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Thank You Mommy!

Thursday, 13 December, 2018 - 3:14 pm

What a bright time in Big Sky Country. After celebrating with Jews in fourteen Montana cities, we wrapped up Chanukah with a Menorah lighting downtown with Mayor Cyndy Andrus, who surprised us all when revealing her Jewish roots, followed by an incredible celebration at The Rialto with Ilan Smith, in which we honored Edis Kittrell for her unwavering kindness, Sheriff Brian Gootkin for his commitment to our safety and young Max Goodwin for his devotion to making the Minyan (photo galleries here). It is inspiring when a 15-year-old, growing up in 2018, still sees Judaism as illuminating and recognizes the importance of Jewish continuity.

In this week’s Torah portion, Vayigash, we read about Joseph’s emotional reunion with his eleven brothers. In the process, he introduces them to his sons Efraim and Menashe, who were born and raised by Joseph and Osnas while living in depraved Egypt. Osnas herself was raised by Potifar and his wife, but was the biological daughter of Dina, Jacob’s daughter and Joseph’s half-sister. This power couple didn’t allow the circumstances to dictate the fate of their children, rather amid the G-dless Egyptian environment, they raised two Hebrew-speaking, Jacob-loving, moral-following Jewish kids. Max, like Efraim and Menasha, has a mother, Sarah, who encourages him to embrace Torah and joins him in Shul, watching with Nachas as he gets his Aliyah.

This weekend marks eight years since my beloved mother Chana Leah Bas Reb Shimon passed away. I miss her dearly and the ache in my heart is as painful today, as it was on that freezing December day of 2010. Like many others, during my childhood I experienced extremely challenging moments that necessitated vast amounts of love and care. My parents, my Joseph and Osnas, didn’t surrender to the circumstances, didn’t diminish their hopes for me and didn’t minimize their expectations of me; they helped me embrace my inner potential, didn’t allow me to fall victim to the thorny realities and propelled me to be the Chaim they believed I could be. My mother saw things in me that I didn’t see myself and that is a gift that I thank her for every day.

So, Mommy, please listen closely in heaven! Your five children and their spouses, along with your twenty grandchildren, including five Chana Leah’s named for you, have not forgotten you. We thank G-d every day for the gift of having a mother/Bubby like you. We, your kids, didn’t always do things your way, but we always cherished having a mother who would set us straight, guided us through the dark tunnels of life and wanted us to be happy people. You taught us in your actions as a school teacher how to be kind, especially to those most vulnerable in our society. You showed us while riding the subway how to be a light unto the nations around us. You taught us how to treat family in how you cared for your parents and worshiped your siblings. Ma, when you hugged me, it felt right, it felt like everything was going to be ok and that even when it won’t, you will always have my back and be there for me. I miss your hug, I miss your reassurances, but please know that I send you a virtual hug and will never stop loving my beloved mom who not only gave birth to me back in 81’, but raised to be the Mentsch I strive to be.

A Yiddishe Mame!

May G-d guard our brethren in Israel and the world over from harm and send us Moshiach speedily. May He protect the armed forces of Israel and the United States wherever they may be. Shabbat Shalom! Chazak!!! L'Chaim!!!

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