We offer this blessing to show that the fabric of our lives is forever changed – and like this fabric, our hearts are torn. Baruch Atah Adonai Dayan Ha Emet.
God! What are we that You have regard for us? What are we that You are mindful of us? We are like a breath; our days are as a passing shadow; we come and go like grass which in the morning shoots up, renewed and in the evening fades and whithers. You cause us to revert to dust, saying; Return O Mortal creatures! Would that we were wise, that we understood whither we are going! For when we die we carry nothing away; our glory does not accompany us. Mark the wholehearted and behold the upright; they shall have peace, God. You redeem the soul of Your servants, and none who trust in You shall be desolate.
To Harve - to lose Joyce, your wife of over 60 years is so very devastating. We send him love at this holy and sorrowful moment. She was the one who took such great care of him, reminding him to eat, keep moving, take his vitamins. Joyce would tell the story of how Harve robbed the cradle dating a woman 5 years his junior. On their first date when Harve tried to buy her a drink, she said to him, “Do you know how old I am?” This is truly such a loss for him.
And to Phillip (Sheryl), David (Toni), and (Edie)- to lose your mother, & mother in law is so devastating. I hope you will take comfort in knowing how much you meant to her. You were the light of her life - that your love and personal attention to her in her final weeks added years to her life as well as life to her years. When you were born, she fulfilled her true calling - to be a mother. She was so devoted to her children, both as young children and as adults. Like when she had her Corneal transplant, it was you. Her children who took care of her. It was clear that she adored her children and daughters in law and spoke about them with tremendous pride.
Losing her daughter Helene was so devastating. And yet, Joyce, in her own way, grieved and continued with a hole in her heart accepting life on life’s terms. And continued the loving relationship she shared with Edie, Helene’s life partner whom Joyce adored. In fact, she adored all of her daughters in law and was so grateful that her children had found such loving and devoted partners to complement their lives, as she had with Harve.
But if Harve was the sun, and her children were the moon, her grandchildren were the stars. To Carli, Joshua, Danielle, and Joel - your grandmother loved you. She spoke of you with such pride - and you brought her much nachas. We grieve with you in your sorrow today.
And so, We gather here today to celebrate her life, to embrace the pain we all feel at her departure. And we mourn her death. We all feel a loss—an emptiness – a void which never again will be filled. Her smile, her Joie de vivre and her entire essence graced our world and enriched it in so many ways. We cannot speak of Joyce without reading,
Eshet Chayil – a Woman of Valor. Those words come from the Book of Proverbs:
A Woman of Valor, who can find? She is more precious than corals. Her husband places his trust in her and profits only thereby. She brings him good, not harm, all the days of her life. She opens her hands to the poor and reaches out her hands to the needy. She has no fear of the snow for her household, for all her household is dressed in fine clothing.
She is robed in strength and dignity, and she smiles at the future.
She opens her mouth with wisdom and a lesson of kindness is on her tongue. Her children rise up and make her happy; her husband praises her: Give her credit for the fruit of her labors, and let her achievements praise her.
Grace is elusive and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears God -- she shall be praised.
"Many women have excelled, but you excel them all!"
Joyce was born and raised on the south side of Chicago. She would tell me stories about her grandmother, who I believe lived with Joyce when she was little, but also, if I am not mistaken, also shared a room with her. She had the choice to hide her Judaism, but her grandmother always taught her to be proud. To the point that Joyce lost friends over her being Jewish, but it didn’t deter her. She loved her Judaism and was a fixture in the Jewish community.
Which is why her death leaves all of us breathless. How can we image a world without Joyce’s smile in it? She was always at the Temple - at services, serving on the R&R committee, at classes. she loved learning and participating. But if her soul was Judaism, her heart was reserved for Harve.
We used to hear all about Joyce’s life every day during lunch when she’d join us back when she worked at JVS. In fact, Cody, our Office Administrator recalled how Joyce was instrumental for job coaching teaching interview prep and style to him. She told him that when someone asks you to tell them about yourself, what they are really asking for is your job background and how you can use it for the job you’re applying for.
Carol, our Executive Director, remembered that when JVS moved Joyce’s office into our building, she would come to lunch everyday - upbeat, energetic, smiley, age was never an issue. Even when she started to work part time, she’d want to take every adult ed class, and when she couldn’t navigate the stairs with Harve, they took the elevator. Joyce could not stop learning, nor did she want to stop. She was always curious to learn new things.
Adrienne, our secretary recalled Joyce as never seeming to have a bad day. She was always happy, with a positive attitude. Nothing seemed to get her down. She had this level ness, even keel. Never negative.
Rabbi Kamil would ask her to be a part of the local - bet din as one of the longer term members of authority in our community. She always put the conversion candidate at ease and would make them feel extra special because of how wonderful she was. She truly embraced people into our congregation.
Michele, our Bookkeeper, remembered Joyce as always caring about how you were and how your family was doing. After Michele’s mom died, Joyce was like maternal presence in her life.
Sherri Kayser wrote, “She and I attended so many Melton classes, Lifelong Learning events and so many meetings over the years. Joyce and I saw each other at work every day because we were located at the same building. No matter what was going on at work we stopped to visit and use each other for sounding boards about our respective agencies. We had a great time there. Remember we also retired within a couple weeks of each other.”
Last year, we went to Harve and Joyce’s birthday Party at Mariano’s for their 90 & 85th birthdays. What an amazing day it was! We got to go down - memory lane with them, celebrating their lives, seeing photos and videos of their wedding day, B’nai mitzvah celebrations.
We got to celebrate them as the wonderful couple they were together. That both Harve and Joyce remained optimistic, despite their medical issues. Joyce was so devoted to Harve she would do everything for him.
And so we stand together, bereft of her passing. We will miss Joyce. She truly graced our world, improved it, and enriched it and left us a legacy of hope, of joy and of love.
There are no blessed deaths though some are more peace giving than others. We can’t know the reasons for death, but we can face it with dignity, without despair. It is my hope that the legacy of love she leaves to all of us will continue to inspire and guide us through all the days of our lives. And in this way, death cannot separate her from us for when we remember her love, she will continue to live on, even in death.
The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures:
He leadeth me beside the still waters. He restoreth my soul:
He leadeth me in the paths of righteousness for His name' sake.
Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil: For thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me.
Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies;
Thou annointest my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
and I will dwell in the House of the Lord forever.
In the book of Ethics of our Fathers, it is written:
Rabbi Shimon bar Yochai taught that there are three crowns which people wear:
The crown of learning,
the crown of priesthood
and the crown of kingship
but the crown of a good name exceeds them all
Joyce earned and wore that crown of a good name
The Book of Job tells us that Job said, "Adonai Natan v'Adonai Lakach. Yehi shem Adonai m'vorach - God gave, God has taken away. Blessed be the name of God"
Though death is strong, it can never take from you the memories you hold, the feelings you cherish, the images forever etched upon your hearts and souls. Know that there were many more stories to tell and others who could have shared them with us. We will do that when we can gather in person and embrace one another safely. This is what Joyce would have wanted. She would want us to celebrate her life, by sharing our stories and memories of her and by doing so, draw some comfort from them. For through them, you are forever bound to this woman whom we gather to mourn this day. For when we remember her smile and her love, she will continue to live on, even in death.
E-l malei rachamim, shochayn bam'romim, ham-tzay m'nucha n'chona tachat kanfay Hash'china, Im k'doshim ut-horim k'zo-har haraki-a mazhirim, et nishmat Shana Freida bat Epraim u’Bluma she-halcha l-olamah,
Ba-al Harachamim yas-tire-ha b'sayter k'nafav l'olamim, v'yitz-ror bitz-ror hacha-yim et nishmatah, Ado-nay Hu na-chalatah, v'tanu-ach b'shalom al mishkavah. V'nomar: Amen.
Compassionate God, eternal Spirit of the universe, grant perfect rest in your sheltering presence to Joyce Bogolub who has entered eternity. O God of mercy, let her find refuge in Your eternal presence and let her soul be bound up in the bond of everlasting life. God is her inheritance. May she rest in peace and let us say, Amen.