End of an Era: This is for you, Mum & Dad

This weekend, the Dublin Jewish Community is holding a kiddush in honour of my parents, Howard & Hilary Gross. For years, about 60 for my Dad, and over 40 for Mum, my parents have given themselves selflessly to the Jewish Community in Ireland. They are quite literally, the last hold outs of our extended family in Dublin. Everyone else left years ago.

Growing up, it wasn’t unusual for both my parents to be out at a “meeting” on a weeknight. Whether it was the shul, the school, the Kashrut committee, the Chevra Kadisha, Board of Guardians, Scouts, Wizo, Soviet Jewry, Rep Council, there is very little in the world of Dublin Jewry that my parents have not been directly involved in. My parents have literally dedicated their adult lives to the good of this community, often a thankless task. As one of very few kosher and shomer shabbat homes, theirs was always open to visitors to the community, and occasionally they became a boarding house, not just a place for Shabbat meals. They even sort of adopted a French Jewish “boy” (now a married father of 4), who lived with them for a while. He still calls them every Friday before Shabbat.

I left Dublin over 20 years ago, and as I’ve mostly lived far away, my visits back have  been short and sporadic. This weekend, my 3 siblings, Barry, Laura & Jeff, along with my sister-in-law, brother-in-law and nephews and niece, are all in Dublin with Mum & Dad. I’m sorry I couldn’t be there too, but it just wasn’t possible. In spirit I’m there, and if I could, I’d keep FaceTime on all through Shabbat, to enjoy the sibling rivalry (that I’m sure happens even when I’m not present!), and to watch my folks kvell with pride over their grandchildren.

Moving country, leaving behind your house,  your friends, your community, is not easy. I know. I’ve done it a couple of times. It’s hard to explain the emotions, the overwhelming feelings of sadness & fear, mixed in with the excitement of going somewhere else. For Mum & Dad, the next step is London. This makes sense – three out of their four kids live in London. Seven out of 10 grandchildren are there. While only an hour away by plane, London is a different world to Dublin. I know you’ll be successful in this next part of your lives. Retirement means a whole world of new things are open to you Dad. You’ll get through the rest of the Gemarrah much faster for starters!

From London you’ll be one flight closer to us in Israel. We are looking forward to seeing you again in March. Mum, you’ll have easy access to all those cuts of meat that you can’t get in Dublin, and bakeries galore! (I know you like to bake your own bread, but imagine, you really won’t HAVE to anymore!) Dad you’ll find a committee or two to get involved in, show people how it’s really done. Chagim & shabbatot can be spent with your kids and grandkids, without needing to do lots of extra laundry!

Enjoy your Shabbat with everyone but us. Enjoy your kiddush. And Dad, Mazal Tov on another siyum. Regardless of what I may have yelled at you as a teenager, I am honoured and proud to have you as my parents.

I love you both very much, and I wish for you that this new chapter be the happiest, and most successful yet in your lives.

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