Happy Father’s Day

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So it’s Shabbat and that’s one of the wonderful times to look at old photos in the albums and boxes. 


Yes, this was before digital photography!


I came across this art that my daughters had given to my father and mother when they were still alive–I think it was plastered on their refrigerator for a while. 


This photo seemed to bridge the past, present, and future for me. 


My parents are gone now to Hashem–already 2 and 3 years–and I still can’t believe it. 


At the annual Mother’s Day and Father’s Day–it’s just another time of year to remember how much I miss them all year long. 


For me now, it is also a chance to be grateful for my lovely children that G-d has so gracefully blessed me and Dossy with. 


Smiles, hugs and kisses, love and caring for one another–this is what life is all about.


Father’s Day to me is not about the gratefulness of my children to me, but rather of me to Hashem and them to be blessed to be a dad and have the chance to give back to such lovely children–to the next generation that greatly supersedes me and mine!


So I’m crunched in the middle in time between wonderful parents and beautiful children and as my dad would joke, it skipped a generation (hopefully, not really). 😉 


(Source Photo: My Girls)

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Visiting My Parents

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We went to visit my parent’s graves yesterday. 


Now, between the Jewish high holy days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur, it is customary to visit and remember our blessed loved ones. 


We went to spend time with them, tell them how much we miss and love them, and how hard it is without them. 


I was so moved by how beautiful my daughters spoke out loud to my parents in heaven–their words and tears were so full of sincerity for how they miss and love their dear Oma and Opa. 


They could articulate what was so hard for me to say, but which weighs so heavy always on my heart. 


We sat on the ground at the base of their headstone feeling their presence and hearing their words in memory and through my wife who has a special ability to somehow reach them.


My wife told me how she could see my mother literally dancing in heaven, and my dad always worrying about us and looking out for and telling us to be more religious…always, more religious. 


I wiped the dust off that had settled on the stone over the last months, and wished that I could somehow magically, with whatever spiritual energy I could muster, raise them up and bring them back to us.


The thought of years or decades of going on and not being able to see and speak with them again, in person, is forever impossible for me to imagine. 


The loss of my parents over the last few years has left an emptiness in my heart and keeps me asking myself, will I really be able to see them and be reunited with them again some day in heaven. 


My daughter reassured me that energy, including our personal energy, never disappears, it only transforms, and my wife said that she could feel that they were okay and happy!


I recounted the joke my dad used to tell about not wanting to be buried at the edge of the cemetery, because that’s where the water runs down, and he didn’t want to get rheumatism. 


I know how much they loved us and I could feel it sitting at their graves with the warmth of the sun over us and the cool breeze blowing against us. 


I will live out my days, trying my best to emulate in my own way my father, who was a servant to the L-rd in all that he did, and who taught us strict right from wrong, and as my mother who took care of us no matter what challenges or suffering were faced. 

 

Finally, we asked for their forgiveness for any wrongs we committed and for their blessing for what is to come.


I am grateful to them and G-d for every blessed moment with my family and to experience the beauty and learning of the world, until it is my turn to be gathered to my family and the L-rd in the after. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Homesick or Heresick

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It’s funny, my dad used to tell a joke about not being homesick, but being heresick (wherever that “here” may be for somebody–they just want to get out of there)


Recently, at work though, I have found there are many people that don’t want to go home at the end of the day–and it’s not because they always still have so much work to do (although sometimes certainly they do). 


Yesterday, I asked someone at work–on New Years eve–what they were still doing there late in the day.


Someone with a fairly new baby at home, jokingly winced at me, and said something about it sometimes being better to stay a little later at work, because when he/she gets home, they start all over again with the spouse and kid(s)–like so many of us. 


It’s strange to me, because I love and value home. 


And it’s like the old rhetorical question about do you work to live or live to work. 


Just yesterday, in the Wall Street Journal, there was a book review about someone who opined about how home is where the heart is–and in anthropological terms–it’s always been that way!


Home is our sanctuary, for ourselves and our beloved family, it is where we are “king of the castle,” and where we do everything from shelter, comfort, reproduce, share, and generally love and care for each other. 


Yet, back to work, many people these days don’t want to go home to crying babies and dirty diapers, nagging spouses and the evening fights, encroachment on private spaces, and errands galore (it’s a 2nd job almost)–cooking, cleaning, shopping, laundry, and bills–or even just plain loneliness there. 


So people hang out at work–they schmooze, they snack, they Internet, they may go to workout, or they dilly and dally–just so they don’t have to go home. 


As someone recently said to me, “It’s quiet. I like it there. Nobody bothers me there.”


They are homesick–not missing and yearning to be home, but some almost to the point of sick at the thought of going home. 


Work or anywhere else then becomes a refuge from the home that home is supposed to be. 


Sometimes it’s just a temporary thing at home, sometimes it’s more ongoing or permanent.


Everyone has a different home–for everyone it should be a true home. 😉


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

A Being Of Light

Being of Light 2

So last night, I dreamed about my beloved dad. 


He was in synagogue praying–something he did every day.


I was telling my dad that it was time to go.


But he didn’t want to leave–synagogue was his favorite place to be close to G-d and his friends. 


My dad was in the front of the synagogue elevated on the steps before the Holy Ark (where the Torahs are kept).


I looked at my dad and somehow knew/felt that he was near death. 


I ran to him and threw my arms around him in an incredible completely loving hug–clutching on to him to stay with us, longer.


In this embrace, I could feel his total and undying love for me.


Now he no longer looked like my dad but like a being of light–such as I had never seen.


He had died, but was still somehow alive in another way. 


I miss my dad–he was a truly holy man (a Tzadik) and a loving husband, father, and grandfather, who would do anything for us. 


I wish I could sit and speak with him again, hold his hand, hear him sing when we came over, and see him smile. 


(Source Photo: here with attribution to Taltopia.com)

My Dad, My Hero

Dad

I can’t just call or visit my dad to wish him a happy Father’s Day.


My dad is in heaven. 


But I am thinking about him, missing him, and wishing all the things I want to tell him but no longer can.


I’m sorry dad for not listening better and arguing so much. 


Your lessons were not wasted on me, I remember them all!


The most important you taught me to serve G-d and do good no matter what the situation–that is with me every day.


And I know with your grandchildren too. 


You are my hero–I believe that G-d watched over you your whole life because of what a good decent human being and servant to him you always were. 


Dad, if you can hear me in Heaven, I love you and miss you and Mom dearly. 


I hope if you can see me and the family, you are proud.


That is what I always wanted. 


When you said it later in life, I almost couldn’t believe it. 


But I know in my heart, you are and and have been my biggest advocate. 


Thank you for everything–everyday–you never flinched no matter how much or inconvenient it was.


May G-d reward you and Mom in heaven and shower you in his eternal light, love, and goodness. 


You son, 


Andy


(Source Photo: Andy Blumenthal)

Eulogy For My Beloved Mother, Gerda Blumenthal

Eulogy For My Beloved Mother, Gerda Blumenthal

We are here today to remember and honor my mother, Gerda Blumenthal, who passed away on Monday.

My mother was my personal heroine, even as just two days earlier, a great hero of the Jewish people died as well–Ariel Sharon, a former Prime Minister of the State of Israel and a hero general who fought militarily to defend his people, but who also disengaged the State of Israel unilaterally from Gaza to make peace.

Sharon’s role in history to secure the Jewish people came on the heels of the Holocaust where 6 million Jews were murdered – one of every three in the entire world!

To my mother, the holocaust was one of the defining moments in her life. She was just 5 years old, when the murderous Nazi secret police, the Gestapo, came up behind my mother and her father on the street in Germany, grabbed him and dragged him off to the concentration camps. My mother, a child, was left alone crying on the streets, until some neighbors found her and brought her home to her mother. Miraculously, her father was one of the few to actually be let out a number of weeks later, as he had already received visas for the family to come to America. He had lost 20-30 pounds in just those few weeks of brutal slave labor and beatings, but he and the family were free to come to this country and start anew.

Like many of the immigrant families who were forced to flee persecution, my mother and her family arrived here penniless, and her father who didn’t even know the language, worked as a tailor to try and support the family. My mother had wanted to pursue her education—and to be a nurse—but when she graduated high school, she was asked to immediately go to work to help the family earn a living in those difficult days. She did this dutifully and worked—mostly doing secretarial work, which was popular in those days—while raising my sister and I and taking care of my dad. My mom would put me on the school bus, rush off to work, and be home in time to make dinner for all of us. Mom was unwavering in her commitment to taking care of us. Mom taught me what family was, what it was to put family first, and what it was to work hard, very hard, always being there to take care of us, even when at times, it seemed like too much for any human being.

My older sister and I are eight years apart. But there was another sibling, Susie, born between us. However, she died as a baby leaving my mother and father bereaved of their 2nd child still in the early years of their marriage. Despite this new challenge in their lives—and what seemed like another personal test—my mother carried on with my father to build the family, and I came along four years later. I have always tried to make my mother and father proud of me, especially in light of the loss of their other child.

My mother and father—were best friends, but like all loving couples, they also argued—but they always came back together again to make up and bond. And I learned well from them that in relationships, we can argue, but we can work things out—even though it’s not always easy to say I’m sorry or I was wrong, but we come back together because we are a family–we love each other and have that commitment. The loss of my mom is magnified, because of that deep love, but also because we are a small family that has always lived a hop, skip, and jump from each other—like one extended family.

My mother and father put my sister and I through private Jewish school, all the years, and then through college and graduate school—so that I was able to get my MBA and my sister her PhD. Even in later years, she helped babysit for my children and was like a second mother to them, so that my wife, Dossy could get her PhD as well. She loved my daughters—Minna and Rebecca, and my niece, Yaffa, so much. My mother and my father even moved here to Silver Spring in 2000—soon after we relocated here to work for the government—so they could be with us and the grandchildren—even though my mother really loved living in Riverdale, NY and the community and friends there, and would otherwise never have left there.

I will never forget the endless sacrifices made for us, which contrasts to many other families in modern times, when people seem more focused on career, their own interests and happiness, and mired in the world of the Internet and social media. But my mom taught me that while we may want a lot of different things, we need to put our priorities in order and focus on what is really important—family, friends, and faith.

Like Ariel Sharon who suffered a stroke eight years ago, my mother was diagnosed with the horrible disease of Parkinson’s—also eight years ago. My mother went from being the one who took care of everyone to where my father, in his own old age, and his own illness, had to take care of her. He did this with unbelievable courage and tirelessly, he did everything for her—everything! Even when we all thought she needed to go to the nursing home, he brought her home and cared for her himself for two years under extremely trying circumstances. Until this last April, when my mother was hospitalized again and was too ill to go home again. She went to the Hebrew Home In Rockville, and later because of her severe pain was put under hospice care. My mom unfortunately suffered horribly—more than we have ever seen anyone suffer. When she passed this week, I was horrified to lose my mother, as anyone would be, and at the same time, I was grateful to G-d that perhaps she now had some rest from the all the terrible illness and suffering and was finally at peace.

She died on Monday almost immediately after the Rabbi said the final prayers with her, and so I hope that the prayers and good wishes of the Rabbi and all of us—her family and friends—are heard in heaven and usher her in as a righteous soul, loving wife, mother, and grandmother—and grant her everlasting peace and reward from the Almighty.

Mom, we will always remember everything you have done for us. You taught us what a good traditional Jewish home and values are. Thank you for the love, care, and endless sacrifices. You will live on in the children and grandchildren and hopefully, our lives will be a merit for you. We love you always, and miss you. May G-d welcome you back, grant you peace, and bless you.