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Dee Day

Eerily enough, another pair of beautiful Jewish siblings in Israel have been murdered in cold blood. Maia and Rena Dee. Yet again, for no other reason than being Jewish.

In the span of mere weeks, a third family in Israel is grappling, needing to cope with the un-copable. Their world forever shattered and altered.

The human capacity is simply not designed for this kind of emotional tsunami.

Two beloved sisters. A beloved mother. Gone. In an instant. Of hate. And violence.

I wish we did not need to meet these extraordinary, utterly noble, families — Devora Paley, after her two beautiful, cherubic, little boys were murdered in the hustle and bustle of their erev Shabbos transportation to spend Shabbat with relatives; the Yaniv family, whose exceptional teens and young adult sons were brutally, fatally, shot at on their way home.

Now comes the Dee family’s triple grief. The two sisters, two luminescent daughters. This time, their majestic mother, too.

This is no less than a private Holocaust of sorts.

This nuclear family, amputated; in split seconds, loved ones cruelly ripped away.

Imagining the Dee family’s utter helplessness; I can barely handle hearing this devastating news.

At the televised funeral, seeing their animal pain through my own tears — the contorted faces in raw agony and sheer anguish. It’s just too much.

And this was when they thought their mother and wife was going to survive.

Then came the blow of Lucy Dee, the news from Hadassah Hospital, despite its valiant efforts. They were devastated to report that Lucy, too, had died.

Yet.

These families. These bereaved families. In their darkest hour, they are the ones teaching and leading us. Comforting us, the rest of the Jewish nation left helplessly witnessing these kind, whole, joyous and idealistic Jewish families, severed, ruptured and crushed — yet not beaten, nor destroyed.

In particular, this week, Rabbi Dee, in this time of sensing a lacuna in leadership, Rabbi Leo Dee has super-humanly chosen, if even only for a few moments, to somehow collect himself and manage to leave his personal pain behind, or, rather, was it inseparable from him and he brought it with him? Emerging as our collective rabbi. As the entire Jewish people’s, as a nation’s rabbi and eloquent voice of moral clarity.

It was he shepherding us.

When his world has been shattered to smithereens, it seems that he sensed the destiny of the moment. Perhaps the world was momentarily listening and so he somehow found it in himself to be that beacon of strength, to amplify his shattered yet crystal clear voice and message on behalf of Am Yisrael to the world.

What a voice.

What a force.

As I pen my column today, on April 10, Rabbi Leo Dee has declared this day to be “Dee Day.”

We all know D-Day most commonly to be the invasion of Normandy on June 6, 1944.

It brought together land air and sea forces of the Allied armies in what was known as the largest invasion force in human history.

In an astonishing press conference where Rabbi Dee’s composure in the face of his family’s tragedy defies normative human strength, he does not merely condemn the vile and vicious terrorist act that destroyed his family, but he somehow finds the presence of mind, grace, and leadership to guide the world in the roots of terrorism that we must all recognize, if we are to strive for a world free of this destructive, malignant scourge.

He speaks of the invasive and dangerous philosophical idea that has taken root, that of the perversion of moral equivalence, of blurring and even confusing the lines between good and evil, emphasizing the need for re-acquiring and discerning the basic difference between good and evil, and specifically imploring people to proudly display the Israeli flag.

Remarkably, in a gesture of goodwill, he began his remarks speaking about this unique moment in a time when Ramadan, Easter and Passover overlap.

It is at this press conference which I hope you google and listen to for yourselves, that instead of an understandable and justified message replete with rage or of lashing out with hate, that Rabbi Dee called for April 10, 2023 to be Dee Day, a day dedicated in memory of his beloved wife Lucy and precious daughters Maia and Rena, a day devoted to a better world, to good deeds, kindness and standing with pride for Israel’s mission of bringing good in the world.

The more you learn about each of these three beacons of light that have now been extinguished, the deeper the magnitude the sense of loss becomes.

I wish we never would have occasion to meet these extraordinary, emotionally and spiritually regal families. It takes a lifetime of deep faith work to be able to respond to these blindsiding tragedies in the way we have witnessed these families respond.

This kind of choice in response is not something that can be rehearsed or put on.

Life is revealing for us the heart and soul of our Jewish people and the nuclear families that are woven into the essence and composition of our people, of who we are and need to continue being.

A third set of loving siblings, taken together.

How eerie . . . why? Is there some kind of mystical message in this?

It’s so unnatural. Yet, a recent consecutive pattern.

Even the funeral home has only one formal stone structure to accommodate one single casket. The second body was placed on a stretcher.

We know that the ways of G-d are mysterious. We, the finite, can never comprehend the infinite.

We don’t know why.

Yet, the paradigm of siblings is inescapable.

At a time of deep tension, we at least mustn’t ever forget that we the Jewish people are, as siblings, a family.

As I write it is still Pesach, and the seder is fresh in our minds. The maror, the bitter herbs, might seem symbolic, but it seems as real as ever this Pesach.

When we taste that maror, when we dip into the salt water, the symbolic tears . . . for all those children, all those baby boys who were forcibly thrown into the Nile, lost to us, to history, forever; to all those children who according to the Midrash, were used as grout in the stones of the Pyramids, to all the mothers and fathers and brothers and sisters of our nation who have been taken too early or too cruelly just for being Jewish.

That’s the maror we still swallow.

By the time this column is published, Dee Day will technically be behind us. April 10, the date, might have passed.

But the legacy of the Dee Family as it is suffused within this new Dee Day remains forever.

Good deeds. Kindness. Engagement with whomever each of us might perceives as the “Other,” pride in Judaism, in Israel, and ultimately in making the world a better place.

Henceforth, remember April 10, for this is the new Dee Day. Let’s make it the invasion in history of kindness, good deeds and Jewish Israeli pride.

May Lucy, Maia and Rena forever be remembered for a blessing.

And now, just before we go to press, I witness the funeral the next day of the mother, Lucy. I learn that all of Lucy Dee’s organs were donated. In her death, in her tragic bloodshed, she brought life to five other human beings. And for a sixth, their vision will be restored. Literally, in the powerful words of Ezekiel we just read at the Pesach seder, “Be-damayich chayee, in your blood you shall live!”

But Lucy’s heart, the Dee family’s heart, transcends that of a literal organ. In their moments of profound vulnerability and absolutely brutal pain, they extended their heart to us all, merging us into one united heartbeat.

I stand in awe of the Dee family’s nobility in tragedy.

I can only hope that in the future the Dee family, and all of Israel’s “Be-damayich chayee” moments, will not derive from bloodshed, but from life-affirming moments and milestones.

I pray, in time, for this beautiful family’s emotional healing and rebuilding.

Copyright © 2023 by the Intermountain Jewish News



Tehilla Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park


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