Anecdotes for Lexie Rose
Jonathan and Esther Pollard
Justice4JPnews Special Feature - July 3, 2009 - 11 Tammuz 5769 B"H
Special feature to mark the 4th anniversary of the passing of Rose Zeitz z"l.
Beloved mother of Esther and Jonathan Pollard.
Beloved great grandmother of Lexie Rose.
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Introduction - Lexie Rose's great uncle Jonathan writes:
Dear Lexie Rose,
Welcome to the family! As the first great grandchild in our family, your entry into the world this spring was an historic milestone!
In honor of your recent arrival, your great auntie Esther and I would like to share some anecdotes with you today. Today, the 11th of Tammuz according the Hebrew calendar, is a special day. It marks the 4th anniversary of the departure of your great grandmother, Rose, for whom you are named.
Rose was a treasure to us all and we want you to know her too. These anecdotes are about a quiet, soft-spoken, unassuming woman, who we believe, lived a life of greatness and whose model left an indelible impression upon us and upon everyone with whom she came in contact.
Because Rose meant so much to both of us, this document is a joint initiative that your great auntie Esther and I undertook for you and for Rose. To execute this project, we were faced with many challenges. I had to do my part in the face of obvious limitations that prison life imposes upon us and as a result, Auntie Esther had to work even harder for both of us. How ever imperfect the final result may be, we hope it will be clear that we put our hearts into it.
Your great grandmother, whom we will refer to simply as "Baube Rose", was the living embodiment of unconditional love. She was one of those very rare individuals who could always look past the circumstances or external trappings in order to see right through to the heart of a person. She always said quite simply, "People matter, things don't!"
Baube Rose was intuitive and insightful and could always be counted on for the most down-to-earth advice. Even strangers continuously wanted to adopt her as their grandmother and everyone would call her Baube Rose!
This was a woman who always saw the good in every situation and in every person; who lived life fearlessly and always found a solution. I remember when the bathroom ceiling in her duplex sprung multiple leaks and no matter how many times the plumber and the plasterer came to fix it, it would soon spring another leak. On one of these occasions, I asked her, what are you going to do now?
"I'll fix it myself!" she declared.
"How can you do that?" I asked.
"I'll open an umbrella!" she replied.
And she did!
Baube Rose had a tremendous sense of humor and a keen sense of justice. For example she once told me that you should never divide a chocolate cake equally amongst your children. "Why not?" I asked. "Because not all of them may like chocolate!" she replied.
She told me that when her own children were young, they would ask her, who is your favorite child; which one do you love best? In response, she would hold out her hand and spread her fingers wide and declare, "That's like asking me which one of my fingers I love best! Is there one that is less important than the others? Is there one that I can spare? Of course not! I love them all!"
We have chosen a few of our favorite anecdotes to share with you about Baube Rose and the stories follow below. In the first episode, you will learn about your great grandmother's reaction to a gift she received and how she treasured it forever, in spite of what it looked like! In the next story, Baube Rose uses an old umbrella to teach us all the meaning of chessed (acts of loving-kindness); and in the final anecdote Baube Rose teaches us about the true meaning of hachnassat orchim (home hospitality). We chose these anecdotes just to whet your appetite to learn more about this remarkable woman, your great grandmother, your Baube Rose!
I took my turn by writing this introductory note; now it is your great auntie Esther's turn to tell a story. I will continue where she leaves off. Enjoy!
Your Great Uncle Jonathan
Part I - Lexie Rose's great auntie Esther writes:
This is a story about a white elephant and about your great grandmother, Baube Rose, whose real name was Rose Bernice Caron. When she married your great grandfather, she took the family name Zeitz (just like yours!) Today, we pray for her soul using her Jewish name, Rayzl Bracha bat Lipa.
Forgive me Lexie Rose, if the way I write is a little more than you can handle at this time, but we hope that our stories will stay with you for a long, long time, just like the ring that your great grandmother and great grandfather gave me for my 16th birthday.
At my parents' request, on the eve of my 16th birthday, I travelled downtown to choose my birthday gift from the big tray of rings that our cousin (the jeweler) had set down in front of me. Beaming and overjoyed, I brought the ring of my choice home for my parents' approval and they rejected it out of hand!
Baube Rose declared, "This ring is absolutely not suitable for a child of 16! It is meant for a grown woman, not for a child of 16!"
I was devastated! It was a beautiful ring! It had 19 small sapphires in a tiered, ribbon-like, perfectly symmetrical design and it was EXACTLY what I wanted! I begged and pleaded with my parents to be allowed to keep it.
I guess that I was so insistent that Baube Rose agreed to give the matter a little more thought. To her great credit, after thinking it over, she realized I won't always be16 years old and that in time, I would grow into it. So she relented and I was allowed to keep the ring of my choice, provided that I promised to wear it only on special occasions (with her permission, of course) until I would be grown up. Time goes by so quickly - as we all discovered - indeed, so quickly that I don't remember ever having to ask permission to wear it. I still have the ring after all these years and I still love it!
So it is with these anecdotes that great uncle Jonathan and I are assembling for you. Time passes quickly. By the time you are old enough to really want to know about the great grandmother you are named for, G-d willing, you will be old enough to read the stories and understand them too. So without any further delay, let's get started:
As I mentioned, this first story is about an elephant. It is a true story. If you don't believe me, you can ask your great auntie Laura, or our brothers, Steven and Michael (your great uncles) or our oldest brother, Marvin (who is your grandfather!) Your great uncle Jonathan loves this story and has heard it countless times. Everyone in our family knows this story. Not everyone can recall exactly how it began, but they all know how it ended.
This story begins in the city of Montreal, where the elephant was bought some time well before my 8th birthday. How do I know how to date it? Because our family moved from Montreal to the suburbs when I was 7 years old and the elephant moved with us.
Now, this was not just any old elephant! This was a dazzling, shiny, white-glazed porcelain elephant, replete with ivory tusks, standing about 6 inches tall. I first saw the elephant in the local Kressge's storefront window, in the Van Horne Shopping Center in mid-town Montreal. I thought this elephant figurine was just the most beautiful thing I had ever seen! Sunlight streaming through the window acted like a prism, casting colorful rainbows on the elephant's glazed porcelain finish. I was thoroughly enchanted by its trumpeting trunk and billowing ears, shiny white glaze, and all the colorful rainbows dancing on its hide!
From the first time I laid eyes on it, I knew that I wanted this china elephant as a gift for my mother, your great grandmother, Baube Rose. I knew that she too would love it just as much as I did, maybe even more.
The price was clearly marked on a card in the window, right next to the elephant. It was rather steep for a child of six or seven: 98 cents! This was a veritable fortune in a day and age when a dollar might be a substantial part of the grocery money for the week. But at that tender age, I was undaunted by the price and determined that I would save every penny I got until I had enough money to buy the elephant for my mother.
I immediately undertook an austerity budget. Over the next weeks and months, instead of buying penny candy or ice cream when we kids were given the money for a treat, I saved my pennies and dropped them into a little glass Gerber baby food jar with a slot punched in the lid. Every now and then, when we got a few pennies for allowance, the pennies went into the savings jar as well.
I counted and recounted my pennies. For a long time there always seemed to be such a long way to go to reach the sum of 98 cents. I don't recall now how long it took, - it has been so many years - but while my penny pile was growing, every now and then I would walk past Kressge's display window to visit the white elephant and I would dream of the day that I would finally be able to buy it and bring it home.
Finally the great day came! Total penny count: exactly 98 cents!
I remember that this was my "secret mission" to go and buy the elephant for Baube Rose. I did not ask for permission to go the shopping center and I certainly did not tell anyone that I was going to Kressge's. How I got away with that, at my young age, I really don't recall. Perhaps it was on the way home from school that I carried out my "secret mission" so no one had the opportunity to realize that I was gone.
I vividly remember pushing the glass door of Kressge's open and walking into the store, clutching my 98 cents. I remember pointing to the desired item and the saleslady taking, what I thought was a breath-takingly beautiful white elephant, out of the window for me. I handed her the money and got the shock of my life, when the saleslady informed me that it wasn't enough!
I protested, "But that can't be! The elephant costs 98 cents and I just gave you 98 cents!"
The saleslady just frowned.
"I counted it and counted it and counted it," I insisted, "and it always came out to 98 cents!"
"Now see here, little girl," said the saleslady, "you are correct, you did give me 98 cents and that is the price of the elephant, but my dear, there is also provincial sales tax, and that brings the price of your purchase up to one dollar and two cents. I am sorry but I have to charge you the sales tax. Do you have any more money in your pocket?"
I slowly shook my head from side to side, my eyes very wide, "No, I don't have any more money at all. This is all the money I have!"
I was ready to cry. I bit my lip, to hold back the tears, I'm a big girl and I don't cry. But what is this "sales tacks" stuff? I had never heard of "sales tacks" before! It seemed totally unfair to tack on "sales tacks" to the price like someone was trying to fool you on purpose, saying one price and then when you want to buy, changing the price!
"Where is your mother?" the saleslady asked in a kind voice. "Perhaps she can help you out with the extra change. Is your mother outside? Can you go and get her?"
Again I shook my head, "No, my mother is not outside! And my mother can't help me! She doesn't even know I am here now!"
Wary now, the saleslady demanded, "What do you mean, your mother doesn't know you are here?!"
"This is supposed to be a surprise!" I blurted out. "This elephant is a surprise for my mother! I saved all of my money for soooo long to buy it for her as a surprise!"
The kindly saleslady smiled. She seemed relieved and was apparently touched by my deep desire to buy this elephant for my mother and to surprise her. She stepped into the rescue, right in the nick of time.
"Well," she said, "I am not sure if there is "sales tacks" on a surprise that is bought for a mother, so let's not worry about it. The 98 cents is fine. The elephant is yours. Would you like me to wrap it for your mother?"
Words cannot describe the contentment and the joy I felt as I walked out of Kressge's, hugging the purple-blue cardboard gift box stuffed with tissue paper which cradled the white porcelain elephant inside.
I marched home, triumphant! Just as soon as I got in the door, I handed the square purple-blue gift box to my mother, your great grandmother Baube Rose, who was, indeed, very surprised!
It wasn't her birthday. It wasn't mother's day. It was just a surprise for a beloved mother on an ordinary day - a beautiful white elephant, with rainbows dancing on his hide and long, lovely white tusks.
Baube Rose loved the elephant! Just as I had thought, she loved it as much as I did, and maybe more! I knew then and there that it had been worth all the saving and waiting and even the problem with "sales tacks!"
I know, Lexie Rose, you think that that is where the story ends. But no, it continues. It continues for years and years.
For as many years as I can remember, Baube Rose cherished that little white elephant and accorded it the kind of respect and a place of honor usually reserved for the 'pedigrees' made of fine bone china and boasting names like Lladro or Royal Doulton (which she also owned.) Baube Rose treated her 98 cent Kressge's elephant like royalty! I always knew, as I was growing up, that she treated it that way because it was a gift and because I gave it to her, and because loving the elephant was like loving me and Baube Rose loved all of her children. These words were never spoken. In fact, Baube Rose was not much one for verbal displays of affection, but her actions always spoke much louder than words.
The white elephant story takes a tragic turn sometime down the road.
For years and years that white elephant lived in honor in our home. And everyone knew that Baube Rose loved it. Perhaps it is because she loved it so much that the poor little creature one day became a target of someone's temper tantrum or was it a fit of pique. I was not home at the time. Indeed, by that time I no longer lived at home any more. But I do remember coming home to visit sometime after "the tragedy" and finding the broken pieces. The precious white china elephant had been completely shattered!
When I confronted my mother after discovering the broken pieces of her treasured white elephant, Baube Rose was very sad about it. She never blamed anyone. Never accused anyone. Never ever said who did it, though I did ask. She was not one to point a finger, to tale-bear or to blame. She also was never one to hold a grudge. In fact, I might never even have known about the "tragedy" had I not had reason to search for some other lost item in Baube Rose's dresser.
I found the broken pieces of her white elephant in the drawer of Baube Rose's dressing table. Most people, confronted with a shattered piece of china would throw it in the garbage, but not Baube Rose. There were too many memories and too much love attached to this gift; Baube Rose was not going to simply trash it. Although useless as a decoration and no longer beautiful, Baube Rose would never stop loving the little elephant. So she gathered up all the pieces of the elephant into a hanky and tucked it away in the drawer. That is where I eventually found it with all the pieces lovingly wrapped in a hanky.
That little white Kressge's elephant, smashed to pieces, remained in her drawer for years and years and years. So many years, that the pieces were still in the drawer when Baube Rose's youngest child got married and moved out of the house.
The pieces remained there for as long as Baube Rose lived in the house. They were discarded only when we closed down the house years later, after Baube Rose's health forced her to move to a more supportive environment.
That is how Baube Rose taught all of us, but especially me, the biggest lessons about life and love and about gift giving, gratitude, appreciation, acceptance and forgiving and so much more -- not by what she said about this little white elephant but by what she did.
If you read this story again - a few times - and think about it, you will find that Baube Rose is still teaching us through her actions, through the memories she left behind, and even through the shards of a 98 cent white porcelain elephant, lovingly cherished, long after it had no useful function and certainly no beautiful form. If you think about it, Lexie Rose, now Baube Rose is teaching you!
Part II - Lexie Rose's great uncle Jonathan writes:
Lexie Rose, did you like that story? The white elephant is one of my favorites. I have fun imagining your great auntie Esther as a little kid and I like to imagine how she looked when she discovered sales "tacks". I wish that they had not gotten rid of the pieces of that white elephant. I think you and I would have both liked to see them.
You know Lexie Rose, you might be thinking to yourself that it was easy for your great grandmother to keep all the broken pieces of the elephant, after all they were hidden in a drawer and no one else saw them, so who cares if the elephant was ugly once it was all busted up. But that, my young friend, is the whole point. Baube Rose did not care what others thought. She did not keep the pieces because it mattered to anyone else. She kept them because the little white elephant was so precious to her. She did not think about the impression that this act of hers (saving the pieces) would make on her own children, or her grandchildren, or even on you someday. She just did it because she so valued the love that the little elephant represented and that is what made it precious, no matter what it looked like.
So now you may be thinking, okay, so she kept a broken china elephant. So what?
And I will answer you.
Your great grandmother, Baube Rose, showed just as much kindness to living beings as she did to an inanimate object like that elephant. Did your grandfather, Marvin, ever tell you about his three-legged dog, Junior? Yes, the one that bit him on the thumb! No, it wasn't the dog's fault. Marvin tried to break up a dog fight between Junior and your Grandmother Debbie's childhood dog, Roggie, and ended up with a bit thumb! Your great auntie Esther told me how Junior was so mortified when Marvin yelped in pain and Junior realized he had bitten his own master that he walked all the way home with his head down and tail tucked between his legs. Once they got home, Junior did not stop kissing and licking your grandfather, trying to apologize. The point is, Lexie Rose, your grandfather's childhood three - legged dog did not always have three legs. It started out with four. Run over by a motorcycle and dragged until his right front leg was shredded, Junior was an amputee at the ripe old age of 8.
Marvin's mother, your great grandmother, Baube Rose, was advised by a couple of well-meaning busybodies (friends of hers) that her 3 legged dog looks "hideous". That she should get rid of it. Destroy it. Put it to sleep. Who wants to look at a deformed and ugly creature that has 3 legs, they said. But your Baube Rose did not see a deformed, ugly creature. She saw Junior, the family dog, in pain and with only 3 legs. It never dawned on her to get rid of him! With patience and with love, she kept him and Junior lived and loved for another 5 years, with 3 legs and a whole heart!
Or did your father ever tell you about Junior's successor, Rex? Rex was a nervous wreck of a dog that your great uncle Michael brought home just before he moved out of Baube Rose's house. Michael moved out, but Rex remained. Rex was very cute and very loving, but deadly when it came to personal property. Any time Baube Rose left him alone in the house, Rex would get scared. To calm himself down, he chewed things. Rex chewed the wall paper off the walls. He chewed her clothes in the laundry basket. Rex chewed at the insoles of Baube Rose's shoes until they were in shreds - only the good leather ones, mind you. Baube Rose used to joke that his name was 'Rex' because he 'wrecks' things. Think about it, Lexie Rose, would anyone but Baube Rose have kept this loveable nervous wreck of a dog in their house for more than 15 minutes?! Rex lived with Baube Rose for the better part of a decade! Baube Rose never saw the bad in him, only the good.
But really, it is this next anecdote about an umbrella that makes the point. Baube Rose was as loving and kind towards broken people as she was towards broken animals and other shattered memorabilia.
Here is the anecdote about an umbrella.
All of her life, your great grandmother, Baube Rose was a baalat chessed - someone who loves to help other people. When her children were young, she volunteered part of her time to help others. When all of her children were grown and out of the house, she volunteered most of her time in order to help others.
Baube Rose lived in Chomedey, a suburb of Montreal. Much of her volunteer work centered upon the Jewish Rehabilitation Hospital in Chomedey, or "the Rehab" as it was called. I never knew if she was the head of the women's auxiliary at the Rehab or if she just did all the work. Baube Rose was always at the Rehab. I would call on the phone and she would always be just coming from or just going to the Rehab. Running "Meals -on-Wheels" for the elderly and the infirm. Running the hospital's boutique to raise funds. Ensuring that patients and visitors would have whatever they needed at this isolated location. Greeting new patients with "care packages". Doing programming. Chairing meetings. Running errands. Whatever needed to be done at the Rehab, everyone knew that Baube Rose would do it, run it, manage it, fix it, supervise it, and improve it! Baube Rose often told me how hard she and a small group of dedicated volunteers were working to keep the Jewish Rehabilitation hospital Jewish in more than name alone. More than anything else, she wanted the hospital to remain a place where Jews could get the care that they needed in a kosher Jewish environment.
The story about the umbrella happened at the Rehab. Here is how it goes:
It was a rainy day. Baube Rose was on her way to a meeting at the Rehab Hospital wearing a warm jacket and carrying a nice large umbrella to shield her from the rain and the wind. One of the other volunteers was picking her up by car, but the umbrella would still be very useful just walking from the car to the hospital and from the hospital back to the car.
At the hospital, Baube Rose attended her planning meeting and put in some time assisting new patients. By late afternoon, she had put in a full day and was looking forward to going home. Her friend, the driver, told Baube Rose that she would get the car and bring it round to the front entrance, to just wait for her there. Baube Rose put on her warm jacket and took her umbrella and headed to the front entrance. As she was walking across the hall towards the door, an elderly lady blocked her path and grabbed for Baube Rose's umbrella.
The elderly lady began to pull at the umbrella, insisting in great agitation, over and over again: "My umbrella! My umbrella!"
Baube Rose was taken by surprise and for a second or two participated in this tug of war over the umbrella. That just made the elderly lady tug harder while insisting loudly over and over again, "My umbrella!"
"Did you know this woman?" I asked Baube Rose, when she related this story.
"No, I had never seen her before."
"So what did you do?" I asked.
"I let go of the umbrella." said Baube Rose.
"Then what?" I asked.
"Then she took it and I left." replied Baube Rose.
"But it was your umbrella!" countered your great auntie Esther.
"Yes, I know," said Baube Rose.
"So why did you give it to her?"
"Because she needed it more than I did."
"But, don't you want it back?" asked Great Auntie Esther.
"No. I have others." your great grandmother responded.
And that was the end of the story!
Lexie Rose, would you give up your umbrella, or your coat, or your blanket, or your schoolbag or your favorite toy, just because someone else needs it more? Would you have the wisdom to quickly size up the situation, as your great grandmother did in seconds, and to understand that true chessed means giving to a person in need, what they need and when they need it, without question or reservation or hesitation. Baube Rose was like that. She knew instantly that she was dealing with a broken human being. She understood that to heal the person, she ought not to argue, but instead to step into their reality and share it with them. She did that for this elderly lady and gave up her own umbrella in the process. A small price, she would say, to heal another human being, even if only momentarily.
And now it is Great Auntie Esther's turn again.
Part III - Lexie Rose's great auntie Esther writes:
Great Uncle Jonathan's story reminds me of the story of Mr. Barvaz. I don't know where
Mr. Barvaz is today, but perhaps once this story is told, your parents or maybe your grandparents will be able to locate him for you.
Your great grandmother, Baube Rose, was not only a baalat chessed, she also excelled at the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim. Hachnassat orchim is the mitzvah of having guests. Lots of people do it. Few really know the real meaning of this mitzvah, or how to do it with a full heart. But your great grandmother did!
Entertaining guests, having guests, having people sleep over, or inviting company for Shabbat is very nice. But it is not true hachnassat orchim. Not if the people you invite have some other place to stay, or some other place to eat, and you are inviting them because you enjoy having them or they enjoying staying by you. True hachnassat orchim means taking in people who need a place to stay, who have no where else to go, who need the meal that you share with them. Many people today have large homes and full refrigerators but they don't have room for guests. Unless of course, you make an appointment and come on Sunday between 12 and 2 and leave promptly after the coffee and cake is served.
Your great grandmother had a small house and not a lot of money, but she always had room for guests and whatever food was in the refrigerator was always shared with anyone who was hungry. As children, we never had to ask permission in advance if we wanted to ask a friend to stay for supper. Baube Rose always said yes and whatever was in the pot, she just divided it up so that everyone got some. Similarly, people who needed a place to stay overnight always knew that they could count on her. Sometimes guests would come and there really was no room, but they could never tell. Like the time an entire family came from Israel and stayed for more than a week and she gave away her own bed and slept sitting up in a chair (your great grandfather was working the nightshift) and no one knew where she was sleeping or if she was sleeping at all.
When we no longer lived in Montreal, if any of our friends would come from the States or from Israel and needed a place to stay in Montreal, even though we were not there, your great grandmother immediately opened her home and heart and took them in. As she was getting on in years and her health was failing, it was harder and harder for her to do the mitzvah of hachnassat orchim, but she still never refused. And that brings us to the story of Mr. Barvaz.
It was somewhere in the late 1990's. I was in Israel taking care of business for great uncle Jonathan. On my way back to North Carolina, I planned to travel via Montreal to see Baube Rose. Before boarding the plane at Ben Gurion Airport, I went to the duty free shop to buy a gift for Baube Rose. In those days every duty free shop had its own impressive display case filed with Swarovski crystal, the finest Austrian crystal. I chose a most adorable-looking Swarovski crystal duck for Baube Rose - one that I knew she didn't have. She loved to collect Swarovski animals and this duck would be the perfect addition to her collection.
Before boarding, I called Montreal just to let Baube Rose know that all is well and that the plane is on time and I will see her tomorrow (B"H). My sister, your great auntie Laura, was visiting with Baube Rose when I called and she happened to overhear the conversation. Among other things, I told Baube Rose that a friend of ours needs a place to stay in Montreal and we wondering if she would host him when he arrives. "His name," I told her, "is Mr. Barvaz, and he is a lovely guy, no trouble at all. Doesn't eat much, just needs a place to stay", and can he stay with her? "Yes, of course!" she said, "No problem! Just let me know when he is coming and we will be happy to have him!"
Overhearing the conversation, Great Auntie Laura took the phone from Baube Rose and took me to task very soundly - and rightly so! "How can you do this?!" she demanded. "How can you impose on our mother this way? You know she is not well. You know it will be hard for her to look after a guest! Why are you always sending guests to her?!"
I told your great auntie not to worry, that Mr. Barvaz was special and different and that Baube Rose would not be in the least bit taxed by him, but Great Auntie Laura was not convinced. We agreed to leave the discussion for later in Montreal. We said goodbye amiably and she wished me a good, safe trip.
Have you guessed the punch line yet, Lexie Rose? Neither did Baube Rose or Great Auntie Laura, until I showed up in Montreal. As soon as I arrived at Baube Rose's house and we hugged and kissed and greeted each other, I pulled a beautiful gift box out of my bag and handed it to Baube Rose.
"Mom," I said, "I would like you to meet Mr. Barvaz!"
Baube Rose looked at me quizzically, as if to say, where is he?
"This," I said, pointing to the Swarovski crystal box, "is Mr. Barvaz!"
Baube Rose opened the box and had a look at the lovely crystal duck as I quickly added, "Mom, in Hebrew, the word 'barvaz' means 'duck'! This is Mr. Barvaz! Mr. Barvaz not only needs a place to stay, but he would like to live with you forever! Is that okay?"
We all had a good laugh, Great Auntie Laura, Baube Rose and me!
I don't know what happened to Mr. Barvaz, the Swarovski crystal duck. As Baube Rose was winding down her time on earth, she often gave away the things she loved to the ones she loved. She said she wanted to see her loved ones enjoy these things in her lifetime. Is Mr. Barvaz at your house? Did Baube Rose give him to your father? Or perhaps Mr. Barvaz is at your Grandmother Debbie's house? Or maybe at one of your great uncles homes? You can ask them. Or maybe just check out the china cabinet the next time you visit. Now that you know who Mr. Barvaz is, you will know where to find him. And you will also know about the great grandmother for whom you are named, who always opened her home and her heart to anyone who needed a meal or a place to stay -even if it turned out to be a duck!
Now back to your great uncle Jonathan.
Part IV - Lexie Rose's great uncle Jonathan writes:
Lexie Rose, we hope you are starting to see a picture of your great grandmother, your namesake, as a person, not just as a concept or a shadowy stranger.
Our sages say that Jewish greatness and strength of character are most obviously revealed, not in public circumstances or in heroic once-in-a-lifetime actions, but by the small, mundane matters that make up every day life --- especially in the way a person interacts with his family and his loved ones, behind closed doors, when no one is looking. It is in the home, in daily actions and reactions, that is where true greatness will be seen. This is the opposite of the Hollywood stereotype or the Washington stereotype, where people who are adulated publicly often turn out to be simply intolerable at home and beastly towards their loved ones.
What distinguished your great grandmother, more than anything else, was her ability to connect with all people. Baube Rose could put anyone at ease. She could talk to anyone. She could get along with anyone. When she attended Bnai Brith out-of-town conventions or other women's events, she was always asked to room with the women no one else wanted as roommates. And these women always became her friends!
Everybody loved Rose, and I did too. Every year on December 28th, I made a special point of calling Rose to thank her. These calls were a ritual we had and she would wait for my call. You see, Lexie Rose, December 28th is your great auntie Esther's birthday. That is why I would call your great grandmother to thank her for giving birth to my wife and for raising her to be such a wonderful person. Baube Rose always chuckled and said something very simple in response. "You're welcome!" she would say, "it was a pleasure!"
I look at my wife, your great auntie Esther, and I see in her the realization of an old saying, "The apple doesn't fall far from the tree." All of the qualities that I so admired in your great grandmother are there in my wife and in Baube Rose's children and grandchildren. If you want to know who Baube Rose was, all you have to do is to delve into the legacy of love she left behind.
Lexie Rose, we hope to continue with more anecdotes for you some other time. We hope that for now these stories will introduce you to a great grandmother who was a pleasure to know and a delight to learn from. Just as one candle lights another without diminishing its own flame at all, one soul lights another soul without being diminished at all. We see in you a spark of the soul of your great grandmother, Rose, and we are delighted to have that spark back with us here on Earth! May G-d bless you, Lexie Rose, and may you grow to be a credit to her name! May these words that we have written and shared with you today be an elevation for the holy soul of your great grandmother and our beloved mother, Rayzl Bracha bat Lipa, (Rose Bernice Caron Zeitz). On this, the 4th anniversary of her passing, we respectfully conclude with two short prayers from our liturgy:
"The candle of HaShem is the soul of man"
There in Gan Edan may our beloved Rayzl Bracha bat Lipa dwell,
In the lofty heights with the holy and the pure, the righteous and the pious,
Bound in the Bond of Eternal Life.
There, may her holy shadow rest close to HaShem, beneath the Tree of Life.
Behold, in her lifetime she desired only our good,
And in her death may she not forget us in the Eternal Life.
May her merit shield us before You, exalted and uplifted G-d,
That You should transform our mourning to joy and uplift our radiance forever.
Bless us with all blessings, success, goodness and life,
And comfort us with the consolation of Zion.
May her earthly remains repose in their resting place
And may she rise to her portion at the end of days. Amain!
O G-d Full of Mercy, Who dwells on high, grant proper rest on the wings of the Divine Presence
In the lofty levels of the holy and the pure ones, who shine like the glow of the firmament
For the soul of Rayzl Bracha bat Lipa who went on to her world,
Because people are contributing to charity in the memory of her soul.
May her resting place be in the Garden of Eden
Therefore may the Master of Mercy shelter her in the shelter of His wings for eternity;
And may He bind her soul in the Bond of Life.
HaShem is her heritage and may she repose in peace on her resting place.
Now let us respond: Amain!
We hope, dear Lexie Rose that this will someday be as meaningful you to read, as it has been for us to write. We are sending it to you now via your parents. In future, if you ever need to find a copy on your own, it will be waiting for you on the web.
With much love and blessing,
Your great uncle Jonathan and great auntie Esther
PS Lexie Rose, you may also take pleasure learning about your great grandmother by reading the original hesped that we wrote for her when she left the world, "A Rose in the Garden of Eden".
You will find it here.
Bracha v' hatzlacha!