When she first walked into our synagogue I was struck by her beauty. Not the beauty most of us think of when we look through the pages of the magazines. It was a deep beauty that only comes from a lifetime of living. Her hair was all white and her eyes shined. I was immediately drawn to this woman that I had never seen before. It was the beginning of Yom Kippur which is one of the holiest days of the year for those of the Jewish faith, so I was not surprised that I hadn’t seen her before. This is the service that a Jew would attend if he or she were ever to pick a once a year service. She sat down a row in front of me and to the left of me. She spoke with those around her and hugged several, so I knew she was probably a temple member, I just hadn’t noticed her before. I could here her say the common greeting of the day: “L’Shanah Tovah!” which translates to Happy New Year.
A nurse had followed her in with a very frail man in a wheelchair. Her eyes smiled upon this man, that I assumed must be her husband. As the nurse put his wheelchair in the aisle on locked the brakes the woman with the white hair gave her a smile and a wink and whispered thank you to the helping nurse.
My mind was on the meaning of this important holy day of repentance and prayers to Adonai, but my eyes kept watching the husband and the wife.
She held his hand tenderly during the two and a half hour service and at the end of the service she whispered in his ear and then kissed him tenderly on his face.
The beauty of the moment struck me deeply. The love between this man and woman was probably nurtured by their lifetime of love and their sharing of their Jewish faith.
Tears ran down my cheek as I watched the love between them.
I went home thinking about them and when I returned to service the next morning I sat and was happy to see them both return. This time as the nurse arranged the wheelchair I watched as the woman removed the tallit (a jewish prayer shawl) from the bag she wrapped him lovingly in it. It was such a beautiful act of love and respect as he could no longer do it himself. She said the prayer over him and kissed him.
Again I was moved to tears as I witnessed this act. The service ended around 1 and I was speaking with friends so I didn’t get to see where they went. I was hoping that they would return again because I wanted to meet this woman.
During the afternoon I thought about what I had seen and felt from this couple. I returned for the afternoon services at 4 pm and sat down and within a few minutes the woman with the beautiful face sat down in the first pew. I waited for the wheelchair but it didn’t come. She sat alone. I watched and waited. As I sat there I felt compelled to let her know that I was touched by what I had witnessed. I didn’t know what I wanted to say exactly, but felt I had to let her know that I appreciated their sweet relationship.
As I approached she smiled and her face was even more beautiful close up. I introduced myself and explained that I noticed her and her husband and I was touched by the love I witnessed. I told her I was moved to tears. Her face lit up and she grabbed my hand and told me her name and that her husband is the love of her life and she doesn’t want to lose him. She told me even though he doesn’t even really know her any more she still loves him so much and doesn’t want to let him go. I told her she was beautiful and then I sat down.
It felt good to share in the life of another person, but even better when partway through the service she looked around and spotted me and then came over and whispered in my ear. The rabbi had just spoke about listening for messages from God and she said to me…you know how the rabbi told us to watch for messages from God? I shook my head yes. She went on to tell me that today was a really hard day for her and her husband was too weak to come back to service but she felt she needed to come back to temple for the afternoon service. She held my hand and said softly to me…you my dear are my messenger from God. Thank you, thank you for coming to me and telling me what you did. She squeezed my hand and we both cried together.