When Grandma is asked in “Grandma’s Reply” (published in Covenant of the Generations) how she felt about not carrying Torah, she replies, “Ah, Medele, but I did carry Torah. I carried Torah in my heart and in my soul. I carried it within me into the cellar, and its words appeared on my lips in the boat. I carried it within me as I packed and unpacked my candlesticks, those same candlesticks your mother used to help light your path toward Torah.” She finishes her reply with a request: “So go today and touch the Torah. Feel in your hands the power and love that I know in my heart, that my mother and her mother knew. And when you hug the Torah, hug it for me. And when you read the Torah, say the words that I wanted to say, so long ago. You know which they are. From the depths of our hearts, we have passed them to you. Now give them back to us with your voice.”
In Parshat Va-y’chi, Jacob gathers his children and grandchildren around him as he nears death, attempting to ensure the continuity of his family. By giving his family both promises and instructions for the future, he blesses them and passes along his wisdom. We do not know exactly what his progeny was thinking as Jacob spoke, but we do know that his words were passed along to their children and their children’s children, because even today we repeat them in our own homes. The guidance offered when sharing our wisdom, our blessings, hopes and dreams is a powerful comfort for the recipients, and the directions give us strength during a challenging time.
When I first heard of Jane Marcus’ (z’l) death, my thoughts instantly reverted to the words she spoke as she guided me on my path towards being a sisterhood leader, her coaching, her pride when I joined WRJ’s board, and her joy when I presented her with her own pair of those fantastic green and blue argyle WRJ socks. Jane was a past president of Beth Am Women, served as co-chair of the resolutions committee while on the WRJ board and was a member of the Chai Society of Retired WRJ Board Members. As she was to many, she was my mentor and role model, my cheerleader, and friend.
Jane always glowed when talking about WRJ, telling me that one of the privileges of serving on the board was to be surrounded by the smartest women she knew, and she firmly believed the futures of our sisterhood and of WRJ were in good hands as new leaders moved ahead in new and exciting directions. She recognized ways to improve our world, knew each of us has the capacity to make changes, and doggedly pursued her beliefs and what she knew to be true, with creativity, humor, and clarity. She gave us direction to continue to do the vital work that must be done, and blessed us with the assurance that our strength, as individuals and collectively, is strong enough to make a difference.
Jane taught us with her words but as significantly, with her actions. Grandma passed along the wisdom of Torah with her hands just as Jacob did before her with his voice. May we all share our wisdom with those we love, and may the ones who listen, learn and share for the future, in their own ways and with their own voices.
Deb Radin is a past president of Beth Am Women, Los Altos Hills, CA, a member of the Board of WRJ, an estate planning attorney in practice with her mother, and is the mother of 2 college-age sons.