Sunday, August 07, 2005

Second Letter to the Community

Tomorrow, August 8th, is Nechama's english birthday. I am trying to convince myself that it is not significant, but no success yet. Instead of bat Mitzah preparations we are working on the Yarzheit seudah.
The following is a letter that was recently sent out to the Far Rockaway community along with an audio cd of the sloshim from last year:

With the summer afoot and the Yartzheit rapidly approaching, our thoughts turn towards the events of last summer. There are strong feelings which well up inside. Among them are the feelings of pain, loss and shock. So much time has passed, yet the yearning, the sense of loss, does not diminish. Love for a child is never lost. The desire to see your child does not lessen. From where do we draw the strength? Upon what wellspring of energy can we draw? Where will we find the courage to move on?

We need look no further than the ניפטרת. ליבא ע''ה נחמה lived each day knowing it might be her last. Her childlike innocence was a facade. It was nothing more than a protective shield around those she loved. She understood her predicament all too well. Her החיים שמחת wasn’t from ignorance rather it was a calculated and intentional effort to serve Hashem בשמחה regardless of the challenges that were thrown her way. No matter what the circumstances, Nechama always maintained her smile with her love of life. Just as she looked fear in the eye, we must do the same with our grief. She was determined to make the best out of each day regardless of her situation. She didn’t let it get in the way of what she needed to accomplish.

Imagine a stranger who chances upon the קברof the ניפטרת . As he comes closer he notices the many dozens of rocks that adorn the grave. At first, he considers that this is the קבר of a great Rebbe. As he walks closer, he sees the name. Perhaps, he thinks, she was a grandmother, who left a large family, and the rocks were left by her children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. But as he moves closer, he sees the dates of birth and death. There is a short span between them. She lived too few years to have amassed a family. But those who knew the ניפטרת , those of us who experienced a summer like last year, know that the קבר is that of a child. There are 2 sides to this story. On one side is a child who was a teacher, a teacher of values and ideals well beyond her years. Ideals such as שמחה in the face of adversity, always being kind to another person, love of Hashem and intense תפילה. She not only taught those ideals but she lived them. Her life’s goals, by her own proclamation, were to spread those ideals and inspire a nation. I suspect that the breadth and the depth of her influence reaches far greater than any of us know, and certainly farther than Nechama ever thought. Those affected by her, are her “children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren.”

The other side of the story is a community who embraced a challenge. Who saw an opportunity and grabbed hold of it. A community of individuals, who chose to let their lives be affected by an innocent girl. Through them she lived her dream. Through them, she fulfilled her self-proclaimed purpose. In a far greater way than she ever could have imagined. A community who set an example and who found strength within themselves that they never thought possible. I am just an outsider who had a brief glimpse into what happened last summer, yet we have strong feelings of הכרת הטוב for all that had been done for us and especially to the Sh’or Yoshuv Kehilla and the greater Far Rockaway / Five Towns Community. Anyone who was involved will attest to the unprecedented אחדות from last summer.

I am aware of a number of people who continue to allow Nechama to influence their lives. There are individuals who are learning משניות with the intention of finishingמשנה all סידרי ששה. For some of them, it is the first time that they have learnt in years. There is a couple that learns together each night in Nechama's memory. There is a family who keeps a picture of Nechama on their refrigerator to remind them of what is important in life. Last summer, someone started saying an extra פרק of תהילים each day and continued even after Nechama passed away. There are at least 3 Gemachs created in her memory all revolved around בשמחה . And of course, the hall named for Nechama as "Ateres Nechama Liba". I am sure that the list expands on and on. All for a young girl who somehow touched their lives.

We need to look fear in the face. We need to look grief in the face. That means that we must continue to say תהילים, to learn and do מצוות . The list of חולים continues to grow. We can

make a difference. Like the ניפטרת, who didn't waver when she knew what the end would be. It only made her stronger. We can make a world of a difference in someone’s life just by opening a תהילים, making a phone call, offering to baby-sit or go shopping. One might start a חבורה or designate a shiur or give some צדקה in the זכות of a רפואה שלימה . The next time we are faced with a challenge and we remain בשמחה, we are allowing ourselves to be affected by Nechama Liba. It doesn't take much to see that there are people who need us, we just need to open our eyes to what is around us.


Blogger AMSHINOVER said...

massive kiddush hashem

6:18 PM  

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My Goal is to post at least 2x per week on Sunday and Wednesday.