A somber Friday

I stayed home today to be able to attend a funeral, about which
more anon. But while I was home, I had the chance to chat via instant messaging with a colleague in Israel — we started out talking about business issues, but then I asked her how the situation there was affecting her. I was hoping to hear that the news media was exaggerating the situation, but here’s how our conversation went.

her: wanna hear more about how it is in Israel?

me: Yes. I think.

me: All I know is what I read on the JPost’s web site.

her: well… in general, I sort of gave up on listening to the news – I mean many months ago, I stopped. it seems so hopeless. Even though I know for democracy it is important to “know”, it feels that there’s absolutely nothing we can so anymore, not even during elections – they’re all the same….

me: Have you changed your daily routine?

me: Other than not listening to the news, anyway.

her: however, in the last few days, there’s a war feeling here, and so even I (and I’m not the only one) cling to the news

her: well, we definitely avoid going into crowd places, like malls and such

her: we avoid going to Tel-Aviv if we don’t have to

her: we ourselves don’t have much to do in Jerusalem, but people avoid that too

her: and we’re all pretty terrified – I mean people in military reserve, for instance, are used to getting posts to watch, where they can actually take it easy, and so often they are not fully trained for defending themselves (or don’t remember anymore) and suddenly, they’re out there in the open, being shot at, dying everyday…

me: That sounds horrible.

me: It sounds as bad as the JPost makes it seem.

her: well, yes, I guess with the numbers of people dying, and the way they do – helplessly, in situations that seem avoidable – is terrible indeed

me: I was thinking also of the way you have had to restrict yourself to try to avoid being one of the victims.

her: as for the changes in our lives – we hope that’s temporary… but the effect on our way of thinking is more permanent, learning to be less sensitive to survive

me: I can’t imagine what this must be doing to you all.

her: yes….

her: I think I’ll log off soon

her: the news are on….

me: OK. Shabbat Shalom (I hope).

her: :-) bye

me: bye.

A Funeral With an Intermission

A friend’s mother had died while on an Elderhostel trip in San Francisco (she was chatting one moment, and gone the next), and the funeral was this afternoon. It started out as a typical Jewish funeral — the pall-bearers (including me) carried the casket to the graveside, where the family and friends gathered for a short service and eulogy.

Then the funeral director spoke, telling us that they did not yet have clearance to actually bury the body but still had to wait for a fax from the San Francisco Medical Examiner’s office, which was closed for lunch. So we all milled around and talked for a half-hour until the fax arrived; then the casket was lowered and we took turns shovelling in dirt until the casket was covered. Then we recited the Mourner’s Kaddish and formed two lines for the family to walk between, and that was that.

While we were waiting, I asked the Rabbi how often this happened — he said that this was the second time he’d it happen to him. And the funeral director said that it never happened when dealing with the local authorities — but San Francisco was a different story.

It’s always something, as Gilda Radner once said.

Shabbat Shalom!