Eulogy by Alexander Rein

Delivered by his grandson, Alexander, on December 28, 2016

Hello, my name is Alexander and this is my brother Oliver and my sister Sophia, and we would like to take a moment to reflect on everything our Grandpa has taught us.

Although we may live a few thousand miles away in New York, we still feel extremely close to him. Whether in person or over the phone, we loved sharing with him what we learned in school, getting his medical advice for our various and frequent injuries, or just chatting about the perpetual misfortunes of his favorite football club, Leeds United.

The week before my bar mitzvah, our family dedicated a Sefer Torah to our four grandparents, and we were honoured to have Grandpa write in one of the final letters. Grandpa was subsequently called up to that Torah at both Oliver’s and my own bar mitzvah when we read the Torah, and was also present when my sister read Megillat Esther at her bat mitzvah.

We were always excited to have Grandpa at our house every year for Sukkot. In fact, this time last year we were privileged to spend Chanukah with him at our house in Great Neck. Though Grandpa taught us many lessons, it was his Ahavat Yisrael, his love for Israel, that stood out.

I think anybody who has visited the Library of Congress knows it pales in comparison to Grandpa’s library of Jewish history. Grandpa loved to tell us stories of his visits to Israel when it was still in its infancy, such as when he saw blown up tanks in the desert from Israel’s numerous wars.

His connection to Israel added another layer of meaning to when we prayed for his health last summer at the Kotel, and will be constantly on my mind during my upcoming trip to Israel. Thus, we think it is fitting to remember him on Chanukah, a holiday closely connected to the story of Israel. Though most people associate Chanukah with the miracle of oil lasting eight nights, Chanukah is really a story of Jewish independence. For hundreds of years following the Babylonian expulsion, various foreign empires ruled Israel, and the Jews suffered religious persecution. In response, the Chashmonaim led a successful revolt, giving the Jewish people political sovereignty over Israel. A similar story occurred almost 2000 years later in 1948, with the founding of the modern State of Israel. Now, for the first time since the story of Chanukah, the Jewish people are once again sovereign in Israel. To us, and our grandfather, these victories against all odds were the true miracles of Chanukah.

We will always remember our Grandpa for his humor and kindness, but most of all, his seemingly unending knowledge of Jewish history, and his devotion to the Jewish people. Just a few days ago, we had the privilege of lighting Chanukah candles by his hospital bedside one final time, a mitzvah that was fitting of Grandpa’s legacy. May his legacy of Ahavat Yisrael, as well as his love for everyone continue to be a blessing to us, to our people, and to the world. Amen.

Alexander Rein