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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Part II: Somewhere Over the Rainbow in the Winds of Texas


Amelia Samet Kornfeld Memorial at CYJ
Thought for the day: For today's post, you will need a foreign language lesson. Hebrew, the language of the Bible, is a very rich language. I'd like to teach you two words. Many words in Hebrew have multiple meanings leading to endless interpretations of the Bible. Most people know that the word "Shalom" means peace, but it also means hello & goodbye. Perhaps this came about from wishing that people would go in peace & welcoming them with peace on their arrival. The second word I'd like to teach you today is "ruach" (pronounced with 2 syllables, rou - ach). It has four meanings. The 1st meaning is "wind." "Matzav ruach" mean mood with the additional word "matzav" or condition. Moods can change like the wind. In addition, it means two kinds of spirit: 1) the spirit as in "excitement" or "enthusiasm" & 2) when used as "ruach nefesh" it means a spirit like one's "soul." This meaning probably came from the wind or breath of life. Read on to see how these words can be helpful in dealing with the loss of a loved one.

You may be wondering why I'm teaching you Hebrew. As many of you know from my previous post, I went to Texas to visit my summer home-away-from-home at Camp Young Judaea in Wimberley Texas. What I did not mention in the earlier post is that going to camp was a family affair for me. My older brothers, Bill & Larry, went to camp for two years before I was allowed to attend. I was so envious of what I saw on visitors day that I begged to be allowed to attend. My 1st session at camp was the summer before my 8th birthday.  When my younger brother, Mike, was old enough, he too joined us at camp.

As I said in my last post, there was tremendous excitement about being at camp. It was not a tornado like in the Wizard of Oz, but I always felt swept away by the excitement. Whether it was music, dance, arts & crafts, there was the joy & excitement kind of ruach. They taught us Hebrew words at camp. A stand up comic at last weekend's reunion pointed out that we actually learned a lot of nouns. Although we really did not know how to connect the nouns, we thought we knew how to speak Hebrew. Unlike Hebrew school, at camp we loved learning the language, which seemed to come alive at camp. When I visited a sister camp in New York, Tel Yehudah,  several years ago. I was swept away by the ruach or spirit as well. What impressed me was to see teenagers excited about their heritage. The ruach lives on.

As I prepared to visit camp, however, I carried bittersweet sad moods as well.  This time two of my brothers were not able to come to the reunion. Bill passed away many years ago in his prime, as he was completing his Doctoral Degree. Larry, lost a battle with brain cancer less than a year ago. My friend Amelia, also was not there having lost a battle with brain cancer a little over a year ago. I had mixed feelings about being at camp without them there. However, I think my brothers & Amelia were there through the fourth kind of ruach, that of the spirit of their souls.

                                       Dori, Seth & Alyse  Dedication Ceremony at CYJ TX

Saturday was a windy day, but Sunday was a warm sunny day. On Sunday, there was a dedication ceremony of the memorial to my friend, Amelia. Her three, amazing adult children spoke about their mother & the significance of the interactive exercise equipment & walking path at the camp in her memory. As they spoke, children played on the equipment. We all knew that was something Amelia would have been thrilled to see. There was not a dry eye in the crowd that gathered to honor her memory. Somehow, as the Texas sun shined upon us, it felt as if she & my brothers were there with me, Mike & all of our friends who knew & loved them.  It was not the same, but it helped to acknowledge our sadness, in the midst of a joyous occasion. Their spirit will always be in the warm Texas winds, in the excitement & joy that camp provides it's campers & in my heart & soul.

If you have lost someone dear to you, hold on to their "ruach" & they will never be far from your heart. In time, you will be able to remember them with less sadness. I hope that when you hold on to their "ruach" that it bring you "shalom" as you carry your dreams & keep their memory alive.

As always feel free to share your stories of how remembering someone who has passed away before a holiday or joyous occasion has helped you process a loss. In my next posts I will relate the story of a war veteran I met on my way home from camp & ask for your help in giving back to a guidance counselor from Bellaire High School.

One of the versions of my book benefits The Amelia Samet Kornfeld Memorialat CYJ Texas. If you would like to purchase the book & donate to CYJ TX in Amelia's memory, you can find it on Amazon here.
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