We have the honor of finishing the Book of Genesis this week. As the story unfolds, our patriarch, Jacob, dies at the age of 127. It is a sad moment in Jewish history and, yet, the death is not presented as tragic. Jacob is surrounded by all of his sons (why Dina is not present might be a good topic for another day), and his has time to say an appropriate farewell.
It is fitting that we read this Parasha this week at the same time that the JCC has lost one its matriarchs, Rosie Starr. Rosie will be missed for her strength, good nature, wit, and her ability to get things done. Under her direction, the JCC's sisterhood operated flawlessly, annually running events, programs, and providing food that helped to put the JCC on the map of LBI. What a blessing she has always been.
In the brief time that I knew Rosie, I learned several important lessons from her. First, she always recalled her past with fondness. Often when folks reflect on their lives, they do so with some bitterness. Rosie never did this. A visit with Rosie always included her happily reminiscing about her childhood, her family, or the JCC. Secondly, she clearly always felt that it was necessary to help others but, at the same time, she always reminded me, or other visitors, to "take care of yourself also". The third thing she taught me was the importance of being a part of a community and keeping it strong.
Each of these lessons, if followed, will have a positive impact on my life. I would love folks to reach out to me and share something that Rosie taught you.
I would like to note a little piece from the book of proverbs (20:27) that I think applies to Rosie, her life, and her legacy. Therein it says: "The human spirit is the light of God". I have learned that within each of us, God implants a divine spark. Each of us has the obligation to tend this spark and fan it into a flame that will light up one's own life and the lives of others. A lit candle can be snuffed out, or it can burn out, or it can kindle other candles. When the flame is passed on to others, the flame will continue to burn long after the original candle has been extinguished.
Rosie lit many candles. Whether it is through her family, her friends, or her JCC community, her flame will continue to burn. She will be missed, but her memory will always be for a blessing.
May all who loved her in life be consoled by the Holy One Who brings consolation to all of the mourners of Israel. Amen.
Shabbat Shalom - Rabbi Michael S. Jay
ROAMING RABBI THIS TUESDAY, JANUARY 17TH
3:30 - 4:30 PM
I will be at Acme on the Island to greet and chat with folks. Please stop in to say hi.