Oz Avraham 'Finishing' a Tractate a few months agoOn the Shabbat before Passover my whole family all my children and grandchildren were in Mitzpe Ramon where we enjoyed each other's company and had our meals together in a local guest house, so that no one had to interrupt their Pesach preparations to cook and we didn't get any new chametz in any one's house. A lovely time was had by all. On Saturday night we all gathered together to mark my father's eleventh yahrtzeit (anniversary really, but it sounds so much more appropriate in Yiddish).
A traditional way of commemorating a yahrtzeit is by making a siyyum. studying a book or a tractate (of Talmud or Mishna) and gathering a minyan, reciting the last sentences of the book, teaching the meaning of that section and then reciting a formula in which the one who learned acknowledges that he has finished learning the section and promises to return to learn it once again. A special kaddish is recited.
David did a siyyum marking the culmination of his studying a tractate of Jerusalem Talmud. (Hopefully, he will write about that himself.)
My first-born son and his first-born son (named after my father) learned a tractate of mishna together in time to do a siyyum too. So we had three generations participating. I felt particularly blessed that we were able to be together and remember my father. Both David and I spoke about him and I explained to my family the significance of the direct descendants of the deceased doing mitzvot especially (but of course not exclusively) on his yahrtzeit. (I explained it here but my kids don't really like reading in English.)
My father, Abraham Rich was the son of hard working Jewish immigrants, educated in New York City's publics schools and also in the traditional Jewish synagogue after school program, where he learned to read Hebrew for prayers and prepared for his bar mitzvah. Richmond Hill was a warm community, I know that because it was my first synagogue experience too, and my father's teacher, Mrs. Tombeck, taught me the ins and outs of shabbat prayers. I have been told he was known as 'honest Abe' and I know that he always believed in fairness and equality.
|I remember my father only with a mustache|
|This is the Saba my kids knew|
My father became an active member of a number of shuls and was gabbai for a while. He was not the gabbai concerned with giving out the honors, he was the gabbai who had the key. You could rely on him to get there first and set things up. And of course, tell people to keep quiet during the service.
|Savta & Saba|
I always felt secure in my home and with my family. Whether it was at the beach with the waves crashing around us or climbing the stairs to the crown of the Statue of Liberty I aways felt safe and secure when my father and mother were around. I am also grateful for the encouragement and understanding shown for my Zionist activities and later when I came to Israel. He was a very creative grandparent and overcame language difficulties to create a lovely relationship with our children.
May his memory be a blessing to us all.
יהי זכרו ברוך