Last Shabbat was my grandfather’s yahrzeit. My Zaide, Bertram Hurowitz, made Aliyah at the age of 90 to be closer to three of his children living in Israel. Each year, the family visits his grave on Kibbutz Sde Eliyahu and holds a memorial. This year was different. The yahrzeit fell on Shabbat, and COVID did not allow such a large gathering.
Instead, our family around the world gathered on Zoom. We called it the “Zaide Zoom.” Each family unit submitted pictures to be shared to all of our screens and spoke for 5 minutes on the impact that Zaide had on our lives. While my Zaide was from Philadelphia, today his children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren and great-great-grandchildren live in Los Angeles, Philadelphia, London, and the land of Israel. We are Jews of all observances, of different minds in how we think about the world. Yet, we are all descendants from our Zaide, Bertram Hurowitz.
Each Chanukah, Zaide would throw himself a birthday party. He was not known to be a party type, and he never celebrated himself. Rather, he celebrated others, his entire family who would gather on this one occasion. That was his simple message: Keep the family together.
On Wednesday evening we will commemorate Tisha B’Av, the destruction of the Temples in Jerusalem and other calamities that have befallen the Jewish people throughout history. The Rabbis teach that the destruction of the Temple was due to sinat chinam, senseless hatred, Jew vs. Jew.
The opposite is ahavat chinam, senseless love.
That is what I felt on the Zaide Zoom. Children, grandchildren, cousins, and parents, all united under the love of our Zaide, who understood that if family could stay together, the world will be a better place tomorrow.