May Her Name Be a Blessing

3 Sep

I had a shock today. I think many of us did.

On the news yesterday I saw that three people were murdered in South Kansas City. In an area where many retired people live. I knew exactly the spot as someone I knew lived there.

And then today I found out that she was one of the people murdered. I am in shock. For me writing is a way to deal with emotions. So I need to write about her.

 

We only meet about five years ago.   She became active in National Council of Jewish Women, Greater Kansas City Section.   And we began working together on committees. She was very interested in two issues important to me, interfaith relations and the issue of ‘chained’ women, agunot, Jewish women who could not get a religious divorce. So we began working on these issues together.

When we met, we realized that our lives had touched once before we met.   I had replaced her as a speaker at an interfaith event when she was ill. She was supposed to speak about Judaism. Since I was at the event with my daughter, I was asked to fill in.

Later, when we met, it was this incident that gave us something in common. It was where we found our commonality. She also had a strong belief in interfaith communication and cooperation.

Besides our NCJW connection, I once interviewed her husband (for the Jewish Chronicle) when he received a wonderful award from the synagogue they belonged to. The three of us sat together in their dining room while I interviewed the two of them. He wanted her there. They were so close. He had prepared a small feast of Middle Eastern finger foods. It was hard to type, interview and eat. But that is what I had to do that day. Luckily they both loved the article when it was published.

This past March, I drove her to the National Council of Jewish Women Convention in St. Louis. We had spent five hours driving there and five hours driving home together, besides the four days at the convention. You learn a lot about someone when you spend so much time alone together.

In the car we talked about our families. She was very proud of her nephews. And spoke about them as I spoke about my children. We talked about interfaith, as we would soon be having, our interfaith event.   We had combined learning about different religions and the issue of divorce in these religions: Judaism, Catholicism and Islam. As these three religions had different and definite rules on divorce. It turned out to be a wonderful panel discussion. And she was one of the panalists.

We talked about her mother, who was ill. And I talked about the death of my parents. Her mother died just a month ago. I know it was hard for her.

I took her to her home and parked in the driveway. I pulled out her suitcase. And her husband came to get it. And I left them.

A few days later, they both showed up at my house. He had made Hamantaschen for Purim. And they wanted me to have some as a thank you and because the holiday was soon. It is tradition to bring snacks, ‘shaloch manot,” for Purim.

I last saw her last week. We met by chance in a women’s clothing store. I feeling blue about something. She was out shopping for the first time since her Mom had passed. I had been out of town when her Mom died, so had not been at the funeral or paid a visit.

We talked about NCJW and when she would get back to volunteering. I told her everyone understood.   It is difficult to lose your mother. When she was ready it was time enough.

We showed each other what we were trying on. She had on a long black skirt, with lace and tiers, very her, and a black and white top.   She asked my opinion. I said I liked both pieces, but not together. She told me I was wrong.  And that was okay because we are both opinionated and strong willed women.

I knew she was back to herself. I smiled and said, Okay. To each their own style.

And now I feel sad.  I do not think she ever wore the new outfit she had tried on.  I see her in my mind twirling the long black skirt for me.

She will never volunteer again.

I am shocked.

Baruck Dayan haEmet, May her Name be for a blessing.

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2 Responses to “May Her Name Be a Blessing”

  1. Roseann Copeland September 4, 2014 at 3:13 pm #

    My dear Ellen, when I heard this on the news yesterday I had the feeling you would know one of the victims and my feelings were right. Again another sad situation to grieve, mourn and pray about. My heart aches for you my friend and for these families. We are living in such evil times. My love and prayers go out to all! We will visit soon. I work tonight till 10:00. I don’t think I will go in the morning. You could send me details, maybe I will.
    Thanks to your encouragement when I was feeling discouraged yesterday a.m. I got started on Starla’s family portrait. It was very cathartic. How can I lift you up dear friend? You have personally been through so much grief. Hugs!

    • zicharon September 4, 2014 at 3:24 pm #

      Thank you Roseann, It has been a shock. We will walk and talk when it gets cooler.

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