top of page

A depth of emotion and a depth of thought that is not often encountered

An obituary in memory of Grandpa Manny (Menachem Mendel Emanuel Wolf) Dina's father, who died on Lag B'Omer 1983

In the first moments after Manny's death, Bernice said: ״He was a very big man. He was not recognized, but he was a great man״. I also think so. The circumstances of his life were not such that led him to the Beit Midrash nor to the Brotherhood of Life whose sanctity is visible. Nor did a life of peace and tranquility, on the contrary, the troubles of his life knew no bounds - time and time again he fell victim to physical illnesses that threatened his life - from his youth during World War II and subsequent years, his life was tumultuous and tumultuous. Economic distress, physical distress and mental distress.

A few years ago he revealed to me that at a certain moment he was standing on an abyss and faced with the choice of whether to continue this life of suffering, or God forbid, to cease. Then at that awful moment, from the depths of his soul came the voice - a voice that confirms life. True, not in the sacred language was the voice expressed in the beginning, but the whole was sacred. A voice that says "they" to life. Animating life - unconditionally and without limit. And though the voice was silent at first, hesitant and hidden - but from the day it was heard - it did not cease to mark Manny's life. In his darkest hours - new life forces emerged to help him overcome and he learned how to live.

This belief has won - not a belief in God or religion - at least not in the formal sense, but a belief in life. This belief grew. Time and time again he has been attacked by the forces of nature and his condition is desperate, and here he is resurrected - new, fresh forces break out and elevate him from the deadly cradle. Time and time again the complications of illness and the complications of medication cause unbearably difficult mental states, and here he is resurrected, waves of joy and contentment wash over him, filling his corpse and illuminating his face.

Manny did not deliver speeches, he did not use big words. In simple English he conveyed a depth of emotion and a depth of thought that is not often encountered.

Who can express the pain and loss? Who can take it upon himself to describe the man who was with us so fully - and who left us with tears and flutes inside, left us, it seems, in the middle of the road. I, for one, can not even try to encompass the life of this great man. Still, I also can not remain silent, because there are things that are forbidden - that can not be said.

When, five years ago, we visited Manny and Bernice in America, I was first impressed by Manny's good heart, his smile, his sincerity. Everyone who knew him knew how warm it was to be in his company. His presence was always felt, whether he spoke or chose not to - his warmth, his being, his caring were always evident.

But during and after that spring, when he came to visit us in Israel and when he and Bernice made an aliyah to Israel, I discovered something much deeper, much deeper - something I find it very difficult to describe in words even to formulate it into thoughts. Manny told me about his youth, being a soldier and after the war, the difficult times that befell him and his unbearable internal struggle between despair and faith, and he told me about victory in full - how to live the present, the moment, not in the superficial sense.

Manny knew how to live a whole life in one moment, at a glance. How to enjoy so much the love of his children and grandchildren, that it seems like the love of years, of generations, of eternity. He was real and honest with himself, inwardly, did not work for whim and urge, for imaginations and dreams, but honest in the deepest sense of the word, for he knew and felt throughout his being that life was worthy of living.

He did not use the words of the Torah or the words of religion, but his belief in the sanctity of life, of every moment in life, permeated every cell in his being.

This knowledge, this feeling, this belief, were the essence of Manny's life. This was what aroused in his wife the deepest respect and devotion, respect and devotion which in themselves could not but arouse admiration.

And it is this belief, this confirmation of life, that has brought the desire and the decision to live life even more - to return to our homeland, the land of our ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob - the land of life. From the depths of the subconscious, from the depths of the soul, the voice is heard, directed, demanded, encouraged. Back - Back to the people of Israel, back to the Land of Israel. Come home - come to the source and spring from which life emanates - the life you have learned to love and cherish so much.

Manny and Bernice heard the voice. Their rise was, to the superficial observer, a complete revolution in their way of life, in their way of thinking, but in reality, it was the climax, the logical conclusion, of everything they had lived, everything they had gone through so far.

The difficulties of immigration, the trials and tribulations experienced by every immigrant, did not go unnoticed by Manny and Bernice, but even in the face of the most difficult trials, their inner peace remained unshakable. They knew what patience is and what heroism is. They knew they had come to live, to multiply a thousand times the sparks of life that had filled them. How hard Manny worked on learning the Hebrew language - he was too shy to speak, but absorbed a lot into it every day. How he enjoyed Saturday with the grandchildren - his laughter filled the apartment. And how much they loved him - to climb on him and play with him and laugh with him.

Some excitement from the house that was almost completed - the house in Ma'ale Adumim. Manny was so alive, so full of good spirits that expelled every shadow.

Then, on his last Saturday, when the debate turned to the political situation in America, he suddenly stopped and with an expression of disgust shouted: 'What do I care about America. I'm Israeli now. Israel is my home and that's all that matters now. 'That was his most sincere feeling.

There were no problems, but inside he was calm. He was at home. Out of desperation, Manny reached the pinnacle of faith in life. Then - he left us - desolate and crying - hoping it was just a nightmare - straining our ears to hear again his hearty laughter, his simple wisdom - and he continued his journey alone, unstoppable from the smallest and final - from station to station, always rising - always returning and his memory always present in our hearts.


bottom of page