Let’s start with the good new. Mazel Tov to Harris and Roseanne Tisherman who last week said goodbye to Pittsburgh and moved to sunny Punta Gorda, Florida.
Harris and Roseanne were stalwarts at Ahavath Achim for many years, with Harris serving as President of the Shul and Roseanne as President of the Sisterhood, and they both were both current members of our Board. Harris was also responsible for mailing the Yahrtzeit notices to our members and Roseanne and Harris were responsible for sending out our annual Rosh Hashanah greeting cards.
We wish them both many years of happiness in their new home.
Now for the sad news. I returned from Shul Saturday to find a message from my uncle telling me that my Aunt Annie Rabinovitz, sister of my late mother, Ruth, and Max and Leonard Rabinovitz had passed away at 80 years of age. Annie was a happy, beautiful young woman, but in 1951, when she was 18 years old, Annie had what was at first, I believe, diagnosed as a nervous breakdown. I don’t know all of the details since I was only four years old, but I believe she was diagnosed as paranoid schizophrenic, and in those days the common treatment was electro-shock therapy.
Annie spent years in Western Psych and Mayview and was eventually placed in a halfway house type of facility, but she was never able to lead a normal life, and certainly missed out on much of what life has to offer.
My cousin, Iris Rainer Dart, wrote a book, Some Kind of Miracle featuring a character who is affected by schizophrenia. In an interview with the Pittsburgh Tribune Review, Iris said “When I was a kid growing up, a much older cousin was diagnosed with schizophrenia…My family were immigrants who brought lots of superstitions with them from the old country, so you can imagine the superstitions that existed around mental illness.” The book includes a segment in which the character is visiting relatives, then runs naked from their house and has to be brought back by the police. It is a true incident and it happened at my house when I was, I believe, eight or nine years old. It is the last time I remember seeing my aunt.
I don’t know why God permits babies to die, wonderful people to die young, or people like my aunt to have promising lives turned into tragedies. In last Saturday’s parshah, Aaron loses his sons on what was originally going to be one of the happiest days of his life, so even the most devout among us suffer unexpected tragedies. I certainly do not profess to know God’s master plan, but I do believe that things happen for a reason, and I do believe that if our short time on this earth is not all that we would want it to be, we still have an opportunity for eternal happiness with God in a life to follow.
I pray that my Aunt Annie will now find that happiness and that her brothers will find comfort in knowing that their sister is now with her parents, my mother, and our God in a place where she will have eternal peace.