A tribute to my Zaidy

Last Thursday, my grandfather, whom we called Zaidy (grandfather in Yiddish), died. He was 93 years old. He was buried on Friday November 25, 2016 beside his brother. He leaves behind my grandmother who he was happily married to for almost 67 years, my mother (his daughter) and my dad, my sister and I along with our partners and my two kids.

zaidy eulogy

At the funeral, my sister spoke on behalf of my family. Here is her eulogy. It was a beautiful glimpse into my grandfathers life. 

Mostly everyone here has met my grandfather and knows what a special person he was. There are so many different aspects to his character that I could go on and on about.

He had amazingly gentle spirit and kind nature with the sweetest smile on earth. My sister and I were looking through old photos last night, and this spirit shone right through the pictures. He was loved my most people who met him, and similarly he loved most people he met. When we would have family meals together, he would sit there quietly with a smile on his face the whole time. That is, unless we were talking about the news and politics. He was opinionated and passionate about his views, especially about Israel,  and I can’t recall a debate he lost, well at least he didn’t think he did. My family carries on this enthusiasm for current affairs and debating at the dinner table. If we thought he was louder than usual debating with us, you should have heard his weekly calls with his brother Moti in Montreal. With the newspaper out, it always sounded like they were fighting but that was really just how passionate they were about the worlds crazy events.

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 He was incredibly proud of, and devoted to, his family. He was married to my Bubby for an amazing 67 years. She was the matriarch of the family, and definitely not quiet like Zaidy was. He would dutifully do as told, sometimes flashing us a bit of a sly smile in secret. In recent years his hearing was almost gone, but he joked that he heard what he needed to hear. They would tell us stories of trips to Hawaii and Atlantic City with his sister and husband, their love for dancing especially the Paso Doble and Tango, and drinking just a bit of good wine and beer. He was incredibly devoted to her and cared for her as much as possible, for as long as possible. He held on as long as he could for her sake. His daughter Vardela (our mother) was the apple if his eye, and I know he was incredibly proud of her. My mom was equally proud of him. She said yesterday that parents are supposed to get nachas from their kids, but she got lots of nachas from her parents. He was a devoted grandfather and loved to dote on us. When we went to visit them in Vancouver, they saw my sister and I eat some Kit-Kats. Sure enough the next visit their whole cupboard was full of Kit-Kats. I made the mistake of coming to their house full one time and didn’t want to eat anything. “You don’t eat enough”, ” You are too skinny”,  they said! I made sure to always eat there from then on, it really brought him a lot of joy.

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We feel that being a great grandfather gave him a new lease on life. He loved watching them play and looking at pictures of them. Just this past Monday he laughed looking at pics of the boychuk and the ballerina, as he called them. 

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 All of that said, what makes my Zaidy so special and inspiring was his outlook on life. I read a quote by Albert Einstein  that really resonated – that you have two choices of how to view life, as though nothing is a miracle, or that everything is a miracle. My sister remembers asking Zaidy about the Holocaust and he didn’t want to talk about it, that these are things that shouldn’t be remembered. In the past few years he felt differently. Every time I would go visit, I would go sit in the den with him. He would start by asking me what’s news, what was going on in my life. Then he would dive into his stories. Over and over, he would recount what he went through, often telling the same stories. I’m not sure whether he forgot that he told them, whether his mind was just getting stuck on replay of those years, or whether it was his way of making sure these stories would be remembered and told – probably a mixture. He talked of being on the death march at the end of the war, and how an as officer who had gone mad told him “lead me out Moses”, and the two walked off. Yesterday, we were recounting this story to the Rabbi and realized we all had slightly different versions but the point was the same. This was a miracle. When he went to Israel after and fought in the War for Independence, he went out on the battlefield with no weapon, having to take one from someone who died. The fact that he survived, that they won, was unbelievable, a miracle. What is unbelievable to me was that he still had such deep faith, that he believed in miracles, after seeing such unimaginable horrors all around him. How could he be so loving and calm? He taught us how to forgive but not forget. There is sadness and hatred in the world, but life goes on and love goes on. This is an important lesson for us and everyone. As the late Leonard Cohen said, there is a crack in everything, and that’s how the light gets in. May my grandfather’s memory and lessons continue to be a source of light.

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Comments

  1. mom2michael says:

    I am so sorry for your loss. He sounds like an amazing man. xo

  2. Bonnie says:

    Bonnie
    Im so sorry, what a wise and kind man. The world needs more decent people: like all of you.Wishing all of you long, healthy, happy, lucky, successful, safe lives. Much Nachus
    Happy Chanukah
    Bonnie

  3. Beautiful eulogy!

  4. Linda Levitt Saks says:

    What beautiful words describing a beautiful human being! I met your grandfather as a high school friend of your mom. Humility and finesse are words that come to mind when thinking of his attributes. One thing is for sure, he loved life and I am sure he loved you, his family. Teach your children well, as the song says…..may his memory be a blessing to you and Kol Yisroel.

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