Tuesday, September 13, 2011


My short, uncanny pilgrimage to Chareidi country took 203 and 1/2 hours from beginning to end including the going and the returning, for everyone and everything experienced within this space of time was a significant part of it.  The best gifts were the tete-a-tetes that took place as a matter of course, unplanned, but if at all designed it was by the prevailing circumstances of the moment and these were always the unforgettable ones.  And this was how Sapir and I found ourselves, with no one to relate to except each other so we made the most of this most salutary occasion to enjoy and to focus on our budding acquaintance.

Sapir is a modern Jewish woman who is stylish and passionate.  She dotes on her children in exultantly ardent ways in the manner that only mothers do.  One cannot help but remark on how she greets them both on coming and on leaving, hugging and kissing them as if it would be her last time to do so.  That was big lesson number one I learned from her - do not take the precious time you have with your loved ones for granted. She was a captivating story-teller who wore her emotions in her eyes, on her facial expressions and in her body language which effectively filled in the small gaps in her fluency in English.  Just like with her mother , we communicated beautifully. She told of her daughter Menuha's courtship with Ari which faithfully reflected Ari's version.  She told of her daughters' religiosity.  And apropos to this, she told the most poignant story about her father.  Her father was a very religious man.  When he was a young man, he and his brother left the rest of their family in Yugoslavia to lay railroad tracks for the Germans in Austria.  When they returned to Yugoslavia, they found their family wiped out by the Germans.  Sapir grew up knowing her father as a non-religious man.  He was mum about his experience to his children.  Sapir learned about this important chapter in his life from her mother who told the story after her father had passed.  Yet the gentle and pacific nature of his spirit echoes to our time in a peaceable voice, a most sacred legacy of valor by not further poisoning his loved ones with the harshness and ugliness of violence and by holding up his dignity and that of his family in quiet grace. The character of this wonderful man is reflected on the lovely and contented visage of Libi, his wife, and in the solidity and wholesomeness of his children and his children's children.   Sapir believed that her father's piety skipped a generation and thus, was inherited by her daughters.

Can one ever fathom the excruciating anguish wrought by such unspeakable loss? Perhaps that's why he did not speak of it.  It was simply beyond bearing.  If there's a God, why did this happen to a religious man such as he?  This was central to Keren's atheism. God certainly was in the grace with which this holy man tackled every ion of violence that was dealt him and his family - how does one heal from such shattering wounds on heart and soul not to mention physical losses? Only with God in every tear, in every wound, in every hurt, in every emptiness, in every grief, in every longing.  In Sapir's father's honor, I wish for peace in every land and in every nation so that no one will ever know again the agony he bore.  For every man, woman or child violated in any way, shape or form anywhere in our world everyone of us is diminished and only by the grace of God do we become whole again.