Okay, so this is a week late! It’s amazing that it takes me an entire day each week to run the house. I think I’ll have five minutes to write. I have someone helping with the baby and cleaning, and I still can’t manage to post a blog or finish five other personal projects I intend to finish. At least I can read on the metro. That’s actually been really nice. I am one of those nerds who would walk down the street reading a book (or listening to a Nextbook podcast) when I used to walk to work. However, between being pregnant and my foot surgery, I didn’t actually walk to work much the last year. So now – all at once, I have a four bedroom house and baby to take care of, along with a commute to adjust to. Of course, these are high class problems and I’m not complaining for one minute. I’m just learning to manage it all.
Speaking of high class problems, it will be a bit before we know the full fallout from the Madoff scandal but I already know people losing their jobs and fundraising commitments being cancelled. It will be interesting to see how the Jewish community comes out of this – who will lead the way out and what priorities will float to the top. When you have nothing, you suddenly realize what your real priorities are. It will be the same with the community. I hope they will be feeding the poor and education.
Fortunately or unfortunately, the soul also needs to be fed. That’s what the Holtzbergs were doing (and feeding the body kosher food in a place where it could not otherwise be found) in Mumbai. The Shabbat after the terrorist attack there we really wanted to go to a Chabad but we weren’t able to make it. It was too far to walk in the cold with Avital/Molly. We went the week after that. All the Chabad Rabbis were reading a dvar torah of Rabbi Holtzberg’s that week. He spoke a few years ago at the annual gathering of all of the Chabad shluchim (emissaries) and it happened to be about the other week’s torah portion. So all the Chabad shluchim decided to spread his words, rather than let the attacks silence him. It was quite beautiful. Rabbi Bluming in Potomac did a terrific job in tribute to him. [Chabad also made a haunting and beautiful film about their work in Mumbai that was shown at the community memorial] It was a great message with interesting local stories about suddenly hosting an El Al plane full of people stuck in Mumbai. He had to slaughter all of his own chickens on an island but managed to host 200 people at the last minute, about 50 of which had never kept a Shabbat before. Another fun story – he asked someone once if he could use the food that was being offered to their idols to feed some of the starving people on the street. The guy responded, “No. They [the idols] eat it,” in all seriousness.
The point is – he and his wife touched more people in just the last few years than most people do in a lifetime. I think we can all cope with the specter of death if we feel like we’re living for something, seizing the moment, and enjoying ourselves at something more than golf. We all need self-satisfaction that comes from hobbies like golf, but also what comes from not even saving the world, but just touching others and helping them in a meaningful way.
The day after hearing Rabbi Holtzberg’s words I went to the unveiling for a good friend. The Rabbi and her son both said different versions of this: It’s not the years of your life, it’s the life of your years. They told a story of someone at her shul in Florida who said she was the only person to talk to her and welcome her when she first didn’t know anybody. That’s the type of woman I want to be. Don’t leave kindness to other people. In the meantime, the laundry will wait for me.
Postscript to last post: She slept through the night again last night! First time since Chicago. Here’s hoping for more! I still woke up at her usual 3:30 am snack time. But she did not!