I guess I am closing in on the age when people around me start dying off. When I was younger these people already seemed old, now that I reached their age that seemed so ancient to me not so long ago, I find myself attending funerals more often than I’d like. And this is just the sad beginning, many of my relatives and relatives of my few friends are in their 70s, 80s and 90s. As the new immigrants these are the people who will be the first in their families to be buried in the New Country. They had the courage to leave everything, including many generations of their ancestors buried in the old Motherland, and they will be the first to be laid to rest here. And we, the younger generation, will be the first to have our loved ones separated by the ocean, the old gravestones there will eventually be forgotten after we are gone.
The people we are losing now had truly legendary lives: they were born in the young new country, they fought in the war, they came home to rebuild, they raised their kids, they lived, they loved, they suffered, lost friends and relatives, lived through lies and propaganda, managed with very little and lived to see their children and especially grandchildren prosper in this country. Their eulogies will be said in the language they don’t understand, and Rabbi will pray to God they were taught didn’t exist. The Rabbi will talk about their lives, struggling to pronounce their names and places they lived in, knowing that most of the mourners do not understand a word of Hebrew, but still love the sound of it and a feeling that the same exact words were said for millions of people for thousands of years, for a moment bringing them in touch with all the generations before them.
Brown dirt frozen
With millions of tears
Photo: Rose Hill Cemetery, Kansas City, MO