A Salute To Heschie,
May His Memory Always Be For a Blessing
Whenever Heschie entered the back door of the chapel, he always stopped to offer me a salute as his morning greeting. The room itself may be small, but it has become much larger when I think about those who filled its pews during the twelve years that I have served as the spiritual leader of this community. A couple of shabbatot ago we celebrated the role that the minyannaires have played in maintaining the spiritual component in our kehillah, being there for those who needed to recite Kaddish, and developing a camaraderie that is quite unique. We all knew that we would age over time. However, we never expected death to rob us of our cohesive character. Each of us had our role in the daily service. Even though people have come and gone with the seasons, and with illnesses, we have managed to fill in for one another. However, today we look around and we feel the loss of an individual who played a multiple of roles in our routine together each Sunday, Monday, and Thursday morning.
No one can collect tzedakah with the same amount of enthusiasm as Heschie. He was a master of filling the pushke with coins and dollar bills, as well as an occasional IOU when people came to shul short. With his help, we recently completed a forest in Israel with the collections that he made using the JNF box. As for the silver can, many a meal was fed to the homeless once a month on a Monday evening. I can still see the smile on his face when he announced on Sunday morning that we would be serving “fisssshhhhhh sticks” each month, until Mike enabled us to serve “tube steaks” is what Harry called them, every other month. He loved serving the homeless on Monday evenings, and they constantly asked about him in his leave of absence as a new crew took over the volunteering.
What echoes even louder is the pride in which Heschie sang a haftarah. He had a unique trope that must be native to Malden… After he finished, who couldn’t notice the smile on his face, noting his accomplishment, outdoing his job as closer of the daily service following the Torah reading.
I know that Heschie was a man of many talents and interests that went beyond our discussions of the Red Sox. I had an opportunity of seeing some of his artwork at Lynch Park when the Beverly Art Guild had their exhibitions there. I even had a chance to see a work in progress while he was at Ledgewood, a watercolor of some flowers that someone had brought him. Like life in general, the picture was unfinished!
I recently read that the Children of Israel came together as a community on two occasions while traveling in the wilderness towards their goal of reaching the land that God would show to them. The first time it is mentioned that the entire community came together was at Mount Sinai to receive the Torah. The second time that the entire community came together was to weep the loss of Aaron, who showed them loving-kindness, unlike his brother Moses who was portrayed as being stern in character. In Pirkei Avot 3:13 the sages teach us “He who is loved by man is loved by God.” We are taught that doing chesed, acts of righteousness and loving-kindness, is what brings peace and unity to our world. Heschie embraced these qualities. As a sign of our respect for all that he has done for our community, we gather as a community in tribute to a life of many blessings.
As God leads him to that promised place in the world beyond this one, may all those who hold his memory in our hearts and in our souls be comforted and strengthened and consoled in our love for Heschie and how he touched each of us in his own special way. Heschie, I salute you!