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The Gift

11/21/2019 10:07:04 AM


Rabbi Dan Dorsch

Sophia Becker and her husband Mordechai were at one time members of Congregation Etz Chaim. They lived in Indian Hills. They built a business here. Feeling a sense of affinity toward our community, it was therefore not a surprise that at that time, they purchased plots in the Etz Chaim section of Arlington Cemetery.


Mordechai passed away. Initially buried in our cemetery, as committed Zionists, they reconsidered, and he was eventually moved and reinterred in Israel. Sophia herself has long since relocated to Minnesota, where she lives near her children. She too expects to be buried in Israel with Mordechai in the distant future.


Last week, I was surprised to receive a call from Sophia, a woman whom I had never met, offering our community a precious gift: two burial plots in the Etz Chaim section of Arlington Cemetery. She told me that the reason for her donation was simple: she is deeply concerned that Jews are choosing cremation, contrary to Jewish law, often because it is a significantly less expensive option. The gift of her plots was to ensure that no needy family would ever feel forced into making that choice out of financial necessity.


Sophia could have taken out an advertisement in the Atlanta Jewish Times and decide to sell her plots for a handsome profit. However, instead, with the help of her accountant (and our member), Barney Coltman, she made the meaningful gesture of donating them back to the synagogue to be used for people who could otherwise not afford a kosher Jewish burial.


One week later, when we read about Abraham buying a burial site for Sarah in the parasha, I remain profoundly awe struck by her gesture to our community. Since ancient times, there has been no more central mitzvah than helping our fellow Jews to procure proper burial places. As such, I will someday be honored to serve as her shaliach mitzvah, her “mitzvah messenger,” by helping someone in our community who may not be able to afford a kosher, Jewish burial to have one.

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Thu, February 20 2020 25 Shevat 5780