My address to my M.A. ED. Community:
This week’s parshah speaks of many different facmous biblical stories. It begins with the messengers visiting Abraham in his tent after his circumcision. From this event, we can derive the most basic sense of what Bikur Cholim, visiting the sick is. We visit those who need healing, hoping to lift their spirits. For Abraham, this event took place shortly after he made a journey to a new land, an unknown land. Abraham was experiencing the world anew, alone, and these visitors became his momentary community.
This section of the parshah speaks to me, I am like Abraham. 10 weeks ago, many of you spent the week getting to know one another on a new journey, making new community, experiencing and taking in this exciting new year. 10 weeks ago, while this was happening, I was sitting in my father’s hospital room. Raw after a month of mourning for my grandfather, scared. On July 22nd, my papa passed away, a great loss to me. 4 days later, during his Shiva, my father lead mincha, what was to be his last conscious act, and then was rushed into the ICU in septic shock. 10 weeks ago, I sat at his bedside, waiting for the breathing machine to be taken away, praying for him to heal, and knowing he probably wouldn’t, I spent 60 hours at his bedside, watching him, talking to him, holding him and waiting. 10 weeks ago, while you were beginning this journey, coming back to a familiar place, my world was jolted and torn apart, I spent the week mourning the loss of my father, my teacher, my best friend.
9 weeks ago, I came back to LA, back to school, but to a new community, on a new journey. Many of you only know me as I am today, a mourner, broken, lost, scared. And with all that was happening in our world, life went on, and I went on carrying the grief in my heart. I want to share with you just a little bit about where I am at, and propose a few ways to help me.
I am a mourner, when my daddy died I not only lost my father, but I lost my teacher, my best friend. He was my partner, my pair in the family, my support when I needed help solving a challenge. I am here, but I feel alone. Many mornings, it takes all my energy and faith to get out of bed and make it to minyan and school. Some days, I just want to cry all day, but I don’t, because I have to go on. And then I learn all of these incredible theories, models, frameworks, and I pick up the phone to call my father, and then I remember, he won’t answer.
I stand here, and most of you only a few minutes ago began to hear just a sliver of what I was going through and continue to carry with me when I arrived here. 10 weeks is too long to not talk. We are here because we are going to be Jewish leaders, make a difference, educate. One of my father’s most important lessons for me is that I can learn and teach from every moment in life. This tragedy, this pain, this loss for me can help each of us.
In many ways, I feel alone because no one here knows me. So, here is your permission, and a request- ask me how I am, ask me about my father, about my mourning practices. If you want to know about my dad, what happened, anything, I am more than happy to share, the gifts of his life and the challenges of his health. I need a little pushing and pulling, and I need help. My journey through my father’s illnesses lasted 7 years, but throughout that time, He was my number one fan, my confidante and my best friend, He taught me so much about myself and the world, and It is so hard to go on without him.
I very much hope that this is not the end of the conversation, but the beginning. I hope to share with you my journey, and help each of us grow into the leaders we will be one day. My daddy always taught me to make the best of the situation, everything can be learned from, and most of all that his memory should be for a blessing. His life was about people, helping people, caring for people and talking with people. I hope we can talk. I hope I can share the blessings of his life, and my blessings of having him in my life with you.
Let us learn from Abraham and the messengers. Help me heal, grow and move forward so that I too can enjoy this wonderful journey.