Hannah Abrams' Eulogy for Her Mother
Delivered at the funeral of Rabbi Abrams on October 24, 2014
"God Gets a Ten for My Mom"
First, thank y'all all for being here. There are a lot of tiny decisions to make when someone dies, but luckily, as I'm sure quite a few of you know, my mom has always been very clear about what she wanted on her epitaph: "did you say your b'racha?" (Rabbi Lyons approved it!)
For those of you who don't know, a b'racha is a blessing, which can be said on anything from thunder to going to the bathroom to crunchy peanut butter. There's even a blessing for tragedy, which is "Baruch Dayan Emet", blessed is the decider of truth. Mom always used to tell the story about how there are so many brachot to be said every day that one time, one of the Talmudic rabbis, I can't remember which one right now, tried-- made a conscious effort in every moment-- to say all of the blessings he was obligated to say, and only lasted one day.
I don't know if she ever scored a perfect day of brachot, but we've got a set of big bay windows at home, and every morning while I was half-asleep eating the breakfast she made me mom would look up at the sunrise and exclaim "Wow, God gets a ten today."
I think the mitzvah of saying brachot is not about getting them all... it's about trying. There are certainly moments in which I don't feel grateful for the things I'm blessing God for-- "Baruch Dayan Emet", today, being a prime example. But even if the truth of it is that some days the sunrise wasn't as subjectively beautiful as others, some days I sarcastically asked mom if she didn't think it was more of a 9.7, the "Emet", the truth of it is that the sun was still rising, and that is a miracle of itself. Today the decision doesn't feel like it was in our favor, but for 20 years I got a pretty cool mom, and Rabbi, and teacher, and student, and friend, and for that I can only be grateful. I think God gets a ten for my mom.
Mom always said she picked the epitaph because she wanted people to walk by it and get some use out of the thing. I know mom would also hope that y'all would all get some kind of lesson from being here today, and as such I'd like to proffer an option from her trademark mitzvah: if you take the time to be habitually grateful, even when you don't feel it, you'll start to realize that there's good and bad in everything, and no matter how good, or how bad, there's an Emet, a truth, to be blessed in everything. For my mom, I'd like to ask that everyone here aim, at least once, for one perfect day of brachot. You can make them up if you don't know the words.
Today the truth is tough. The beauty of it is, though, that we've still got her memory, and that so long as her legacy continues to teach and inform and take its place in the endless generations of students and teachers, I take solace in knowing that zichrona li'vracha-- her memory will be a blessing.
Thank you all again for being here.
Rabbi Abrams' Funeral
Rabbi Abrams' funeral was held on Friday, October 24, 2014 at Congregation Beth Israel in Houston, Texas.
If you are interested, you may listen to the entire funeral service.
The eulogies delivered by Rabbi Abrams' daughters, Ruth and Hannah, can be found at approximately 11:30 into the recording.