From: L P
Sent: Wednesday, May 3, 2017 11:44 AM
To: Mendel Schwartz <firstname.lastname@example.org>
Subject: Appreciate your leadership
I am Stacy friend, Lydia, the blonde woman who was sitting next to her at the seder and at your Dad’s memorial service. Actually, Stacy and I met about five years ago at High Holiday services through the Chai Center, and we have been great friends ever since.
Mendel, I was talking to Esther after the seder and telling her how much I appreciate your strength and character in the two events I have attended since your Dad passed away. I know what it is like to lose family. My sister Nancy passed away from cancer in May, 2014, and then my mother Esther passed away seven months later in December, 2014. I went to the seder in 2015 at your parents’ house. I told your Dad what had happened, and that I was my Mom’s caregiver for many years before I became my sister’s caregiver, and I didn’t really understand what the implications of those losses were for me, as I now find myself alone. Your Dad told me that it is because G-d knew me to be the strongest person in my family. I don’t know if I always believe that, but his words have been of great comfort to me.
Your candor during the speech you gave during your father’s memorial service has really stayed with me. You said that speech was the first major speech you had written without your father looking over your shoulder as you wrote it, or something to that effect. I think you shared a very real moment with all of us, and it was profound and meaningful.
And, then there was the seder at the Olympic Collection, with LOTS of the Schwartz family showing up, little ones running around, new faces and old friends from prior years. Stacy and I had a great time. I hugged your Mom and told her that I thought you led a wonderful seder, and I shared that with Esther, too. (Esther is very cool, by the way!) You maintained a lot of your Dad’s traditions, while making that seder uniquely your own. It was a very warm experience in a way that was both as great and yet different from the seders there in previous years.
This all leads me back to a riff, if you will, on what your father said to me. It has been just a few short months since your father passed away… and truly, you’ve got this! You led those two services with a tremendous amount of heart, and it showed. I am sure your expectations of yourself are heightened due to your Dad’s immense personality and his huge influence in the community (no pressure, right?).. but you have been the other rabbi at his side for years, and I believe G-d would never have let him leave this life before you were ready to lead in his place. I would say that a part of who he was has been woven into you. You know how to lead the Chai Center community by adding your own personality to what you have known and already done for years and years. In that way, of course your Dad is still looking over your shoulder.
I really wanted to let you know I think you are doing just great. These are early days, too. I will be sending in a little donation to the Chai Center (wish it was more), with prayers for many, many more years of continued success. Because, as I say, you’ve got this.
May your father’s memory be a blessing… (but we know it already is!)
Best regards, Lydia