Thursday, February 29, 2024

A Farewell to Ellen from Rabbi Simkha Weintraub


A Prayer/A Psalm at the Funeral of Rabbi Ellen Bernstein zts’l


It is good to give thanks for Rabbi Ellen Bernstein/HaRav Nehamah bat Etta v’Pinhas

Who leaves this life too soon for us, and passes on to the Garden of Eden,

which she will certainly till and probably enhance.

“And Adonai/God took the Human and put the Human into the Garden to till it and to guard it.”

(Genesis 2:15)

May the colors of Ellen’s garments and jewelry, flowers and plants, dishes and travel

Bless and rebuild our assaulted planet, from Kibbutz Be’eri to Zaporizhzhia,

from Gaza to benighted American zip codes,

from bursting refugee camps to razed forests, choked oceans, and decimated species.

“The Heavens are Heavens of the Holy One, but Earth was given by God to humankind.”

(Psalm 24:1)

God, give Ellen the power to empower those who truly value and respect Earth,

Who see the whole of our planet as Holy,

And seek to live on it with reverence, awe, and responsibility.

Introduce our dear Ellen to the Matriarchs and Patriarchs, to Hagar, to Serach bat Asher,

to Shifra and Puah, Miriam, Pharaoh’s daughter, and Yael.

Arrange banquets with Tzelophhad’s daughters, and those of Rashi and Mordecai Kaplan;

Brunch with Eleanor Roosevelt and Bella Abzug, Afternoon tea with Gluckel of Hamelin,

Dinner with Margaret Mead, Rachel Carson, and Henrietta Szold.

Under Your sheltering Sh’khinah, may Ellen find not just rest but peace and renewal,

Not only comfort but creative freedom and discovery,

Stellar insights, and radiant innovations.

I want You to know, God, that Ellen asserted M’hayei haMeitim loudly in a Reconstructionist

minyan in Philadelphia – affirming that You do, or will, revivify the deceased,

And so we request that You acknowledge her traditional and yet rebellious affirmations.

“Praise Adonai from the earth, sea monsters and all deeps;

Fire and hail, snow and smoke, stormy wind executing God’s command;

The mountains and all hills, the fruit trees and all cedars,

The wild animals and all cattle, creeping things and flying birds…”

(Psalm 148:7-10)

Enliven our memories of Rabbi Ellen,

Not only for our own savoring, but for the sake of the world itself.

Amen v’Amen, Halleluyah!

(Rabbi Simkha Y. Weintraub, Feb 29, 2024)

Photo: Steven Tennenbaum

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