Jewish religion heavily honors life cycle events as a way to guide practitioners through a moral, spiritual, and meaningful journey. When I was first informed of my 50-year-old uncle’s sudden death from a heart attack, I was in disbelief. How could such an incredible athlete with an admirable diet and a healthy lifestyle die from such a complication? Mike was the most intelligent and humble man I have ever known, pouring all of his heart into his children, his wife, his clients and anyone who had the privilege of meeting him. Most importantly, Mike embodied the Jewish community. After Mike’s passing, my aunt received deeply heartfelt emails from more people than imaginable. Mike continues to unite the sense of a Jewish community through his memory.
When a Jewish person passes, it is custom that the funeral service and burial quickly follow to best preserve and honor the body. When the mourners return home from the funeral, the shiva - a formal, seven-day Jewish mourning - begins. The shiva serves to bring together the Jewish community in mourning and in celebration of the life of the deceased. The Jewish people were never instructed on how to properly mourn during a worldwide pandemic. Nonetheless, Mike’s wisdom surpassed precedent. Our extended family and friends gathered online to say the mourner’s kaddish, which does not mention death but rather asks God to pray for the souls of the deceased. Mimicking the environment of a shiva house, many people then shared stories of Mike, allowing for both cries and soft laughter to be heard. Mike’s memory joined family and friends from all across the nation, creating a sense of community and comfort that we all so deeply miss during this time of isolation. I know Mike will continue to embrace and uplift the Jewish community through his memory for years to come.
This item was submitted on May 6, 2020 by [anonymous user] using the form “Tell us your story” on the site “Pandemic Religion: A Digital Archive”: https://americanjewishlife.org/s/contributionsClick here to view the collected data.