My thoughts are dulled by the constant pangs of anguish tormenting my soul as I digest the news coming out of Israel. As the death toll mounts I empathize with the countless families whose lives are now forever changed. I think of the children growing up without parents and the parents tragically burying their children; their dreams for tomorrow forever shattered. I have no answers nor can I fathom an end game knowing the cease fire will eventually be forced upon the region without achieving the ultimate goal of a meaningful cessation of hostilities. The continuous spiral of death, destruction and chaos is guaranteed to descend upon future generations. Sadly there are no winners, only various degrees of losers. The death of hundreds or thousands of our enemies cannot make amends for the life of even one soldier or Israeli citizen. Our only hope is that the Almighty will intervene and miraculously solve the problems that mankind has brought upon itself. As Theodore Herzl said, “im tirtzu ein zeh agadah” – if you will it deeply, it is no dream, but if you fail to will it, then a dream it will remain.  Hopefully all mankind will resolutely seek the words found in Isaiah, “that the wolf will lay down with the lamb”.

A tribute to a legend
Our shul and the Jewish world has lost one of the cherished souls of a previous generation. On the 17th day of Tammuz, a day marked by tragedy in Jewish history, Cantor Fuchs was called to meet his creator. He recently celebrated his 104th birthday and was spending the summer months with his family in New York. The chazzan, as he was called by his friends, was an amazing individual who dedicated his life to serving the Jewish world. Although he was creative and excelled in so many different areas, it was his voice that resonated with so many people. His chanting of the Yizkor was so memorable that people often commented that it was the most meaningful prayer they had ever experienced. He loved people and was blessed to retain his wit, wisdom and intellect until the very end. He would attend my Talmud classes and correct me when ever I erred. He went to Yeshivot in Europe before the Holocaust and remembered so much of what he learned. Even at 103 he would still diligently study Hebrew texts and wanted to increase his scholarship.
In shul he was the personality that others could only hope to become. His recital of Kiddush on Friday night left an indelible mark upon all who heard him. At 100 he was willing, albeit with much difficulty, to stand and lead the services over the high holidays. It was only with pressure from others that he finally acquiesced and allowed others to take over this task. He felt it was his obligation to do whatever he could to help our shul and served as Gabbai during the week up until one month ago. Many remember that on Friday nights he would bring potato kugel to shul wrapped in tinfoil portions and give it out to all those who attended services.
Yehei Zichro Baruch – may his memory be a blessing to all who knew him and may his ascension to the heavenly gates bring his beautiful voice and prayers closer to the throne of glory. Indeed there is probably no better person to beseech the Almighty on behalf of his brothers and sisters in Israel, and as we say in Yiddish, “er zal zein a gutter better far unz,” and may his memory continue to have a lasting impact on all who knew him.

Shabbat shalom,

Rabbi Jack Engel

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