Thursday, April 26, 2007

Shauli Mordechai

Just over 10 years ago, a child named Shauli Mordechai of Silver Spring, Md., accidentally fell into the swimming pool in his backyard. The injuries left him permanently attached to machines and put his life immediately at risk. Over the next years, volunteers - mostly teenagers - in the community rallied around Shauli, helping by performing physical therapy exercises with him and bathing Shauli. Shauli became a community project. On Wednesday, Shauli was niftar. Here is a report from someone who attended Shauli's funeral this morning :

There were enough people there to fill pretty much all of the seats in the social hall at Shomrei Emunah [in Silver Spring]. I'm sure that had the funeral been Friday instead, many more people would have chosen to attend from out of town. But the interest was clearly in getting the body to Israel before Shabbat set in, and that forced the funeral to be early today. The Yeshiva sent all of its students, and I saw a large population from the Hebrew Academy as well. Also, pretty much every Rabbi I've seen in either Kemp Mill or White Oak was in attendance.

Rabbi Rosenbaum, Assistant to the Rabbi, led the services. He called on Morah Diasra Rabbi Anemer to say a few words. Of course, because R' Anemer is a kohen, he spoke from outside via microphone. Rabbi Anemer's message was very similar to the one he gave last summer about Dov Klugerman, the high schooler who was hit by a car on his way home from the Yeshiva. We are not to judge the role and importance of a life cut short, but to try our best to accept that it was within the divine plan set forth for this neshoma, R' Anemer said. In this case, though, R' Anemer talked a lot about how much Shauli's life impacted the Mordechais, the community and klal yisroel as a whole. R' Anemer pointed to all the tehillim and prayers that have been said and the chesed that Shauli's life caused. He finished off by thanking Shauli and Hashem for allowing our community to benefit from Shauli's life, teaching us valuable lessons about charity, compassion, resilience and unity.

Then they called up Rabbi Zev Katz, head of the girls Yeshiva. He spoke as a representative of all the parents who have had kids who volunteered to work with Shauli over the years. R' Katz's message was that Shauli helped raise so many children, teaching them the same lessons that R' Anemer alluded to. He wondered where parents and teachers would turn to convey these important lessons now that Shauli has been niftar. He ended off by saying that yesterday at the hospital Aviva, Shauli's mother, asked him if he thought that Shauli would go straight to Gan Eden. R' Katz replied, "No, straight to the kisei hakavod."

Then Jud Lifschitz, a neighbor of the Mordechais, spoke about his experience eight years ago in the hospital while talking to Aviva when the nurses told her that Shauli might not make it through the night. Jud read from his book, Stories for Shauli, and talked about how until then he never truly understood the message behind Shauli's trauma. In fact, Jud said, it was about his strength to fight the odds and to stay alive one more day, and another day, so that people could continue to benefit from being with him just a little bit longer. Jud then asked the audience how many of us are worthy to have helped and enriched so many other people's lives. How many of us live a life free of sin? He concluded by saying that each of us has the ability to think, to speak, and to walk. Shauli didn't. But he still inspired so many people to think, to speak and to walk to perform mitzvot.

Lastly, pediatrician and close family friend, Jeff Bernstein, spoke about how when you're young, you turn to your parents and teachers to learn from them. But as you grow older, you start learning from other people, pretty much everybody. He said that as a pediatrician, he's learned a tremendous amount from his patients. As a father, he's learned from his children. But Shauli allowed him to learn a great deal about both his children and himself.

The overall message here was that even though Shauli's accident left him in this state for the last decade or so, it was part of Hashem's plan to make his neshoma matter. The accident was never mentioned directly, as people cobbled together all the 14+ years as part of the same plan. His life was intended to be what it was, from the start. You could tell from the turnout and the emotional response that existed this morning that people were touched by Shauli's life and they understood that his life - and in turn his death - was full of purpose, dignity and peacefulness.


Anonymous tameushaw said...

Thank you so much for posting this. As a member of Shomrai in Silver Spring, I really wanted to go to the service this morning, but was unable to. I know his father, but knew nothing about Shauli (I guess he wasn't a topic of casual conversation). Still, when I saw the announcement email last night, I was quite shaken and somehow knew someone special had passed. Minyan this morning was, naturally, very subdued.

3:36 PM, April 26, 2007

Anonymous aishel said...

BDE :-/

8:02 PM, April 26, 2007


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