A number of us watched the funeral services for Her Majesty Queen Elizabeth on Monday morning. I was so struck by the exactitude of execution of each element of this service, the dignity and grace of the services, and by the sheer magnificence of the honours offered to her. This service truly was unlike anything any of us will see again in our lifetimes.
As Aaron and I stood during the Committal service in St. George’s Chapel we could not help but be deeply moved by the all-too public presence of her beloved children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren. We lost a Queen, but they each lost their beloved mother and Grannie.
Hers was a life well lived, a life of duty, but also a life of delight in the very small things of life that move us all – her corgis, her pony standing near Windsor as the cortege marched by, her Guardsman who walked her very heavy lead-lined coffin through each section of the services dedicated to her honour. I was struck also by the elements of propriety, an element we often recognize more in absence than presence.
Our own tradition demands similar notions of honour and respect, certain proprieties. I am sometimes asked what should be worn to Shabbat services, to Rosh Hashanah services? What is correct to do/wear at a funeral? How should I acknowledge shiva? What should I say? All these many and sometimes seemingly trivial duties of respect are important markers of attention to our lives as Jews. In this age of casualness, our Jewish tradition reminds us to stop, and feel the blessing and demand of being part of that larger humanity. With respect.
This week I asked my students in our B’nei Mitzvah class how they could be a mensch – several agreed the best one thing they could do is call their Bubbe more often. As we watched the Queen’s coffin lower to her final rest, we acknowledge that calling our Bubbe, or our mother, or our grandchildren is one small way to build our lives into deeper love, deeper honour. Thank you each dearly for this wisdom.
I wish each of you a sweet year to come, a life of respect, of dignity and of loving connection.With great honour and affection,