Honoring Marcel, the Deceased

Ways I Have Honored the Soul of the Deceased, 

by Joy Krauthammer
July 2012

Since Marcel, z"l, died, I have consciously continually honored his memory, his Neshama, in all traditional ways and also non tradional ways.
It is important to me to traditionally have a Jewish child NAMED after a deceased loved one.
Marcel's and my daughter, Aviva, is named for my mother, Libby, z"l. With traditional wisdom of naming, I spoke to my rabbis and daughter and son-in-law of the importance of a baby's name and Neshama / soul.

One week ago when I was visiting (during a major hurricane and, oy, a week-long blackout), Marcel's first grandchild, when baby Maya Sage was two weeks old-- her parents accompanied her to her local Maryland synagogue (Ohr Kodesh), when Torah was being read. Aviva and baby had a traditional MiSheberach prayer said for them, while Brett went 'up to Torah' and had an Aliyah. Aviva benched Gomel, as is traditional following birth of baby to thank the Holy One.
At the Torah, Baby was given the Hebrew name of Maya Nechama, named for her grandfather Marcel, Menachem Elimelech, z'l. Amayn. Both Nechama and Menachem translate to 'comfort'.
Maya Sage is also named for her other 3 deceased great-grandparents, z"l, whose names begin with "S".
Maya peacefully slept the entire time, not requesting her regular milk meal.
Baby Maya Sage will also soon have a Simchat Bat at another synagogue, a large joyous Jewish baby girl's celebration with friends and paternal family in MA.
Younger baby Eliana Jade has been named for other relatives in need of the naming honors. (Jade for Yosef, Joy's father, z"l.)

This naming act with Marcel's name, is the final remaining significant act that could be done in honor of Marcel. 
He must be smiling in Shmayim.
~ ~ ~

I ensured that Marcel had a proper Jewish burial, with Tahara, Shomer, and Tachrichin by Chevra Kadisha, and I designed and ordered a kosher casket.
I paid for a pleasant cemetery plot in a Jewish cemetery.
I arranged for rabbis and honorary pall bearers that Marcel would like, as we had discussed years before.
I arranged for a funeral time so that disabled brother could come in time.
I arranged for the Mourner's Kaddish and a Minyan in full accordance with Jewish law and tradition.
I arranged for males in different cities to regularly say Kaddish.
For Marcel's levaya / funeral, I wrote a loving invite letter to all.
I arranged funeral procession through a fire-lit memorial garden so that Marcel's Neshama could find comfort.
I had traditional mourning rites with Kriah / a torn garment and ribbon.
I sat Shiva and covered mirrors.
For viewing by mourners and guests, I arranged tables of Marcel's memorabilia and photos of him.
I arranged for shiva meals for guests, and for us to be hosted at friends' home.
I arranged for obituaries for Marcel. I had Marcel honored in the press.
I answered all condolence correspondence and shared with his friends, family and colleagues.
I give Tzadakah in Marcel's name.
I donated a bronze memorial plaque in Marcel's name at Chabad.
I had a candle lit in a synagogue (Chabad) every day for the first year, in honor of his departed soul.
Marcel's name was also recited in synagogues across the globe, Maryland, Boston, New York and Israel at Hadassah Hospital.
I purchased his Bar Mitzvah Parsha to be written in a new Torah at Shomrei Torah Synaogue.
Additional Parshas were also written by his mother, and by Aviva at her shul.
I planted purple iris flower-filled gardens in Marcel's name at LA's Barlow Respiratory Hospital.
For Marcel, I very carefully and conscientiously designed, and purchased a beautiful Matzeivah / gravestone, and also a pillowblock/a head stone. I continue to clean the grave stone and make sure that plot is cleaned of debris.
Marcel had requested only a standing granite stone, per family history; I had to settle for a flat stone, trying to appease his Neshama.
I arranged for and led a loving Hakamat Matzeivah unveiling full ceremony, with friends and family present.
My Mitzvot increased in his name, and I inspired my daughter to do the same.
I studied Torah in the name of Marcel.
Books were donated in the memory of Marcel.
Each year In synagogue during Pesach, Shavuot, Shemini Atzeret, and Yom Kippur, I have recited Yizkor/memorial prayer.
Every year on his Yahrzeit, I say prayers in shul, give tzadakah / charity, and at Marcel's grave, recite Psalms.
I regularly visit the gravesite on yahrzeits and chagim / holidays.
I invite his friends to visit, and they accompany me.
I place a pebble on the gravestone to mark my presence.
I prepare pebbles for others to leave their mark.
I call our daughter from the gravesite and on speaker have her say hello.
(My daughter visits with Brett and also with baby Maya Sage Nechama Sivan (and now newest baby Eliana Jade.)
I plant by the gravestone.
I clean the gravestone of debris.
I paid for the gravesite to be cared for, without weeds or overgrown.
Marcel's gravesite has a granite bench to sit on. Colorful trees (Crepe Myrtle and Italian Cypresses) to enjoy, shrubs (red berry Nandina) and many day lily tuber flowers. Hawks soar overhead the hills.
On Marcel's yahrzeits, I bring to shul, Chabad of Northridge (where Marcel served as Ba'al Koreh for 18 years), for the rabbi to read to Shacharit morning assembled congregation -- a heavy over sized book called  "Divrei Shulim" ~ The Wisdom of Shulim Krauthammer: Letters to his sons,  1974-1984. The rabbi reads a teaching in the book on the Torah's Parsha, that was hand-written each week by Shulim based on weekly learning with his renowned teacher, Rabbi Yosef Soleveichik, z"l, and desiring to share that wisdom with his sons. Marcel's parents, Shulim and Thea, were devoted to him and his brother.
(I still have the original letters sent to Marcel from the time we were married.)
I send a letter to our friends reminding them that with gratitude, I recall their chesed and devotion to us during Marcel's 18 years of challenging cancer.
I created a photo and story-filled website in Marcel's memory.
I have scanned photos of Marcel for family, friends and website.
I created a large memory book for Marcel.
For Marcel's first few Yahrzeits, in his memory, I organized and played at musical events.
In Marcel's name, I created and donated Hope art for a Holocaust quilt.
In Marcel's name, I created Memorial Flame cards to comfort the bereaved.
A new baby, Maya Sage Nechama, has been named in Marcel's memory. Amayn.
I made a contribution, tzedakah, to that naming synagogue for Marcel's Neshama and Hebrew baby naming.
In Marcel's name, z"l, I stood up for him and fought for Tzedek / justice until met.
For Marcel and his mother, I speak weekly to her for Shabbat.

I have personally lived in the best possible sense with honorable midot / personal attributes and mitzvot in how Marcel was created in the image of G*d, and in his actions, I am conscious of emulating Marcel, especially where he cared about friends and would immediately come to their help when needed.
I have created photo art in the memory of Marcel. 

In her father's memory, Aviva has organized years of 'Tot Shabbats' with Torah teachings at her synagogue.
I have carefully written out family Trees with Marcel's ancestors, z"l, and descendants and shared Family Tree with family. 
Links to memorials that Aviva and I have held for Marcel, Ilui Neshamot, may his Neshamah have a continued Aliyah:

I have given to Aviva, the beautiful silver hand-crafted Tzedakah box I purchased in Jerusalem for Marcel.
With love and traditional loyalty,
a new Bubbie,
and widow (Yes, 6 1/2 years later, I've now used the "w" word)
Joy Krauthammer

I leave Marcel's golf balls in the garden where I find them, even 7 years later.
Dec. 20, 2013, 17 Tevet 5774

Marcel's, z'l, 8th yahrzeit today. 

Spoke to mother-in-law, and children.  Went to one of shuls / Chabad where Marcel served as Ba'al Koreh. Acknowledged his lit memorial plaque.  Appreciative of memories shared in shul by friend Larry; annual ritual that warms my heart.  Gave tzedakah.  More mitzvot in Marcel's name.  Made memorial collage for Aviva and sent it.  Thanked cousin Bruce for saying Kaddish at his shul, as family did last night on East coast. Studies Torah. Viewed left over golf ball still sitting under rose bush in my garden since at least a decade ago from before Marcel was paralyzed.   :)

I 'm grateful our friend Brian went to cemetery with me, as he does every year, and cleaned gravestone, rubbing off salt from water. Since stone is flat, it is ruined by the elements. We left stones. I feel the years.

Flickering memorial candle was color of sunrise. Made more art and share this with you below.

BlesSings, JOY

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