Posted: May 9, 2012 By: Leah Jaffee
Yesterday, being the first bona fide work-is-optional day since well before Passover, allows me to attend the funeral of a young 40-something mother in the community. Alternating catering funerals and brisses over the past weeks, I'd felt small relief that births outnumbered deaths. My unofficial statistic offers little comfort when confronted with the life-is-optional reason for joining the community in burying one of our own.
My work doesn't often offer time for being on the rejoicing end of a simcha. The back of the house is where my energies are spent. I consider it an honor to assist and suport a seamless celebration of a Jewish lifecycle event. I miss countless weddings, bat mitzvahs, bar mitzvahs, shul dinners and school auctions. I try to never miss a funeral in my immediate community. As a convert, I find the art and functionality of the Jewish burial intensely real and quietly intimate. As friends and family shovel, the sound of metal on rock, gravel on wood fills the hollow of uncertainty within my soul. I don't know what lies beyond. We release the dead and comfort the living. Funerals are important and a community matters.
The Rabbi spoke with eloquent familiarity having been a mentor and friend of the deceased and her family. Speaking with authority, offering insight, wisdom and consolation, his words are heartfelt. He ends his eulogy with encouraging words that in the face of ultimate loss and grief, choose to love more not less and choose to give more, not less. Let us say, Amen.