These past six weeks have been a crash-course in learning about what the word “community” really means.
When I got the call that my brother had died, I was at a Hadassah meeting. Within seconds of walking back into the room with a shocked look on my face, I was surrounded by women. Hugging me. Kissing my head. Offering to drive me home. Asking me, “What can I do?”
Since then, the prayers, calls, texts, cards, letters, and multitude of hugs from the many Jewish women in my life has been shocking in the best possible way.
When my father passed, I had just completed my conversion and joined the temple so we didn’t really know anyone. A year later, I’m involved in the community, sit on the WRJ Sisterhood board, and I know people. And the outpouring of love has really thrown me for a loop.
This is what community feels like. The care and concern, the shared tears, the expressions of condolences and love – it’s not something I’m used to, even having grown up in a religious environment and having belonged to various churches for the majority of my adult life.
All of this has made the passing of my brother easier to endure as I’m not alone. Talking about the tragedy of his life and his death have helped me to begin the healing process. It’s made me stronger, which is what I need because I’m trying to be strong for my mom. The Jewish community as a whole is helping to carry my grief, lightening my load. I’ve learned that even in the deepest pits of despair, where I often have been these past six weeks, I’m still very much blessed.