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Baruch Dayan Emet. A month ago exactly my dear mother Judy Prager passed away after nearly two years of illness, and the last month in a very serious condition in hospital.
Mum died on 4th June 2021, 25th Sivan 5781 on Friday night. The funeral was held on Sunday, 6th June, in Segula Cemetery in Petach Tikva.
My intention was to tell you all about my Mum and her life here but it is a daunting task. I will give you a short summary, and you can read the hespedim (eulogies) from her funeral, and from the Shloshim (30 day memorial service) and thus gain a deeper understanding of who Mum was.
Mum was born in Michelstadt, in the Odenwald in Germany on 7th May 1935. At the age of 3 the family moved to Frankfurt. After Kristallnacht and the arrest of my grandfather, who was incarcerated in Buchenwald, my grandmother sent Mum’s 3 older brothers to Holland on a kindertransport for safety. After my grandfather secured his release by paying a ransom to the Nazis, the family left for England. The 3 boys remained in Holland and were rounded up and murdered by the Nazis in Sobibor in 1943. You can read the story in my Family History pages.
Mum grew up in a very busy household in London with 4 younger sisters, 2 cousins rescued by my grandfather from Europe after the war, and assorted lodgers and visitors. After finishing school Mum learned to be a very skilled and talented dressmaker.
She met my father through the Jewish youth groups and got married when she was all of 19.
Mum was a very active member, and eventually honorary life member of her Emunah group both in England and then in Israel after my parents made aliya in 1992.
Besides her voluntary work in Emunah, Mum volunteered for 22 years, together with her sister Ruth, in the gift shop of Schneider hospital. Sometimes I think she kept the shop afloat by buying gifts for her multitudes of grandchildren and great-grandchildren. 🙂
Mum was a devoted wife and mother, running the house like clockwork and looking after our father (may he live to 120), all while instilling in us four children the values of her Jewish upbringing, a fierce love of Israel, and an outstanding sense of justice and fairness which stayed with her till her dying day.
She was also a very hands-on devoted grandmother and great-grandmother. Before my parents made Aliya, mum would keep a suitcase permanently half-packed, ready to fly at a moment’s notice whenever the travel agent would call her and ask her if she wanted to fly that afternoon since there had been a cancellation. Grandma’s arrival “from the sky” (where my children thought she lived!) was a highlight of my children’s childhood.
Mum took huge delight in her great-grandchildren too, and thought nothing of travelling cross-country with me to visit my own grandchildren living in their far-flung yishuvim.
Mum was a huge inspiration to me, especially in her love for Israel and her fervent defence of the country in the media and online. Her letters to the Jerusalem Post are legion and legendary. She, along with my father, gave me her blessing to leave home and make aliya alone to Israel, and I was so excited when 15 years later my parents joined me.
Mum was a huge supporter of my work on this blog and you can read her many comments here (as “JudyinPT”) particularly on my earlier posts.
I could go on and on but I will stop here, and post recordings and the transcripts of the hespedim from the levaya, followed by the Shloshim and the stone-setting which took place earlier today.
May Mum’s memory be blessed, may she be a melitzat yosher in Heaven for all of Am Yisrael.
יהודית בת יהודה ודיה, תהיה נשמתך צרורה בצרור החיים
The Levaya (Funeral)
You can watch a recording (apologies for the sound and video quality) of the levaya at this clickable link here.
Here are the Hespedim, in order of presentation:
My younger brother Mark
Rabbi Moshe Lifshitz (Rabbi of Mekor Chaim shul in Petach Tikva)
My niece Talya Brown
My older brother David.
I don’t have a transcript for Rabbi Lifshitz’s hesped. Here are the others:
Here is a recording of Henry singing El Maleh Rachamim at the Levaya:
Erev Limud for the Shloshim
We held an Erev Limud (an evening of learning and memories) on the shloshim, the 30th day after Mum passed away, the evening of 4th July 2021, 25th Tamuz 5781. It was a very moving event, attended by about 50 people, all family. My mum’s sister Eva and her husband Leo flew out from London (first time in a year and a half at least because of corona), and other cousins and relations drove in from all around the country.
It was a very sociable if poignant event, and I feel (hope) we did Mum proud.
We held the event in our shul hall, and several people spoke.
My nephew Chanan made a siyum.
My brother-in-law Eli spoke
My son Zvi spoke
My sister Reeva spoke
Henry sang El Maleh Rachamim again.
We broadcast the entire proceedings on Zoom for the benefit of our family members living abroad. Click on this link to watch it all.
Here is the transcript of Zvi’s beautiful speech:
Here are the transcripts of Reeva’s speech and my own:
Gilui Matzeva – the Stone-setting
At 5.30 pm. Israel time today, 5th July, 25th Tamuz, we held the ceremony of the גילוי מצבה – the “stone-setting”, dedicating the Matzeva (the gravestone) to Mum.
We began with the traditional Tehillim (psalms) said at the graveside, followed by Kaddish.
Then David read out the words on the Matzeva and explained their meaning.
Henry sang El Maleh Rachamim once again, and then David added a few words:
This was followed by the very large crowd of family and friends laying a stone on her grave as a sign of respect and memory. This brought to a close the month long period of mourning. For us children the mourning period will continue for a year.
May Mum z”l be a melitzat yosher for us and for all of Am Yisrael. May her memory be for a blessing.