By Inna Rogatchi, Times of Israel—
As it happened, the Yom Kippur 5780, in October 2019, was the last normal pre-covid service that we, and so many others, attended.
We were very lucky at the time, and the meaning of that luck, and that light originated at the moment, has become seen by us in a perspective. As it happened normally.
In October 2019, my husband Michael and I were invited to attend Yom Kippur service by Rabbi Jonathan Sacks and our dear friend Rabbi Lionel Rosenfeld who was serving until recently as a Senior Rabbi at the Western Marble Arch Synagogue in London. The very Synagogue where Rabbi Sacks was serving for many years before he became the Chief Rabbi of the UK, and where he was administering the High Holidays always.
We were invited not only to join dear friends for the most memorable and important services opening the forthcoming year, but also to remember together the man whom Rabbi Sacks, Rabbi Rosenfeld and us did love and missed dearly, Leonard Cohen.
I have written about that most beautiful and unforgettable Yom Kippur in London with Rabbi Sacks as it happened, two years ago. The essay How to Speak With the Creator in a Low Voice can be read here.
The covid pandemic did strike the world shortly after. It was the last of huge, fantastic, one-of-the-kind High Holiday services at our beloved Western Marble Arch Synagogue till this year. It was also the last time when we saw, spoke and spent some time together with Rabbi Jonathan Sacks.
So very often, Michael remembers how Rabbi Jonathan and Lady Elaine and us departed. “After we said ‘Good bye, good night, seeing you soon’, Rabbi Jonathan was looking at us in a special way. Although we were about to move and actually started moving away from him and Lady Elaine, he was staying there still, not moving. He was looking at us both in that special way that I have noticed momentarily and do remember ever since. Was he parting with us, for good?..” – Michael thinking all the time after that so special, so meaningful, so soft and thoughtful departure from the Sacks couple on the late evening in the London well-known hotel after the end of the Yom Kippur service 5782, 2019. It was the last public Yom Kippur service administered by Rabbi Sacks. Of course, he knew his severe diagnoses already then, as the medical trouble was continuing for him for years.
Michael loved Rabbi Jonathan dearly, as many of the people all over the world do, and he feels so much in-tuned into his way of thinking and relating his thoughts. In his turn, Rabbi Sacks – as Leonard Cohen, too – did like what Michael is doing, his art, very much, and understood it deeply. There has been some special bond between the men, of that special deep mutual understanding, and that very rare in our life organic gentleness, if not tenderness towards each other. A day or so before, Michael gave to Rabbi Jonathan and lady Elaine his very special work which he did, based on my authored print, specifically for Rabbi Sacks. It was a metaphorical portrait of Moses referring to the quality of Moshe Rabbeinu mentioned in the Torah: ‘ And the face of Moses was radiating light’. Continue Reading….