We do not say hespedim on chagim like Chanuka because we are not supposed to be very sad on these days. Our rabbi from Maaleh Hazeitim, Rav Refael Shnur, said that when someone is niftar on chagim it’s like they didn’t want us to be too sad. It is so fitting that Bubby, who never wanted to be a burden or inconvenience any of us, passed away on a chag.
I also think there’s symbolism in her passing on Chanukah. When a person is niftar, it’s like a candle goes out. The loss of that light, that brightness, can be too hard to bear. But on Chanukah, we are surrounded by light, and the light grows every day as we add one more candle each night. Think of the hundreds of thousands of candles being lit around the world. The light of Bubby’s neshama has left us, but we can be comforted by the thousands of lights of the world’s Jews that increase every night.
But keeping that Jewish light alive is a battle. Bubby and her family fought the odds and trends to stay Jewish. Her father lost his job every Friday because he wouldn’t work on Shabbat, and Bubby had to knock on many doors after graduating high school until she found a job that would allow her to not work on Shabbat. Every Jew that lights a chanukiyah represents a Jewish neshama that is still bright. The lights of the chanukiyot represent the Jewish spirit that will not abate, that will not quit, that will fight to keep our Torah, just like the Maccabim did. Bubby was such a candle, and one of the brightest. She embodied the best of what a Jew can and should be: her Judaism was true and honest. And what I loved most of all about it: it was simple. No pomp and circumstance, no frills. She spoke directly to Hashem, said her tehillim for all of us, and loved to daven on the mirpeset. In God’s sunlight, in Israel, which is a light in a region and world of darkness.
I posted a beautiful picture of Bubby that Tsip took on Facebook, along with a synopsis of her amazing life. People were inspired by her story, but the vast majority of comments marveled at her extraordinary, radiant smile. A beautiful smile is a gift from Hashem, and Bubby used it well. She chose to smile, and her smile lit up every room she walked into (and we know how hard she worked to keep her teeth healthy – gum picking and all). She made everyone feel loved and part of the family. One of my parent’s former lone soldiers wrote that she always treated him like one of the family when he lived there. Danny, who is but a son-in-law, said that Bubby made him feel very special, and welcome, as if he was her only child. And every one of her grandchildren will tell you that he or she was her favorite. But we all know I was 🙂
And Bubby had such a great sense of humor and ability to laugh. No matter how old she got, she always laughed like a young woman. I loved that.
We had such a zchut having an inspirational and special person like Bubby raise all of us, and we are blessed with a physical manifestation of her: her gorgeous smile, and it’s a gift. If you look around this room you’ll see that a lot of us have been blessed with Bubby’s (and Zaidy’s – they were a blinding duo) smile. Zechut avot siman lebanim. Families carry on the genes and traits of their parents and grandparents. In some families, the traits are amorphous or hard to identify. In our family, you can’t miss it. If you’re in a room with a bunch of us, put on your sunglasses.
Bubby, if anyone lived a perfect, complete life, it’s you. I know you are up there at Rachel Imenu’s side, pleading with Hashem on our behalf. And writing letters, and protesting. All while flashing your winning smile. How could anyone say no?
We love you Bubby. It’s so hard to imagine the world without you. We will try to live in a way that will make you proud. Every time we smile, and hopefully make someone feel good and welcome and loved, we hope we will do justice to your incredible legacy.