Yes the inevitable and yet unimaginable has become a reality. Rabbi Birnbaum has passed away and was buried on Monday evening 25 of July 2022. He was one of those rare people who sparkled with the love of life and infected everyone around him. A man among men.
When someone leaves this world, it leaves an empty space, which is difficult for us to approach. We pull back in sorrow feeling his absence. But it is in this space that we can feel the person’s presence and his impact on the world. This is where we can define his effect on our lives. If we can enter this space, we can discover the essence of who he was how he effected us. We can hold on to this essence and keep it with us.
The large number of people who spoke at his funeral, numerus Birnbaum family members and people from the Russian community whose lives he impacted by building Shearim all helped us approach this abyss. Each highlighted his greatness and his amazing personality presenting his greatness in many different lights and from many divergent views points. In one uniting force, everyone spoke about his optimism his kindness and his love of living every moment of life as the “present”, it is meant to be. Now that we are here without him, we have the opportunity to bring his essence back with us from that seemingly empty abyss of sorrow. We must hold tightly to his love of singing, his optimism, his kindness, his love of living every moment 100 percent and his incredible ability to turn stumbling stones into opportunities.
His granddaughter shows us how. At the funeral she said that once when she could not join him for Friday night dinner she told him to imagine her there, holding his hand. Now she will have to imagine him holding her hand. She concluded by pointing out that he has made this task easy because he held her hand so often. We must also go forward imagining him bringing kindness and wisdom to every simple moment. We must feel his energy and determination guiding us. By giving so much of himself to the world and being so fully with us when he was here we can easily imagine him guiding us now. This I believe is his finial gift. Please accept it and pass it on to future generations. Thus may his memory truly be a blessing.