Wednesday, March 16, 2011

16 Years of Kindness

The oldest orphan in the Fogel family, you have probably heard, is Tamar, the 12-year-old girl who found her parents, two brothers and sister murdered, and found two remaining brothers safe. The youngest of the orphans is only 2 years old.

Shiva is the period in which Jews sit and mourn for their immediate loved ones. It is a 7 day period, broken only by the Sabbath, a day on which we do not mourn. Throughout the period, friends and family come to comfort, to speak of the loved ones lost, to remember, to ease the immediate pain, if at all possible.

After the Shiva, the mourning continues, in degrees. First there is the Shloshim - the 30 days. The restrictions of the Shiva period are intense. You sit on low chairs, a sign of mourning. You wear a shirt torn in grief, and for the most part, you do not leave your house. The Shloshim represent an easing of many of the earlier restrictions, but still you grieve. You leave your home and return to work, but you do not attend parties and happy events, and there are other rules you follow as well.

After the Shloshim, for the first year, there are still other rules and laws. Less than the Shloshim, but still not normal. Still you do not attend parties, nor do you give or receive certain gifts. The grieving stays with you, forcing you to deal with your loss.

With each easing of the restrictions, in some way, the grief is eased as well and you learn you can live, laugh, survive. It is a most Divine, ordained method for human grieving - brilliant as only God can be. The restrictions become a burden towards the end of the period. You long to leave your home, you yearn to join with others. So, as the period comes to move to the next stage of mourning and recovery, the easing of the restrictions encourages healing.

For now, the Fogel family is sitting Shiva, the hardest, most intense part of the mourning. People come to visit and usually, food is put out somewhere. Some people spend hours sitting and talking - and many try to encourage the family to eat something. You talk of the loved ones, you see pictures. People come and tell you stories you had never heard before about how special they were. Your heart breaks a thousand times, and then a thousand times more.

Quietly, over the last few days, a man has been coming to the house bringing food and stocking the kitchen. His name is Rami Levy and he owns a chain of supermarkets. I've heard amazing stories about him in the past but this one beats all I have ever heard.

Every day, Rami Levi comes by the shiva house to the Fogel family and fills the cupboards and refrigerator himself with food for the family and guests. Today, one of the relatives thanked him for this incredible kindness and his response brought me to tears,"You will get used to my face," he told this family in mourning, "I have committed myself that every week I will deliver food and stock your home until the youngest orphan turns 18 years old."

The youngest orphan of this tragedy is a young 2 year old boy who woke in the night and ran to his parents. Thankfully, by then, the terrorists had left, leaving a scene of unimaginable horror behind. The little boy ran to his parents and began to shake them, trying to wake them. His sister and a neighbor found him there, crying.

What Rami Levy has done is commit to 16 years of kindness. If this was a week in which the Palestinians should be ashamed, and it was, than this is a week in which we Jews have the right to be so proud.

8 comments:

Shaina said...

Amazing man.

Long-time RN said...

Our hearts break for the survivors of this family. Such grace, strength and love from this young girl. The world needs more people as Rami Levy.

jan said...

What a mensch...Rami Levy....so inspiring to read about this Mitzvah!

brat said...

Out of this incredible horror comes such a beautiful gesture, a commitment to life. God Bless Rami Levy.

ProphetJoe said...

God bless him and the orphans...

denis said...

Amazing and inspiring man. May we all try to emulate this example of true jewish ways.

Yitzchak Micha'el said...

Everytime I read this story of Rami Levi's kindness and commitment it makes me proud that chose to become a Jew and tears fill my eyes.
Aam Yisrael Hai,
Yitzchak Micha'el

A Soldier's Mother said...

I agree - just this week, I was on my way to Rami Levy with Elie and he said that had Rami Levy said he would provide the children with food for a year or two, people still would have been amazed and thought him generous. What makes this so special is that he went so far beyond what people would have expected. Yes, I get choked up every time I think of this or mention it and I shop so much more proudly at Rami Levy now after this.

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