Thank you Rabbi Berkson for your kind words. I know how close you and Cantor Barash both were to Herzl, and that the two of you, like the rest of us, are in deep mourning.
Thanks everyone for braving the elements and being here today in this beautiful sanctuary that meant so much to Herzl.
And thank you everyone who couldn’t make it here but are watching live.
I posted the sad news about Herzl’s passing on Facebook yesterday morning. In just over a day I’ve received over 200 personal messages and dozens of emails and texts offering words of comfort and support — and capturing what stood out about Herzl.
How gentle he was.
How learned and intelligent he was.
What a mensch he was.
How proudly Jewish he was.
How Herzl always gave you his undivided attention.
Which only reinforces the respect, the admiration, the love that friends and members of this community felt for Herzl.
No person I have ever met was more perfectly named than Herzl Spiro.
How fitting was it that less than a year after he and my mom met, they secretly ran off to get married…not to Las Vegas…not to Paris…but to Jerusalem?
Once they were married Brady Bunch style trips soon followed.
I think back to a disastrous family trip to Ixtapa, Mexico and surviving a massive earthquake… which Lev somehow managed to sleep through. And during which Mimi got the worst bout of sun poisoning imaginable.
But when I think of overseas travels, I think mostly of the countless trips and all the time Herzl and my mother spent together in Israel.
As many of you know Herzl and my mom had an apartment in the Kiryat Wolfson neighborhood of Jerusalem for over two decades. That is where they went to study together at the Pardes Institute. That is where my mom would produce the most spectacular drawings of their surrounding neighborhood. That is where they enjoyed their happiest times together.
My mom definitely got the Israel bug from Herzl… and for better or worse I did too.
I will always cherish the pride with which Herzl shared his family’s Israel story with Shimon Peres in the Israeli president’s residence when J Street took its first group of leaders to Israel in 2009. And I will never forget the generosity of spirit Herzl displayed, during the same trip, when Herzl thanked Palestinian families in the Old City of Hebron for providing refuge to his ancestors during the infamous Hebron massacre of 1929 when some 67 Jews and over two dozen of his family members were murdered; and then expressed remorse to them for Israel’s military occupation and the suffering their families were now enduring.
My mom and Herzl lived a life of spirituality and a life of meaning together, with a dose of adventure mixed in.
Mom — We know it was hard for you at the end but you should know how much Herzl loved you. He always worried about you and didn’t want you to be alone.
Mom — Please also know that Stacey and I, Beth and Gary, David and Abby, are always here for you, as are all of our children.
To David, Lev, Mimi and the entire Spiro family — Our hearts are broken for you, and we have a deep appreciation for the many special qualities that Herzl bequeathed to all of you. And we extend our love and our deepest condolences.
Stacey and I feel incredibly lucky to have been part of Herzl’s life as we raised a family in Milwaukee.
He was there with us for so many family simchas, and for some very hard times as well. He was there when the two of us were married, when Samantha, Benjamin and Adam were born, and right beside us on so many memorable occasions.
When Stacey was the building chair for this incredible sanctuary, Herzl was there, working side by side with mom and Stacey, working closely with the artist Tobi Kahn whose beautiful work is all around us. Herzl was determined to have this sanctuary built — and he got it done.
Herzl, you made such a huge difference in this community and you touched so many people in so many profound ways.
Herzl, we feel unbelievably fortunate to have been part of your life for the last 44 years.
May your memory be a blessing always, and may you rest in peace.