November 2006 - Volume 11, Issue 4

In Loving Memory: Constance Marcus Hurvitz

By Rabbi Mitchell Hurvitz

Photo of an elderly man sitting on a benchWhen we become old, most of us are concerned for our dignity. We worry that with our advanced years, we will be less than who we presently are.

A Talmudic sage once taught: "Some of us will have the dignity of old age without the length of days, while others of us will have the length of days without the dignity of old age; but the best achievement we would wish for will be the dignity of age coincided with our long life."

On Wednesday, July 28, my family said a final goodbye to Constance Marcus Hurvitz (1907-2006). We acknowledged the living embodiment of a woman who always possessed dignity in her old age.

My Bubbye (Yiddish for grandmother), a few days shy of turning 99, returned to her Maker. We acknowledged graveside the end of an era. With her passing, we buried the last of eight children.

My Bubbye, with her siblings, represented a generation that was distinctly different. Fleeing Eastern Europe, they came through Ellis Island in hopes of pursuing the American dream. Through their hard work, loyalty to each other and the absolute determination to make a better life for their children, they succeeded in witnessing the dream come to fruition.

As the oldest of six grandchildren, my life was blessed to be intertwined with that of my Bubbye and Zayde(grandfather). Like many grandchildren, I only knew unconditional love. She was the gateway to the "Old World," a portal to a simpler time. Whether it was through her amazing cooking, simple amusements, casual conversation and constant acts of love and kindness, Bubbye helped not only to form the identity of her own two sons, but also her grandsons.

Yiddish existed for me because of my Bubbye. Judaism was practiced not as a religion, but simply as a way of life. She was kind and always present.

When thinking of Bubbye, Proverbs 31 begins to do her justice:

What a precious find is the woman of valor!
Her worth is far beyond rubies.
Her family puts their confidence in her, and lacks no good thing.
She is good to them, never bad, all the days of her life...
She opens her hand to the needy, and extends her hand to the poor...
Her tongue is guided by kindness, as she oversees the activities of her household, and never eats the bread of idleness.
Her family comes forward and bless her, saying: "many women have done superbly, but you surpass them all".

She was Bubbye, not just to her blood relations, but to all the children who knew her, and would have come forward to bless her. Although recent years saw Bubbye as quiet and sedate, in my memories, she is always colorful. Bubbye was the wild flower bursting from the terrain, blooming in all seasons, brightening our landscape.

Although we lay her in the earth, I know that like the returning wildflower, her spirited voice will always echo in my heart, and among all the people she touched during her lively precious life journey.

My own children only glimpsed who she was when they sang fragments of a Yiddish song they learned in school about love. They didn't know the whole translation, but with Bubbye, we know it was always about love.

May my Bubbye's memory, and the memories of all our loved ones, eternally be for a blessing.

B'Shalom (in peace).

This artical used with permission from Rabbit Mitchell Hurvitz