A Soul-Filled Life

OSHER–Joseph, died peacefully August 17th, just shy of his 93rd birthday. Joseph was sent from Poland to Palestine in 1935 by his father Anshel Mayer Osher, witnessed profound anti-semitism. He attended the Technion, and graduated in 1941. Remaining in Poland, his mother and sister were slaughtered in the Holocaust. He was the city engineer of Raanana, Israel, a source of tremendous pride. He was later reunited with his surviving father and youngest sister in Israel. Years later, Joseph met Zipora Kanet, who he married in 1950. They made a new home in New York and then in Stamford. Throughout his career, he built private homes and commercial buildings along the Northeast Coast. A lover of classical music, history, fine arts, stamp collecting and gardening, the home he built was of paramount importance to him. Joseph demonstrated to his family a profound work ethic, perseverance, elegance, honesty and a good nature that will always be cherished. He is survived by his adoring sister Esther Wexler, his children Annette, Merle, Ronald and his wife Stephanie, his soul-filled grandchildren Boaz, Ariel, Libby, Aaron, Zohar, Jennifer and Erez. Funeral, Sunday August 19, 1pm Augudath Sholom Synagogue, ….. Shiva through …

Published in The New York Times on August 19, 2012

My father and I have common pastime.  We both like to read the obituaries in the newspaper.  Sadly, my 86-year-old father is looking for names that he might recognize, people from his past.  Me, I am looking for stories. Stories about all sorts of people.  (On Sunday I get a double bonus with stories of those just starting out life together in the wedding announcements.)  Sometimes I am saddened by a life cut short.  Happily, I am often moved  to read about someone like Joseph Osher who had a long and meaningful life. Reading stories like his is inspiring and perhaps even a bit motivational.  I wonder how incredibly resilient he must have been. I wonder what kind of person her must have been to have “soul-filled grandchildren.”

As we enter this season of reflection with Selichot services less than a week away and Rosh HaShannah a week after that, I wonder, what will be said of me at the end of my life?  How could I create a more meaningful and soul-filled life? What would my obituary look like?  Who will speak for me?

It is said that when we hear the shofar blow on these days of Elul and on Rosh HaShannah we are called to teshuvah.  To return or turn around. I see this as an opportunity to create a new path.  While I do not think that we all need to turn around completely, most of our lives are not so off course that we need to do a 180!  But perhaps, with reflection, we will find that some tweaking is needed to get us back on the correct path.

When I was in my tweens, I remember my mother taking me to see the musical Pippin on Broadway.    I often think of the words written by Stephen Schwartz and sung by Ben Vereen:

If you’d take it easy, trust awhile
Don’t look blue, don’t look back
You’ll pull through in just awhile
‘Cause you’re on the right track

While the “don’t look back” line doesn’t really work for me, I think the rest is clear.  With a bit of reflection and steering, we can be on the right course in no time. Maybe this is how we can all be as resilient as Joseph Osher.

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About Gail F. Nalven

Jewish Educator, Rabbi, Tefillah Leader, Songleader, Teacher, and Freelance Jew
This entry was posted in Jewish Holidays, Spirituality, Tefillah (prayer) and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

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