Another sobering Thought
My friend Ernie Alexander passed away yesterday. His family and friends buried him down the road at Kfar Etzion (in the centre of Israel) the little local cemetery that unfortunately isn't so small any more. Perhaps a sign that Efrat, and Gush Etzion in general, are becoming a real city.
When I arrived at mincha yesterday, my friend Alex said "everybody's friend passed away this afternoon". It was real shock to everybody that came in to the synagague that afternoon. Everyone had their favorite Ernie quotation. He greeted me daily with, "How are you handsome -- you know who I'm talking to?" and then "you don't mind that I call you that". I'm not sure I'm as good looking as he said, but it always made me feel good. He had a line for everyone.
His son David told me he never remembers his father ever being angry, losing his temper. I replied that this a very rare gift and from the time I knew Ernie, I really believed it was true.
He was born in some small town nowhere in the middle of Germany. He was poor and during his teens they started burning Jews. Germany where Jews had lived for centuries and contributed for centuries, started burning Jews. Ernie was lucky. His mother managed to get him out of Germany, all on his own, to Omaha Nebraska (wherever that is), at the age of fifteen -- all on his own. He was drafted and worked as a translator for the U.S. army, translating all those evil Germans' claims that they were just taking orders. Some orders!
Anyway the rest is history -- 4 sons, 25 grandchildren and 29 great-grandchildren . . . and as Ernie used to say, "the figure isn't final yet".
It won't be the same in the Shule this afternoon . . . Ernie was always first in the Synagogue, making sure everything was just so . . . some days I'd try and get there before him . . . rarely I succeeded, but he always acknowledged you.