Thursday, March 18, 2010

Losing Friends

Ida Kleid passed away last night.
(You can see Ida on the right on the night before a shul event with her daughter Esti and daughter-in-law Jill).
Ida and Henry lived next door to us in Oak Park. They stocked our fridge before we arrived in Oak Park. They walked home with us on Shabbat after davening. They invited us over for their annual Sukkot spectacular (or should I say "meat-tacular" - Ida liked cooking meat in its various forms, and Henry liked eating said meat) on Chol Hamoed. They would collect our mail during East Coast trips, and theirs was the ladder I would borrow without asking when I needed it.
Ida was a doer. She would come in before a shul kiddush to make the cholent (ah, what cholent). She was a driving force behind pivotal shul events, like the Purim Seudah. Make a shul dinner, and there she was in the kitchen, making the kugel. She was a pillar of Yeshivat Akiva, not only working there, but making Akiva part of her lifeblood. She served as an administrator in the school, taking care of so many of the things that you took for granted.
More than anything, though, Ida was a woman of great strength. Not physical strength, but emotional, spiritual strength. Ida suffered from a debilitating disease for much of her adult life. She cared for an ailing mother, suffering from dementia for as long as I lived in Michigan. Her son Dovid, a caring and unique young man, was born with a physical condition that required constant attention and devotion. Frankly, Henry couldn't have been a picnic to live with all those years. (OK, that last one was a joke). But for all the times she was sick; for all the nights she spent in the hospital; for all the personal and physical challenges she faced, I never heard her, not once, complain about herself. Not once.
I spoke to Henry this morning, and told him that chazal teach us that yissurin - suffering - serves as a form of atonement. When a righteous person suffers in this world, he need not endure additional suffering in the World to Come.
I can say with a fair degree of confidence that Ida Kleid went straight to heaven. And, if they got her to make her cholent, they're eating quite well right now.