a set of instructions to follow when I wasn't much able to make good decisions or think about practical things. Under such circumstances, you find yourself bobbing and surging among unfamiliar, unpredictable waves of feeling, and it's a sort of luxury to sink and drown in them rather than struggle to remain reasonable, afloat. And this I gathered just because people dropped by my apartment with bagels, poured my Scotch and handled the pollo a la brasa deliveries from Flor de Mayo, not because I had any feeling for the shiva's spiritual underpinnings.

Papa's relationship to Judaism was far more profound, and we see it here in all its layers. His mere belief was, of course, a source of comfort, but it also inspired his everyday pursuit of Zionist causes and union activism. In turn, the supporters and friends who now filled his house were all related in some way to these pursuits: Zionists, chalutzim (Zionist "pioneers") fraternal brothers from the Order Sons of Zion. The community Papa constructed for himself, and to which he now entrusted himself, existed almost entirely because of his deep, abiding commitment to Judaism.

Even more importantly, the father Papa mourned was a religious teacher, so to mourn according to Jewish law was to follow his teachings, to remain all the more connected to his memory and his influence. So when Papa writes "My bereavement is such that I can hardly find any consolation," it is not an exaggeration or complaint -- he feels this way because he has been so instructed, and so constructed, by his faith and by his father.

photo of Papa's parents

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