Various peoples have been pushing me to power-up the batteries and start writing again. I haven'd don't much serious work in about a year, if not longer, for various reasons, which eventually led to my resignation from the Hebron Jewish Community organization, where I worked for about 21 years.
There are a number of factors leading to my dry-spell, most of which I don't think can or should be detailed. Suffice it to say that I needed a break.
Well, now I've been told, you had your break – now get up off your … and get back to work.
It's not like I don't have what to do. There's a list a mile long with various projects, and endless thoughts run thru my head about subjects to be thrown around for public perusal. However, as long as they remain in the realm of thoughts, well that's where they stay.
So, I'm told stop thinking and start doing.
I've been reading several books about the last Rebbi – the 7th Rebbi of Lubovitch, The Admor Rabbi Menachem Mendyl Shneersohn, a tremendous talmid chachim – and that characterization does not come close to describing his spriritual heights and leadership. It is written that from the day he 'took office' as the new Rebbi in 1952, he never took a vacation. Ever. In later years, it was expected that with age, he would slow down a bit. However his reaction was quite revolutionary. 'What, just because now your 60 and not 50, you think you have to slow down your activites? Of course not. Because your phsyiscal age has nothing to do with your connection to G-d. The older you are, the more of a bond you should have with HaShem, thereby giving you the strengths to accomplish what you weren't able to last year! In other words, in the Rebbes lexicon, the word retirement doesn't exist, nor should it exist. As long a person is capable of doing, he must continue to do.
The Rebbe worked day in and day out thru his early 90s. So when people here in Hebron ask me if I've left active work for my 'pension' I get slightly embarrassed.
Honestly, at this point in time, I'm not quite sure to whom I have to prove my continued talents and or abilities: to myself, or to others jeering me on. May a little bit of both.
OK, so I decide to give it a try, Actually I already did try, but it didn't work. But let's try again. Unfortunately, the first subject matter that comes to mind may less interet some of my readers, but still, in my heart, it is imperative.
I'd heard a while ago that Gary Cooperberg was sick. We didn’t' see each other frequently, but were definitely in touch. And so it had been for a long time.l Ora |and I moved to Kiryat Arba in June1981. Gary and Andrea moved into a bulding next to us in July or August, I don't really remember.
I really have few recollections about our initial friendship, except that when, on a Friday afternoon Gary and Andrea had to take a quick drive into Jeruaelm, thereby allowing their newborn son to be born in a hospital, the 3 young daughters sent to the Wilders for Shabbat, surly they'd be able to take care of them.
A little boy was born – the brit at Ma'arat Machpela on Shabbat of Chol HaMoed Succot, a day when there would certainly be many people attending because of holiday.
At that time, it was still forbidden to conduct the ritual service during the brit because it involved usage of grape juice or wine, both of which are forbidden by Islam. What's forbidden to them is forbidden to us too, no?
Saturday morning: Solderiers all over the place. One woman starts asking a soldier a serious question, distracting him for a few moments. Another women approaches a second guard, fully distracting him from anything else.
And then, whop, faster than a speeding bullet the little new born is inside the building.
From then on things continue quickly. The Torah portion is read, as is the concluding Haftarah text. And then, without too much noise or publicity, the moyal checks the infant, all is fine and bingo-presto, in a matter of a very few minutes, it's over. A new Jew, Avi ben Gershon Melech, has come into the world, In Hebron, at Ma'art HaMachpela, in the Isaac Memorial room.
Keeping in mind that each one of these achievements can be defined in a sign of true Divine Miracle. No more – no less.
So that's how the Cooperberg family introduced themselves in Kiryat Arba and Hebron.
I seem to remember that Gary, looking for a way find food for his family, worked as an English teacher at the local school. I sympathized with him because I'd already undergone the pains of such employment. But you have to eat.
We would sit around and discuss it – I don't think I had very good advise for him, because I couldn't handle it either.
To the best of my recollection, and this goes back a few years, Gary began working with the Hebron Jewish Community. PR – writing= fund-raising, administrative work. I don't remember it all, just that I was impressed he was working in Heborn.
One of his more successful ventures was his writing. Keeping in mind that he was communicating prior to email lists and web sites.
An Example from 2007
Dear American Jew,
As you prepare for Yom Kippur, and beat your breast asking our Creator for forgiveness, as we have done for thousands of years, consider a very special sin which can easily be rectified. We implore G-d to remember how our Father, Abraham, prepared to take the life of his only son, Isaac, in response to G-d’s Command to sacrifice him. This had to have been the most difficult commandment Abraham was ever called upon to perform. Yet he rose early in the morning and hastened to fulfill that commandment with love for and faith in His Creator.
Faith in G-d requires us to put aside logic, reason and personal wants and needs in subjugation to the Will of our Creator. The reason that G-d Created the Jewish People was to demonstrate to the entire world that He is very real. By attaching His Name to ours, He has chosen us to prove His existence to the entire world. We have always been a tiny minority. Every great power in history has sought to destroy us. Yet all of those powers have fallen, and we remain.
The very fact that we still exist as a people after two thousand years of oppression, abuse, exile and attempted annihilation, should be proof enough that G-d does watch over us. Yes, our very existence today is clearly a great miracle. But we have yet to fulfill our given role on this Earth. It is the Will of G-d that we become the Model Nation for all the world to emulate. In order for this to happen we need to come home to the Land which He has appointed for us and live our lives there according to His Commandments.
The bottom line is that G-d is very real. It is up to us to show this to the world by our actions and become the catalyst which will elevate all the world to holiness. I pray that each and every one of you takes this message to heart. May you and your loved ones be blessed with a New Year of fulfillment of ancient prophesies and a speedy return home.
Gary wrote a commentary for years called "A Voice from Hebron" and in later years combined that with his Project Sofar activities.
Gary really believed in living his ideals. While working in Hebron he was requested to be an honorary guest at a dinner honoring Rabbi Meir Kehana hy"d. Gary and the Rabbi were close and Gary had participated in, and supported Kach activities.
However when the awards dinner schedule became public, there were certain factors in Hebron who objected that the community's PR representative be to closely associated with Rabbi Kahane. Gary had to chose: job in Hebron or his ideals which certainly in part were expressed by the Rabbi. Gary decided. He attended the dinner.
Later Gary began working at the Kiryat Arba Nir Yeshiva, door next to Rabbi Eliezer Waldman and Rabbi Dov Lior. He continued writing, and advancing the cause of Hebron, and certainly that of the Yeshiva, for probably close to 2 decades, if not more.
Here he developed the love of his life – Project Shofar.
A Shofar is a ram's horn and it is used during Rosh HaShana services, when as commanded in the Torah, it is blown before the congregation. It's not an easy job, which involves many strict rules necessary for the sounding to be 'kosher.'
For 28 years Gary sounded the Shofar, the ram's horn, at Ma'arat HaMachpela,during early morning services. He also was the permanent blower at morning services for the entire month prior to the new year, as is customary.
His involvement in this mitzvah was total. When asked last year if he'd prepared for the holy day, he answered, I prepare all year. And in the end, it's up to G-d. If He gives me the strength and energy, I'll do fine, and if not, I won't. It's a tremendous of responsibility, because everyone is waiting for me. But I have to remember that I'm not doing it for me or for then. Rather for love of G-d. This is what He wants us to do.
As the illness progressed, it became more and more apparent that he would't be able to serve in the position this year, and formally transferred the position to someone else, who promised to return it to him next year.
Gary passed away just a few hours after the beginning of Rosh HaShana. It is written that when our souls leave our body to the next world, they first flow thru Ma'arat HaMachpela in Hebron, where that soul is greeted by Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and the first man, who escort that soul to higher heights in the next world.
I can't say I know, but I've got a feeling that when Gary reached the Maara that night, he made a special request to his illustrious escorters.
"Tomorrow morning is Rosh HaShana. Here I blew the shofar for decades. So maybe now I cannot participate in a physical way, but I certainly can help out spiritually.
So when the shofar-blower began that morning, whether he knew it or not, Gary Cooperberg was there with him, holding the Shofar with him, and sounding the Divine notes, as so commanded in the Torah.
So for one last time, Gary gave of his last breath to the community.
For the year before, when speaking about preparation, he added on, "actually all these years I've been Shofar-blowing here, it's all really preparation for next year, when I'm 70 years old. I think Gary fulfilled his dream.
He was a good, special neshama. And he'll be missed, here in this world. But I have no doubt that what he did here, he continues up there somewhere, for the good of Am Yisrael and Eretz Yisrael.
Shana Tova. May his memory be a blessing and a lesson to us all.