Today I am very sad. My colleagues, Rabbis Phyllis and Michael Sommer and their family and circle of friends are laying to rest their little boy, Superman Sam. I pray that in their unimaginable grief and sadness they can feel the love that I am sending to them across the miles. May Sam’s memory live for a blessing forever. זכרונו לברכה.
Today is a day I have so many questions and somehow, perhaps because it is my way, I take comfort in knowing that my questions have no answers. That there is no explanation. I do not question if there is a God. I seek and search and look to find God. Because even in sadness, confusion, disbelief and shock God’s presence is there weeping just like me. Sometimes we don’t know it. Rabbi Paul Kipnes wrote a beautiful blog post about this.
I also am acutely aware that while I know Superman Sam’s story beautifully documented by his adoring parents here, there are far too many children and family stories I am not aware of. It is for those children and their families that I also weep. And through the salty tears, I also can feel hope. Because there are children and families who are alive and thriving. For whom treatments work and life moves forward.
Many people have written beautiful words about why they are touched by Superman Sam and there will surely be more reflections. This post explains so beautifully how one person (and many others myself included) read the Superman Sam blog as a way to show we care. This post also is so very beautiful.
Jewish tradition teaches that one way to honor and memorialize a person who has died is to donate tzedakah/charitable funds. My colleagues have come together to raise awareness of childhood cancer. Should you be so moved you can donate to the #36rabbis here.
Rabbi Rebecca Einstein Schorr beautifully informed me of Sam’s death and the appropriate arrangements while she teaches Jewish custom and theology in her blog post. I share the text with you here because I find it so poignant.
And Samuel died; and all Israel gathered together and lamented him
(1 Samuel 25:1)
Sammy. Sweet Sammy has died.
He is dead.
His parents haven’t “lost” a child.
They would never…could never…be so careless.
He didn’t “pass” or “pass away.”
We pass a driving test or a kidney stone.
We don’t just pass through life.
Sammy didn’t just pass through life.
And at 12:33am, in the still solitude and with his beloved parents surrounding him with their love, Samuel Asher died.
And on Monday, December 16, 2013, all Israel will gather together and lament him.
Funeral services will be held at Am Shalom, Glencoe, IL at 1:00pm.
Tenderly, we will return his body to the earth and tuck him in for his eternal rest following the service at Shalom Memorial Park in Arlington Heights.
Shiva will be observed in The Crown Room at Am Shalom: Monday through Wednesday, 5-8:00pm, with a minyan service each night at 7:00pm.
We will not celebrate; we will mourn. Together. As we always have.
He is not in a better place because how could there be any place better than in his parents’ embrace?
And God didn’t want Sammy with Him; God weeps with us in our time of sorrow.
Baruch Dayan HaEmet.
Blessed is the Eternal Judge of Truth.