Sunday, June 04, 2023

Last Yom Kippur, the Ribono Shel Olam decreed that one of the world’s most outstanding advocates for hope, forgiveness and return would complete her lifelong mission.

Rabbi Esther Jungreis left us at 80 years old on Tuesday, a matter of days before we enter the Hebrew month of Elul, when we begin the process of selichot, a time of yearning, asking for forgiveness and return.

These very messages that we carry with us the weeks prior to Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur are the lessons that Rebbetzin Jungreis spoke of. She did not bring them to light, however, only at this time of year, but rather throughout the year, in every lecture, speech and article.

Through her writings and appearances, her message was the very reason why many Jews who had little or no connection to Jewish tradition or who had abandoned it completely found reason to come back. The truth is, Rebbetzin Jungreis wasn’t speaking to Jewish denominations. No, she was speaking to the Jewish soul, the neshama. Like few other people of our time, her passion, her urgency, her words could transcend spiritual barriers, bringing warmth to hearts otherwise turned to stone.

We look ahead and we wonder, what now? If a flag bearer who is leading a charging army falls, it is expected that a comrade will pick up the flag and carry on.

Rebbetzin Jungreis taught us so much, tempered her life’s hardships with optimism, opening a path for many of us to better understand God’s plan for the Jewish people. In a way, Rebbetzin Jungreis prepared us for this moment when we’d have to pick up that flag and move forward without her.

In her best-selling book “The Committed Life,” Rebbetzin Jungreis wrote, “To be sure, life is cyclic. At one time or another every one of us will be confronted with difficult and painful challenges. Our reactions and how well we cope will depend upon our spiritual resources.”

And how to find those resources was what she taught all of us for all of these years.

May we all practice what she taught us, bringing an aliyah to her neshama. Baruch Dayan HaEmet. May her memory be a blessing.

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