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‘Your Presence Filled Our Hearts’

Ami Ami Farkas with children at Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein's funeral. (Photo: Olivier Fitoussi)

The Fellowship’s Ami Farkas shared these kind and loving words for Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein during his funeral, telling how the rabbi’s constant love and support for his family has inspired Ami.

To Saba (grandfather) Yechiel,

I wasn’t sure if I was going to talk today, but how could I not say goodbye? How could I not express so much gratitude? You helped shaped my life in so many profound ways, and I forever will be indebted to you. I’ll never forget the first time we met; it was at dinner in Manhattan. I’m assuming you were being honored. I recall feeling that I just don’t fit into this scene. Everyone was so classy and so sophisticated, and I showed up with my only striped, creased button-down shirt tucked into my creased, striped pants and worn out shoes. I recall how you sat down to talk to me in a room full of VIPs, yet you spoke to me as though I was the only person that mattered to you.

Last night I went for a long walk, and I thought about so many things I loved most about you. I’ll start with your voice, which is always the first thing that we heard even before you walked through the door. And I remember when Mayora was born. Yael and I were sitting quietly in our room in at Hadassah Ein Kerem (Hadassah Hospital) and all of a sudden we hear your beautiful voice, “where’s my granddaughter! Has anyone seen Yael? What room is she in?” Well, Yael and I looked at each other and we just laughed. We knew that you couldn’t be far behind. And as soon as you walked into the room, or any room for that matter, your contagious smile, your child-like eyes full of curiosity and mischief filled the room with your comforting presence.

And your presence filled our hearts, and the hearts of so many, with the feeling of security and love. You were a champion. And you were our champion always at our side, supporting us and helping us believe in ourselves during every milestone of our lives.

I recall before I became a father, I watched how you interacted with your daughters Tamar, Talia, and Yael. I took mental notes of how you expressed your love for your children. How you placed your loving hands on their heads to bless them – and how you would make them come to life with your love and sweet kisses on their heads. I learned a lot from those moments and I decided that I would try to emulate your love for your girls with my kids.

Your love for us, for your daughters, for our family, for Joelle was so strongly felt. It breaks my heart, Saba, that my children, nieces, and nephews will have to continue on with only memories.

I have a lot more to say to you, Abba, yet for now I reserve those conversations in my heart, which I will pour out during long walks in the fields, and I will think of you at our house, strumming the guitar, singing with your angelic voice, and beaming with nachas (or “pride”). You know every morning we would say, “These are the precepts that have no prescribed measure; the corner of a field (which must be left for the poor), the first fruit offering, the pilgrimage, acts of kindness, and Torah study.”

You truly illustrated how there are no bounds to your love, no limit to your kindness; and in return, our love for you, our memories and connection to you, will never ever wane. We love you.

Tags: Reflections on Rabbi Eckstein

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