Sunday, January 31, 2010

an Unforgettable Shabbat

[Since Robert's brother, Michael was staying with their father in the hospice home, Robert and one of his other brothers, Steve, came home for Shabbat for some desperately needed rest.]

Friday night it started snowing. Uncle Steve (Robert's brother) turned around at the window suddenly and said "hey! It's snowing!". Everyone was so excited, all the tried, droopy faces perked up instantaneously.

Then they all went out. At 7:30 pm. These Israeli children who have never experienced snow were *astounded*. And of course, we had no snow boots or gloves. We are desert dwellers!
So, we put plastic bags over shoes, and socks on little hands, and out they went! [notice the use of they here, excluding myself-- who grew up with lots & lots of snow and was happy to live it vicariously].

Night time, beautiful snow fall, four children playing on a wooden deck settled in a yard full of tall, bare trees. Trees that now have thin snow piles on each limb. It was just an amazing sight.

The next morning (Shabbat morning) the kids were up at 5:30 AM. Jet lag wins again.
By the time I came downstairs, Robert already had bundled up the kids and bagged-up their feet to play outside again. This is before the crack of dawn, mind you. (Oh- and it is Tu B'shvat- the holiday of the trees. In Israel, it is a time to plant trees and gardens. It is *warm* there!)

Then back inside, dry clothes, and breakfast. The day was well underway and it was only 6:30 AM.

Afternoon-- kiddush and Shabbat lunch (which had partly been prepared by a good family friend here), then outside again. More bags. It was so wonderful!! We all went this time- all of us and uncle Steve, too. We went on a little walk. It was quiet and crisp, and the snow was crunching underfoot. I know this seems so kitchy and poetic, but it is really true! And I hadn't seen or experienced snow in so long, it *was* special even for me, this seasoned New York & New Englander.

We returned invigorated, chilled, damp, and satisfied. The rest of the afternoon was spent reading books out loud snuggled under blankets, and playing games.
Picturesque, really.

The end of Shabbat came, and with it, a phone call.

He's passed on.

I am typing from his computer now. Everything in this house suddenly seems free-floating.

He'll be buried in New York, next to his beloved wife.
But the airport is shut down because of the snow, so things might take a day or two.
We'll go to New York soon, there are so many details to work out.
I will probably come back to Israel without Robert- he'll have to sit shiva with his brothers in New York.

We all said good-bye to Dolph in our own loving ways. It was truly right, if death is ever in the "right" category. He got to see his children, grand children, and he made a point of asking me how I am. Apparently he had asked repeatedly about how I am-- every time he woke up out of his coma, he wanted to know three things: where is he, what happened, and how is Sarah. Amazing. When I saw him on Thursday, he asked how I am, and I got to tell him that I am good- that there is no more disease in my hip. He smiled with his eyes shut contentedly.

The news came and [two of] the children cried. Later, I cried.

And now I think I am out of poetics for tonight.

It was definitely an unforgettable Shabbat.


  1. I am so glad that both your family and Rivka and Steve and the kids got to see and be with Dolph before he died. That is so beautiful, and truly a blessing, at such a sad time. And I'm so glad that your kids got to enjoy such beautiful and fun snow at such a sad time. Sending love to everyone.

  2. Sarah and Robert,
    We are so sad to hear the news of Dolph's passing. How amazing that he waited for you to be with him, that you were able to express and show him your love and respect.
    Baruch Dayan Emet.
    Love, Miriam and Jeff

  3. Any words that we write on this end can only pale in contrast with your intense, moving, life-affirming message. It is truly wonderful that you were able to fulfill Dolph's expressed last wish to be surrounded by his children and grandchildren before moving on to the next world. May you all be comforted with the knowledge that there are so many people who care for you so deeply and share with you the loss of such a wonderful, bright and loving man. May Dolph's soul find eternal rest with his beloved wife and ancestors and may your family have only positive memories of him.

    All our love,
    Jeff, Miriam, Rafi, Liora & Hillel

  4. It is saddening to hear of your loss, knowing how close and dear Dolph was to the entire family. I hope that being able to share some of his last precious moments together will provide an uplifting memory for your family in the years to come. Kol ha'kavod for making this trip.

  5. My thoughts and prayers are with you.

  6. His memory will truly be a blessing for all of us who had the privilege to know him.

    One of my Rabbeim once told a class I was in that one of the ways Judaism understands "life after death" is in how a person affects those around him during his lifetime - family, friends, colleagues, etc. When others pass on a person's traits, love, knowledge, etc. to those around THEM, who in turn pass it on even further, a part of the person continues to live on forever.

    Dolph - and Naomi, will always be missed, but the far-reaching effects of what truly wonderful people they both were will stay in this world for many generations.

    All of our love,
    Sharon and Asher