It was a busy weekend, so this report will cover Friday Dec 1, and Saturday Dec 2, highlighted by the funeral and memorial for my late grandmother and matriarch of our family.
I woke up early to make the subway trip from Brooklyn to Manhattan to meet my father at 9am. We hit a bit of traffic on our way north to the funeral site and final resting place for my grandmother. I am the oldest of 9 grandchildren and we all affectionately called her saftah (שבתא) the Hebrew word for grandmother. She was also a great grandmother to my sister's two children. There was a car processional from the funeral center to the family plot of land, and it was quite long. She was a beloved wife, mother, and friend to many.
I am the oldest of four and my other three siblings were just in New York last week, and were unable to return on such short notice, so I had the responsibility of reading their prepared words in her honor. There was a good gathering for her burial ceremony. Standing room only, but not too many people standing. Just about the right amount of chairs.
The rabbi from our synagogue gave a moving eulogy, encapsulating her miraculous life -- she was a 97-year-old Holocaust survivor and persevered to raise a successful family of four boys. Her eldest and youngest sons spoke before it was time for the grandchildren. I went last and spoke for my siblings and I. The final act of the funeral is to shovel the dirt back over the casket. As is Jewish tradition, a stranger should not bury your loved ones, and everyone pitched in to do what they could. Her four sons started the act by throwing in some dirt from Mount Olive, a famous mount in hills around Jesusalem.
After the gravesite was filled back in, we headed back to her home to sit shiva, the term for Jewish mourning. People paid their respects and shared stories of her life. At sundown, we went to synagogue together as a family, where she was a member for 70 years!
While everyone else went back to their homes after dinner, my dad and I stayed at his childhood home and slept there one last time.
Side note of actifit importance: I managed to break the 5K threshold both days. She would have liked how active I was the weekend of her funeral. She was always very supportive of my athletic endeavors as a tennis, soccer, and rugby player. We were also a family of skiers, every single one of us, even the in-laws and grandchildren. It was a tribute to their European upbringing.
Saturday started with morning prayers at the synagogue. After a quick luncheon, my dad and I went to Party Coty to get supplies for the week-long mourning period (shiva) at her home. We got powder blue, her favorite color. Saturday was mostly a blur, filled with more friends and family sharing their condolences and memories. There isn't much more to say, but here is a picture of her and my grandfather on their wedding day, and another 50 years later at their golden anniversary!
I ended the night with a trip back to Brooklyn with my father. We will be sitting shiva on Sunday with my uncle, who lives in Manhattan, so that we can be more accessible to her city friends. Shiva will conclude back in Westchester at her home from Monday to Wednesday.
Love you Saftah! You were a role model and exemplar of courage and determination in the face of unimaginable evil. You leave a remarkable legacy of philanthropy with a life filled with loving kindness. May your memory be a blessing!
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