Wednesday, July 14, 2010

A Sad Day in Chicago

I can’t wrap my head around it. The horror is too severe. My mind simply will not go there.

Shalom Menorah is a man I admire. He does not know how to take no for answer. About 20 years ago he induced me to join a daily 6:30 AM Shiur he had begun in Congregation Bnei Ruven. He convinced Rabbi Yosef Gavriel Bechhofer to give that Shiur. The new DafYomi cycle was about to begin world-wide and it was decided to make this a DafYomi Shiur.

The new cycle was a few days away from starting and Shalom ‘pestered me’ to come to that Shiur. I had always thought about joining a daily Shiur but could never muster enough motivation to actually do it. Shalom kept after me.

I don’t usually succumb to pressure but Shalom persisted - making all the right arguments for me and I finally relented and went to the inaugural Daf Yomi shiur. I haven’t stopped and am currently in my third cycle. Shalom Menorah therefore shares in every word I have learned in that Shiur - about 20 years of daily learning so far.

Although very successful in business Shalom has not had an easy life. Among his many travails he suffered and beat testicular cancer. That was about 20 or so years ago too. But nothing that happened to him then or since compares to what happened to him yesterday.

Last night at about 5:00 PM Shalom Menorah lost his father, Moshe, and two teenage daughters – as well as a niece - in a horrific plane crash. His 13 year old son survived and although it is being reported that he suffered burns to his body he is expected to recover. Shalom is with him now in the hospital.

Moshe Menorah was a well known figure here in Chicago. He was a pillar of many Jewish institutions. But he was never flashy about it. He was very successful businessman and very generous with his wealth. But few people would know that. He was a quiet man and never advertised his generosity shunning the kind of publicity that public philanthropy often generates. He exemplified the Mida of Anivus and gave a tremendous amount of Tzedaka quietly - Matan B’Seser. He was a beloved figure to all who knew him.

He was an experienced pilot and flew his own twin engine plane. He loved flying. Yesterday he took four of his grandchildren on a day trip to Mackinac Island in Michigan’s Upper Peninsula. And then on his way back – tragedy!

News reports say that there was a mechanical failure and his plane crashed upon takeoff - exploding and breaking in two. Shalom’s youngest child was ejected and his life spared.

I cannot even begin to describe my own feelings. But they are minuscule in comparison to what Moshe’s family -his wife, children, and grandchildren must be going through. The horror and suddenness of this tragedy is something my mind is blocked from feeling. I have a literal mental block. It is too horrible to contemplate.

One moment a husband, father, and grandfather is alive expected home for supper with plans for the next day and the day after. And in the blink of an eye - a family is devastated beyond description with sudden and permanent loss in one of them most horrific ways imaginable! In an instant Shalom’s father and two teenage daughters are gone! His sister Kelly lost a daughter and a father. His mother Sima lost a husband, and his sister Miriam lost a father.

To say my heart goes out to them is an understatement! The funeral is scheduled to take place tonight at Congregation Or Torah in Skokie at 7:00 PM CDT. Baruch Dayan HaEmes.