Moving Forward

Rabbi David A. Spey
June has traditionally been seen as a month of opportunity.  It marks the end of school, the beginning of the long, slow days of summer.  In June, we experience the longest daylight hours and the first of the seasonal harvests.  It is usually seen as a bright and happy, optimistic month.  However, for our country, our community, and my family, this June has been marked by loss and grief.
Having grown up in New Jersey, Senator Frank Lautenberg was my Senator.  His legislative accomplishments are only surpassed by the good name and reputation that he leaves behind.  A self-made man, Sen. Lautenberg never forgot his roots, nor a name, nor a face.  He treated all well, being more interested in the person with whom he interacted than the title or position they held.  As well, he was always a proud Jew and active in synagogue life.  His loss will be keenly felt by all, but by none more keenly than by our member and friend Lisa Birer, Sen. Lautenberg’s daughter, and her family. 
Within our synagogue community, June saw the passing of Arthur Kahn.  For many years, Arthur was an essential fixture in our Temple Bat Yam community.  He served as President of our Board of Trustees twice, and held the office of Executive Vice President for many years, overseeing the day-to-day operations of our synagogue.  While never hesitating to voice his opinion with regard to synagogue matters, he did so only with the sincerest concern for our community’s welfare.  It has been said that Arthur knew every nail in the wall of our building and every member of our community.  Arthur’s counsel and presence will surely be missed.
In my own family, Dara’s grandmother lost her three-year battle with cancer.  She died peacefully at Dara’s parents’ home in New York, surrounded by family.  While this end is as it should have been, it does not make the loss easier to bear.  Gloria was truly the matriarch of the family, having endured unimaginable tragedy during her own life to raise a vibrant family of her own.  My family has been fortunate to have been able to have four generations spend so much time together and to get to know each other so intimately. 
I recap the losses experienced by our nation, our community, and my family to do honor to these people, but more importantly, to note the important role that death plays in life.  We learn from our mourning rituals, “All that lives must die.  We share it with all who have ever been.”  While the death of loved ones tears the very fabric of our souls, intellectually we must recognize the necessity.  For the cycle of life to continue, we need others to fill the roles now left vacant.  We do not expect them to reproduce the actions and decisions of those who came before, but rather to fill these roles in their own ways, to innovate, and to carry us into an ever-improving world.  Let us do honor to the memory of those who we mourn, by ever improving the world around us.
I speak for my family and for all who mourn as I thank you all for your support during this trying time.  Your words and your presence has given us all comfort and solace.

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