I have never been a rabbi to the stars because my pulpits have been in
Springfield, MA ,
and Framingham, MA .
Not the center of the “Scene.” But just like 7 degrees of separation to Kevin
Bacon, I have had my brushes with famous people. Queens, NY
When I was a rabbi in
the local funeral director asked me to officiate at Mama Cass’ mother’s
funeral. Cass Elliot had been long dead
of an overdose back in 1974, but who doesn’t listen from time to time songs
from the Mamas and the Pappas. Once at one
of my Framingham’s member funeral,
I saw a group of long haired, not appropriately dressed men standing in the
back of the sanctuary. I paid little
attention to them. At the cemetery one
of them came over to me and complimented me on my eulogy. He was especially interested in one of the
readings (adapted from the Wisdom of Ben Sira, if you are familiar with the old
R.A. manual) I read in her memory. I
asked if he would like a copy, I would send it to him. He told me he would like
it very much so I asked him who he was and where should I send it. Then he gave me such a look like “How can you
not recognize me?!” He gave me his card
and it turned out that he was Steven Tyler and his mates were the band
Aerosmith. I later learned that the
deceased’s daughter is married to the drummer and the band came to pay their
respects. Tyler’s reaction to me
just proves what I have always said about myself. When somebody tells me to be there or be
square, I tell them that I can do both! Finally here in Queens I buried Billy Crystal's uncle.
My next encounter happened this passed Sunday. I buried Enta Pozner. She was born in
then a state of the former Soviet Union. She escaped the Nazis by being evacuated east
close to the Chinese border. Her family
was eventually able to leave the Soviet Union in 1973. By 1975 she, her husband, and her two sons
moved to America. At first I didn’t realize it, but she was the
grandmother of Noah Pozner, 6 years old and one of the youngest children
last December. Sandy Hook, CT
Hannah Mallck wrote : “Noah Pozner, 6, was one of the 20 child victims in the
Sandy Hook shooting in , on Dec. 14. All the dead were shot between three and
11 times. Tiny Noah took 11 bullets. His mother, Veronique, insisted on an open
coffin, Naomi Zeveloff reported in the Newtown, Conn.
“You’ll probably remember Noah. He was a happy little guy with beautiful heavily lashed eyes and a cheerful smile. In his coffin, there was a cloth placed over the lower part of his face.
“There was no mouth left,” his mother told the Forward. “His jaw was blown away.”
“She put a stone in his right hand, a “clear plastic rock with a white angel inside.” She wanted to put a matching stone in his left hand but he had no left hand to speak of.
“Parents of the dead children were advised to identify them from photographs, such was the carnage. But every parent reacts differently. Veronique Pozner did the most difficult thing. She asked to see the body. Zeveloff asked her why.
“I owed it to him as his mother, the good, the bad and the ugly,” she said. “. . . And as a little boy, you have to go in the ground. If I am going to shut my eyes to that I am not his mother. I had to bear it. I had to do it.”
When the of
arrived, she brought him to see Noah in the open
casket. “If there is ever a piece of legislation that comes across his desk, I
needed it to be real for him.” The governor wept. Connecticut
“Death by gun isn’t real to us because we see it only in the movies. We occasionally see photos of human beings as meat, but they are almost always meat belonging to non-white foreigners after a bombing.
“And that’s why Noah’s mother asked the governor to come and see her child’s corpse. He had already been told. He had to see it for himself.” For the full article go to http://www.thestar.com/opinion/editorialopinion/2013/01/22/mallick_why_newtown_victim_noah_pozner_had_an_open_coffin.html
Of course the father is still reeling from that tragedy only to bury his mother a year later. I told him that the
massacre truly moved me
to do something. Besides giving several
sermons on the topic of curbing gun violence including one on the High
Holidays, I have formed a team in my synagogue to work towards that goal. Already another shul has joined the team and
we hope to make it a regional force for good by inviting other synagogues to
join our effort. We are in consultation
with the Brady Campaign and Moms Demand Action to be more effective. I hope he
was comforted. Newtown
I can tell you that I have never felt prouder of my Rabbinical work as I did that moment knowing I was living out my Judaism. Since Noah’s death, another 30,000 Americans have died due to gun violence. Abraham Joshua Heschel once said: “Not all are guilty, but all are responsible.” We are our brother’s keeper. Consequently, all are invited to our next team meeting to reduce gun violence, Monday, January 27 at here at Marathon