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Journal Entry by Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick — December 27, 2015
This past Shabbos was so nice. Rachi & Ron, Lipman's , Jane, Carmalia, etc. sent over food for Shabbos. My son and grandchildren from New Jersey were here as well. It was a beautiful Shabbos of Divre Torah and Zmirot.
Sunday we were at Wilmot Cancer center for blood transfusion. I only needed platelets and we were there for around 2 hours. I came home exhausted but rested. My back started to feel better today as well.
I don't know how to thank you all enough for Tefillot, Prayers, cards, donations, from all my family friends and colleagues from across the world.
The only sad thing is that I will not be able to return to shul for another 3-5 months. I now understand King David's Lament (Psalm 27) .'One thing I ask of G-d , which is most important , is to dwell in the House of G-d and and to immerse myself in His pleasantness and to appreciate his Sanctuary'
I miss the daily minyan, Shabbos dovening. I am committed however to once again be able to be there, teach Torah, and to lead .
Love to all. Rabbi Kilimnick
His Child's Commentary & Lessons He Learned from Abba
People are commenting that they need Abba back in shul and they can't do it without him. That's a lot of pressure for somebody going through transfusions. Selfish. Trying to get him to work when he's down on platelets. 'You're a pillar of our community.' Others were not in town, so they said they won't go out of their way to visit, until they come back. They all wanted him back in shul. We still want him back in shul. Since Abba's move to Olam Haba, nothing is more apparent than Beth Sholom is his shul. His Neshama built the place, with my Mom. Their friendliness and energy. People wanted my father back in shul and he wanted to be there. That was his community that he built, and that he continued. He respected those people. Those who came before him. He saw so many of them as Tzadikim.
He has people rooting for him. Cancer is like a sport for these people. They want him to beat it. You root for the anti-cancer team.
There is some Chizuk, most of which is about Abba. There is expression of his leadership, even at this moment, how people appreciate it. But nobody could show that appreciation of the person more than Abba. I have never seen a rabbi respect their elders like my dad.
I always said, telling people that you are in remission was the worst idea. When my father got to remission, the congregants started coming to him with their complaints. It was endless. It's like they started stockpiling complaints from the time he got cancer. Notebooks full. Complaints like 'where were you?' was messed up.
Sunday Sunday. Abba loved Sundays. 'Everyday is Sunday at Carvel.' Sunday was family day when Abba was a kid. They would get in the car and visit family. One of his greatest stories of comedic prowess was when they would go to an event as a family in the middle of the week. He was a kid and when his mother would yell at his father, his father would respond in a frustrated tone, 'You're going to turn this into a Sunday?!'
That's comedy that touches the soul. Abba dealt on that level. That's what made him so funny. He touched people's souls. He would have people rolling in that soulful laughter, and when he felt it, he would keep bringing it.
Shabbat was great. There was food. We didn't see people, but we saw food. I think the food meant more to Abba than the people. As important as the community is to Abba, they are not brisket and lamb chops. It was so much better to see the food than them.
Abba always made Shabbat great. Shabbat in my house was living. It was always alive, thanks to my mother and father. My brother being there with his family is definitely what brought my father the true joy of Shabbat. He wasn't eating as much (still, just seeing food brought happiness- seeing a lot of food, as it should).
My brother took Zmirot (Shabbat songs) and Dvrei Torah (words of Torah thought) to the next level at the Shabbat meal. His family is bringing joy to Abba. I'm not a big fan of the elementary school Dvar Torah, where I have to listen to them read what the teacher told them in school that week. As the uncle, I am sitting there asking why they don't teach speed-reading at these places. The parents and grandparents love it. It's pure Nachis. As an uncle, I get Nachis seeing the kids enjoy brisket; I know that kid will be a good Jew.
All I can think, with so many people they could've sent more food.
'All I needed was platelets.' That's not a small thing. You need them to not bleed out everything. At this point, Abba's view on life was one of appreciation. He appreciated having the platelets. He appreciated Shabbat. He appreciated the doctors. He appreciated them more than anybody can imagine.
The way that Abba spoke about doctors, thank God at least one of his children made him proud. For me, he would have to justify my being a comedian with lines like, 'He's a joke surgeon. He dissects jokes.'
Always a bad back. You reach forty-five and you have a bad back. The rest of your life is suffered with a bad back. Some people make it to their 100s, with a bad back. You reach forty-five and all you want is a massage. You need massages and have a bad back.
'We were there.' That can mean two people or twelve people. That depends on how much family wanted to join in the cancer treatment celebration that day. Going for cancer treatments was an event in the beginning.
I remember the Wilmot Cancer Center. Great ginger ale and granola bars. They served that ginger ale with the crushed ice. So, our whole family showed. We had aunts and uncles coming in for granola. Word of crushed ice must've got out, as relatives that skipped Bar Mitzvahs showed.
Abba doesn't mention how much food we took off the cart. It was a lot.
That free stuff in the beginning of the cancer treatment was amazing. The problem is they didn't have enough food for our family and the people being treated as well. At a certain point, we had to let the cousins know that we had to cut off ginger ale requests at first cousins. Second cousins and anything with a 'removed' couldn't expect ginger ale and crushed ice.
Our whole family was showing up. It was a woman with a transfusion, another woman with a transfusion, a guy with a transfusion, Abba, my aunt reclining on the chair, a cousin chilling, myself on my computer, another four relatives eating pretzels, granola bars, and drinking ginger ale.
They had the sign they put up a week after we were there. 'Only two people allowed per patient.' They should've written, 'No more than two Kilimnicks. We don't have enough granola and crushed ice for everybody.'
It was at this time that Abba was already friends with the other people being treated. He made a community wherever he went.
The appreciation is there. Appreciation of people, of community, of their good. If there's something I learned as son of Abba, it's appreciation. It's Hakarat HaTov. Seeing the good in people and appreciating them. Appreciating their good. Teffilot (prayers), cards, donations. No idea where those donations went. That's still a mystery. Nobody donated to my parent's vacation fund. I didn't see any of that donation money.
It seems they gave money to whomever they wanted, then they said, 'And let that be in honor of Rabbi Kilimnick.' I think I saw one of the letters from the Jewish Federation in honor of Abba. It said, 'You will never see this money. Thank you for being sick.'
Not being at shul was extremely hard for Abba. He was a rabbi and remains the spiritual leader of his congregation. He lived that life in this world. He loved his shul, connected with his congregants. Him saying that he will pray in the shul alone with all of the people who have passed to Olam HaEmet is a testament to his character and commitment. He mentioned that sentiment countless times. His connection to shul was to the soul of the shul. His not being able to be there physically, hurt that commitment to the past generations. It's much easier to love congregants when you don't have to hear them complain.
Not being able to pray at shul meant Abba was praying at home. And when I visited, it made it harder to be loud in the house. Abba was taking a lot of time praying. I think it was his way of getting out of having to answer the phone.
It's that connection with the past, and respect, that makes Abba the pillar of the community. I would say, more of the root of the community.
Abba always brings Torah. That's his way. A true rabbi and spiritual leader. As King David only wanted to live in the Sanctuary of God. That was Abba. Only wanting to live in God's Sanctuary. The perfect Pasuk (sentence). He was amazing with finding the meaning in Torah. For me, dwelling in the House of God meant hanging out at home, watching TV. We each find our own meaning in the Torah.
He always had hope. Always hope. Always a commitment. A commitment to get back and lead and teach, and to be part of his community, his people. His commitment and desire to give was his hope. That's why he told people about remission. I told him not to, as they were waiting to pounce with issues.
And he did come back and lead. He led Musaf. Thank God, he led for more years.
As Abba would quote (can't quote the person Abba quoted- maybe Dr. Sobel) 'Healing is what's between the ears.' That means it's in the head. Not everybody catches onto that. Abba lived by that.
Positive Mental Attitude. I remember hearing that, when Abba was talking with a boxing promoter on the way back from the Kotel. The ideas the promoter shared of ducking and weaving didn't stick with me. However, I have took in that positive mental attitude that is necessary for a champion boxer. I would definitely get into that ring confident that I will get hurt.
Abba listened to people. Wanted to get to know them. And he shared their teachings and stories, no matter who they were. Everybody has something to offer, and Abba respected people. Every Jew is a holy Neshama (soul), and Abba believe that. So many stories from Shiva were about how Abba heard people for who they are. I wouldn't want to be judged like that.
Nobody met people like Abba. The greatest ability to connect with strangers. Truly connect. I come from a family that knows how to connect with people. A good family. It's good to know that my family is about community. My aunts and uncles are great community people too. They connect with people. As I saw, they will get to know the history of a stranger's life, if there's a chance they can score more ginger ale and granola.
Abba had a spiritual connection his people, his shul, his community. And he was loved for that. He loved people. Abba loved people and will forever love people. People and food.
Abba saw the good in people, even if their donations had nothing to do with him, other than his name. Even if they could've given more food, Abba appreciated their good. He learned from them all. And nobody more than his elder congregants.
מפני שיבה תקום והדרת פני זקן- ויקרא י"ט:ל"ב I hope my father is schepping some Nachis with my use of the Pasuk of respecting older people, and standing for them. Would I give up a seat in shul for them? I'll have to think about that.
For an Aliyas Neshama for רב ישעיה בן יחזקאל זצ"ל and all the Tzadikim who made and continue to make this Olam a great life.
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Health and Healing
Humor, laughter and a positive outlook in the hard times. This includes Torah thoughts by Rabbi Kilimnick and humor from within.
With nursing facilities closed, this guy is trying to figure out why his kids are trying to break into the room, scoping it out. He's asking when his kids turned into a bunch of stalkers.
(Photo: The Guardian)