Private Meditation on the Death of a Beloved Public Figure

A beloved teacher, I didn’t get the chance to know Rabbi Aaron Panken z’l. Yet from everything written about him — from obituaries to Facebook posts — knowing him would have been an immense blessing. I wrote this months ago and hadn’t gotten around to posting it. The idea, which came from a friend, was that in the flow of beautiful, communal, public mourning, one could forget that private and small group moments of mourning are also important to the grieving process. It seems to me that posting this in his memory would be a fitting tribute.

Private Meditation on the Death of a Beloved Public Figure
Source of blessings,
Deal kindly with the soul of ________________ (name)
Who left a legacy of ________________ (one-word description, e.g.: Torah, music, dance, diplomacy…)
In this world,
A legacy of love, care and inspiration,
A legacy for the generations.

Rock of comfort,
So many were touched by him/her,
As was I,
And grief casts a shadow over my heart.
Even as he/she is celebrated publicly,
With honors and praises due,
Hear my personal prayer,
My private grief and loss.
Let his/her memory become a light
For the days and years ahead.
And let those memories, private and public,
Grow stronger with the passing time,
Becoming a well of consolation.

G-d of all being,
Grant a perfect rest under Your canopy of peace to him/her.
May his/her soul be bound up in the bond of life,
A living blessing in our midst.

© 2018 Alden Solovy and All rights reserved.

Postscript: I wrote this at the suggestion of a friend. It’s rare that I can’t remember — or find a note telling me — who gave me the idea for a particular piece. If it’s you, I apologize and please send me a private message of some kind so I can fix this.

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