21 Elul 5767
As I type 5767 for one of the last times (7 days to go), I am really sad. "5767" has been my shibboleth, a sign to remind me of our goal. Three years ago, in the fall of 5764, we set our aliya date. It seemed so very far away then, and now...5767 is almost gone.
For nearly three years I included "5767" on things mundane, as in many of my website passwords. I found myself doodling it in the margins of notes I took in classes whenever "Eretz Yisrael" was mentioned. Sometimes I was sure that we would make it, and sometimes, well sometimes, I did not know how we ever could.
5767, my shibboleth, has served me well.
5767 has been as sweet as we had hoped. It has also held tremendous disappointment.
Yesterday, we buried Jerry Grossblatt, a"h, here in Eretz Yisrael.
He was a tzaddik.
Our hearts were ripped apart to see his holy widow and much too young, youngest child, sit in utter bewilderment on the first row of the room where the hespedim, speeches were given.
This room was folorn of comfort. Walls of stone, floors of cold marble. A low table-like an alter- where they lay the kadosh Jerry, wrapped in the same tallis he wore every morning as he greeted the One who bequeathed him with yet another day of life; and on this past Yom Rishon, took it away.
But there was comfort. 15- 20 wooden pews overflowed on each the men's and women's sides. All Atlanta-connected Jews who love the Grossblatts. We knew them for a few years, many decades, and some, for lifetimes. The walls were lined with our teenagers who are here in Israel beginning their year: discovering the unique contributions they have to offer Hashem and k'lal Yisrael. Yesterday, they discovered first hand, that the end for all of us is exactly the same.
The word spread in Yerushalyim all day Monday. Our phone which rarely rings, was my close companion, with people calling late into the night. So many wanted the details, what time?, where do we go?, how do we get there? They arranged tenders, offered rides, rented cars and came in taxis to Eretz HaChaim, several miles off Highway 1 on route 38, the way to Beit Shemesh.
They all came: relatives --don't we all feel related to them?, old friends--did they ever have a new friend?, Ruby's students--aren't we all Ruby and Jerry's students? We wanted to come because we all love Jerry and Ruby.
After painful, emotional, admiring, loving, honest hespedim were spoken, we slowly escorted our friend down an asphalt road, lined on either side with raised stretches of rocky ground, resting places for those who came before us. The beige-ness was stark in contrast to the treed and greened cemeteries we have been to too many times in the US. The barrenness was fitting, as it mirrored our feeling- It seems like less of a world, less colorful, less comforting— than the world that no longer bears the living neshama of Jerry Grossblatt.
The Chevra Kadisha escorted Jerry like the royalty he was. Once at his graveside, they circled his mes seven times, all the while reciting pesukim, verses from lofty sources. Finally, he was laid in the ground by Jews who knew their work was holy and covered with the earth of Eretz Yisrael by those who learned with him, ate with him, prayed with him.
And then, we all laid stones by him.
It was 21 Elul 5767 that we said goodbye to our beloved Yaakov Tzvi-- who was a tzaddik.
May we all be inscribed and sealed in the Book of Life, for a sweet year: 5768.
Rena and David