June 14, 2024
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The Mystique of a ‘Celebrity’ Dying

Yesterday, the Glick women, Malkie, Chavie, Dena and I, were made aware of the fact that in honor of the 40th anniversary of the production “Grease,” a special quiz was shared, assuming that most people would not remember nuances from a musical from the ‘80s. The author of the quiz sort of dared people to see what they still remembered. Not surprisingly, every one of us Glick girls got perfect scores. As one of my daughters said, “I am embarrassed that I did so well.” I thought it was quite funny and to this day wonder how I didn’t cringe when my children ran around the house singing together with Sandra Dee as she proclaimed that she was “lousy with virginity.” Oh my gosh, how did we allow our children to listen to this, even though they had no idea what they were singing? The answer was that our daughter Naama loved, and I cannot emphasize the word enough, watching the movie “Grease.” I would say that she must have watched it at least once or twice a week. Our one TV and VCR (for those who remember what that was) stood in Naama’s room. Our other children had the privilege of having Naama as a sister and got to watch much more TV than they ever would have been allowed under normal circumstances.

On the very same day that this quiz was posted, the tragic passing of John Travolta’s (lead in the movie) wife Kelly Preston lost her fight against breast cancer at the age of 57. Yes, it was sad, as it is when anyone passes away, but I am always amazed by the reaction of the public when a well-known personality from the secular world passes away. The unusual interest in these cases that have absolutely no personal connection with our lives is mind boggling.

How many of us spent hours discussing with our children or friends the accomplishments of the Novominsker, Rav Yaakov Perlow, who succumbed to the coronavirus a few months ago? Did we tell our children stories about his life? I, for one, had the privilege of meeting his rebbetzin and sharing some precious moments with her on several occasions. It is likely that most of you are not aware of the fact that the Perlows had a son with special needs. It was over their concern for families who were in similar situations that Rebbetzin Perlow began Women’s League Community Residences, which have now transitioned to the name Makor Disability Services. Thousands of families have benefited from their foresight.

How many local families that have lost loved ones have we all made the effort to reach out to? Many feel that the spouses and families of the bereaved want to have privacy, and in some cases they do. Small acts of kindness in situations that place us in uncomfortable positions are not easy to follow through on. I have seen, over the years, people actually cross the street when they see someone walking toward them who has lost a loved one.

Now as a part of the Three Weeks, we should each attempt to challenge ourselves to be better at some of the things we have found most difficult in the past. And please, when in conversation with someone who has recently lost a loved one, remember to never say, “I know what you are going through.” No one knows what another feels, and for sure the bereaved does not want to hear that. I have experienced, in other situations, the same hurtful words many times and it is downright painful. Frequently there are times when there is nothing to say, and in that case, simply offering comfort makes the most sense.

Perhaps I have come across the reason that it is so much easier to concentrate on a publicly known personality. In fact, we have no connection with them, and their lifestyle is so far away from ours that there is almost a sort of glamor attached to it.

Again, during the Three Weeks, let us use this as a time to overcome our own fears by reaching out to those who are mourning and let them be the one to decide what sort of comfort they desire. This is the period when we can each choose a small chunk of discomfort from ourselves and work on turning it into what it really should be: a source of comfort for someone else.


Nina Glick lives in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for special needs young adults. She can be reached at [email protected].

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