Category Archives: Eulogy

My Rabbinic Patron – Eulogy for Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”tl

My Rabbinic Patron – Eulogy for Rabbi Jonathan Sacks z”tl

My wife Tamara and I met Rabbi Sacks and his wife Elaine in Montevideo, March 2013. They were there as part of their tour of a few South American communities. We were there being interviewed for Rabbinic roles in the community.

I had attended lectures by Rabbi Sacks before, had read and enjoyed tremendously several of his books, and was a consistent reader and fan of his weekly Covenant & Conversation articles. It was, therefore, an incredible thrill for me, when addressing the Jewish community of Montevideo on Shabbat afternoon, to quote Rabbi Sacks in front of Rabbi Sacks.

On Sunday, I got to have a little private time with him, where he gave his nod as well as encouragement for me to accept the Uruguayan Chief Rabbi post. I believe that his approval likely sealed the deal for both myself and the community.

On Monday, meeting him yet again and after he had a chance to peruse some of my Biblical Fiction books that I had gifted to him, he encouraged me further to keep writing and publishing my material (which I did).

Thereafter, Rabbi Sacks became my rabbinic patron, being a model of a type of rabbinic leadership to provide a community (adjusted for Uruguay), and making himself available to provide me guidance at pivotal junctures of my role.

Shortly after meeting Rabbi Sacks and seeing his electrifying effect on the Jewish community, together with some other volunteers, we embarked on translating his weekly Covenant & Conversation articles into Spanish. That effort continues until this day, more than seven years later, by a team of devoted volunteers from several South American countries.

Besides emailing the articles to a growing list of subscribers as well as sharing it on Rabbi Sacks’ website, we also archived them for several years on my blog

Then, a couple of years ago, we created a blog exclusively for Rabbi Sacks’ Spanish articles:

Now, in his memory and to bring more of his Torah and wisdom to the Spanish-speaking world, we’d like to do two things:

  1. Upgrade the website – right now it’s a simple archive, not easy or intuitive to search or navigate, nor is it visually appealing – we’d like to fix that, as well as transfer the hundreds of articles that are posted on my private blog, to this one central repository.
  2. Translate and edit more of Rabbi Sacks’ material. While we have a significant number of articles translated (close to 400 articles) there are hundreds more waiting to be translated.

If you are able and interested in helping with any of the above, please be in touch.

We have lost a giant. His wisdom, his articulation, his insightfulness, his ability to transcend borders, differences, cultures, and even languages were incredible. His ability to connect with people from all backgrounds, faiths, and denominations while remaining a pillar of Jewish thought, firmly grounded in tradition, yet refreshing in his outlook, shattered barriers. I saw with my own eyes his success in his bringing closer Jews who had been estranged from Judaism for decades. I expect it will take many long years for us to realize the impact that Rabbi Sacks has had on the global Jewish community and even upon the world at large. He will be sorely, sorely missed.

May his family be consoled among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

Ben-Tzion Spitz

Former Chief Rabbi of Uruguay

Batman and Soviet Jewry

Batman and Soviet Jewry

In the mid-80’s, the Student Struggle for Soviet Jewry (SSSJ) at Yeshiva University organized a trip for volunteers to travel to Washington, D.C. to educate members of congress as to details of what the struggle was actually about. They split us up into pairs and we wandered the halls of congress seeking congressmen that would listen to us. In most cases we were politely attended by the Legal Aid of each congressman, who would give us a few minutes of their time, listen to our rehearsed speech, take dutiful notes, and tell us earnestly that they would convey are message to the congressman. We repeated this routine from office to office.

However, in one office the story went a little differently. We were sitting with the Legal Aid, giving our schpiel, when someone walked out of the Congresswoman’s office. The Legal Aid turned to us and said: “Do you know who that is? That’s Adam West, Batman!” My friend and I looked at each other, turned to the Legal Aid and said, “Excuse us for a moment.” He nodded in comprehension. We ran out of the office and down the hall to catch up with the long strides of the tall celebrity.

He must have heard us coming (he was Batman after all). He turned around and as we came within arm’s reach, he grabbed each of us by the lapel of our suit jackets and in his deep Batman voice declared: “You villains, you!”

I wanted to respond with something witty like “Holy mackerel, Batman!” but we were simply awestruck and dumbfounded and merely gazed at him in open-mouthed, wide-eyed adulation. He smiled a big heroic smile, turned around and continued on his way. This was the highlight of our Soviet Jewry trip.

We returned to the congresswoman’s office and now the Legal Aid ushered us into the office of the congresswoman herself, Barbara Vucanovich of Nevada. She was a gracious host. The reason Adam West had been visiting is because their children had just gotten engaged to each other. Congresswoman Vucanovich then proceeded to inquire about Soviet Jewry and after our talk she promised to vote in favor of whatever legislation would help the cause.

We all know how the struggle for Soviet Jewry ended and now you know that Batman himself had a small, if not heroic, part in this battle of good against evil. May he rest in peace.



My Lodestar, My Rosh Yeshiva

April 20, 2015

My Lodestar, My Rosh Yeshiva

Either directly or indirectly, Rav Aharon Lichtenstein had a pervasive moral influence on my life. He was the arbiter, he was the guide, he was the model of what an ethical existence was meant to be. He saw through the confusion of loud and conflicting ideologies, pressures, influences and distractions. He saw to the heart of matters in a rational, wise, experienced insight.

I have known and interacted with many great Rabbis in my life, but to me, Rav Aharon was … the holiest. He was modest and approachable. He was constantly accessible. He dressed simply. He did not have any intermediaries. He sat in his place in the Beit Midrash (the study hall of the Yeshiva) surrounded by hundreds of his students.

Nonetheless, I always approached him with trepidation. When I walked to his small desk, I felt perhaps the awe of the High Priest on Yom Kippur entering the Holy of Holies. I was sparse and efficient with my words, not wanting to waste a second of this great man’s time. I listened carefully to each nugget of wisdom, of insight, of guidance that he shared with me.

And then there were his students. To live in Alon Shvut, in the shadow of Yeshivat Har Etzion, is to live in the shadow of Rav Aharon. One cannot walk two steps without running into a student of Rav Aharon. These students have become my lifelong friends, companions, guides and instructors. They are my community. They are my family. We are all orphaned today.




Eulogy for my grandmother, Mrs. Zahava Rosenthal


I can’t believe you’re gone. You were the anchor of our family. The matriarch of our clan. The role model of unflinching hospitality. You possessed a heart of gold that was big enough to include every single person you met.

Safta loved stories. She loved telling them and she loved hearing them. I’m going to tell a story. It’s a story of how I imagine Safta’s reunion now with Saba after 31 years.

“Zahava!” Zvi called. “What took you so long?”

“Why were you in such a rush?” Zahava chided Zvi. “You missed so much. There was so much left to see and do.”

“My job was done,” Zvi explained sadly. “My time was up. I missed you so much.”

“Me too,” Zahava answered. “You missed all the other grandchildren being born. You missed their weddings. You missed great-grandchildren being born. Bli ayin hara, so many and so beautiful. The family has grown so much and you weren’t there to see it.”

“But I was, Zahava. I was there for every birth and every brit. I was there for every wedding and even for the sheva brachot. I was there for the birth of every great-grandchild. I can see it all from here and I don’t even have to pack. But I was lonely.”

“Me too,” Zahava said. “It wasn’t the same without you.”

“You? Lonely?” Zvi asked in surprise. “Your house was like Grand Central Station. People coming and going all the time. It was the first stop for almost any Israeli that came to New York. And you were always on the phone with the whole world. Helping people. Getting people jobs. Making matches. Sending shmattes from one side of the world to the other. There was no person who was too lowly or too important for your attention. It didn’t matter where they were from, what religion they were or what language they spoke. And how you cared for the grandchildren and then the great-grandchildren. No, Zahava, I saw everything. You should be proud. You left behind a wonderful family. A wonderful legacy. A legacy of kindness. Of caring. Of compassion for any and all. Now it’s their turn to continue the legacy. Our children and grandchildren and great-grandchildren will remember. They will remember that they had such a Safta. They will remember her strength and courage and wisdom. They will remember the importance of family. They will remember your love of people. They will remember your generosity. They will remember all of this. They will carry it on in their own lives. They will pass it on to future generations. Our job is done.”

“Really?” Zahava asked. “What do we do now?”

“Now we rest, relax and enjoy the show.”

And Zvi embraced Zahava in an eternal embrace and they lived happily ever after, together, forever.

The End.

הספד לסבתי זהבה רוזנטל ז”ל


 אני לא מאמין שאת כבר לא איתנו. את היית הציר של המשפחה. האם של השבט. מודל לחיקוי של אירוח. בעלת לב זהב גדול מספיק כדי לכלול כל אדם שאת פגשת בחיים.

 סבתא אהבה סיפורים. היא אהבה לספר אותם, וגם לשמוע אותם. אני הולך לספר סיפור. זהו סיפור של איך אני מתאר לעצמי את פגישתה של סבתא עכשיו עם סבא לאחר 31 שנים.

 “זהבה!” צבי קרא. “למה לקח לך כל כך הרבה זמן?”

 “למה מהרת כל כך?” זהבה שאלה. “פספסת כל כך הרבה. כל כך הרבה נותר לראות ולעשות.”

 “התפקיד שלי נעשה”, צבי הסביר בעצב. “הזמן שלי נגמר. אבל התגעגעתי אלייך כל כך הרבה.”

 “גם אני,” זהבה ענתה. “אבל פספסת את כל הנכדים שנולדו אחרי כן. פספסת את החתונות שלהם. פספסת את הנינים שנולדו. בלי עין הרע, רבים כל כך,ויפים כל כך. המשפחה גדלה כל כך הרבה, ולא היית שם כדי לראות אותה.”

 “אבל, זהבה. כן הייתי שם. הייתי שם לכל לידה, ולכל ברית. הייתי שם בכל חתונה, ואפילו בשבע ברכות. הייתי שם ללידת כל נין. אפשר לראות את הכל מכאן, ואפילו אין צורך לארוז. אך הייתי בודד.”

 “גם אני,” זהבה אמרה. “זה לא היה אותו דבר בלעדיך.”

 “את? בודדה”? צבי שאל בתמיהה. “הבית שלך היתה כמו תחנת מרכזית. אנשים באים והולכים כל הזמן. היית התחנה הראשונה עבור כמעט כל ישראלי שהגיע לניו יורק. והיית תמיד בטלפון עם כל העולם. לעזור לאנשים. לארגן לאנשים עבודות. לשדך זוגות. לשלוח בגדים מצד אחד של העולם לצד השני. לא היה אף אדם שהיה נמוך מדי או גבוה מדי פשוט מדי או חשוב מדי הראוי לתשומת לבך. לא חשוב מאיפה היה , מאיזו דת היה או באיזו שפה דיבר.

ואיך שאת דאגת לנכדים ולאחר מכן לנינים. לא, זהבה, ראיתי את הכל. את צריכה להיות גאה. השארת מאחוריך משפחה לתפארת. מורשת נפלאה. מורשת של חסד. של אכפתיות. החמלה עבור כל וכל. עכשיו זה התור שלהם להמשיך את מורשתך. הילדים שלנו והנכדים והנינים יזכרו. הם יזכרו שהיה להם סבתא כזאת. הם יזכרו את הכוח, והאומץ והתבונה שלך. הם יזכרו את החשיבות העליונה של המשפחה. הם יזכרו את האהבה שלך אל הזולת. הם יזכרו את הנדיבות הבלתי-פוסקת. הם יזכרו את כל זה. הם ישאו את זה בעצמם. והם יעבירו את זה לדורות הבאות. התפקיד שלנו הסתיים”.

 “באמת?” זהבה שאלה. “מה אנחנו עושים עכשיו?”

 “עכשיו זה זמן לנוח, להירגע וליהנות מההצגה.”

 צבי חיבק את זהבה בחיבוק נצחי, והם חיים באושר ועושר, יחד, לנצח.


Personal Eulogy for the Admor of the Shomrei Emunim, Rav Avraham Haim Roth

The Passing of a Prophet

I first met the Admor, as his Chasidim of the Shomrei Emunim call him, fifteen years ago. I was a cynical rationalist that had little time for excessive saintliness. However, meeting the happy man of the shiny countenance had an immediate impact on me and whether conscious or not the outward effect was that I started growing a beard from that day forward.

Over the years, I’ve spent many hours together with him, usually accompanying my father, but in latter years by myself and on one occasion by his express invitation.

[The rest of the eulogy is at]