Servant of the Secret Fire

Random thoughts on books and life in the reality-based community

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Location: New York, United States

The name I've chosen comes from "Lord of the Rings," when Gandalf faces down the Balrog in the Mines of Moria. My Hebrew name is Esther (which is related to the word for "hidden" or "secret") Serafina (which means "burning"). This seems appropriate because although I don't usually put myself forward, I do care very passionately about a lot of things. Maybe through these blogs I can share some of these passions, as well as less weighty ideas and opinions, with others.

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Cantor Susan Wehle

Cantor Susan was one of those lost in the tragic plane crash outside of Buffalo on Thursday night. Of course, each life lost was precious and my heart goes out to all of their loved ones, but Susan was the one whose life touched my own, as well as those of many others. Here are two news stories that examine the wonderful variety of those 50 souls, among them college students with their whole lives ahead of them, an expert on genocide, and, with the most tragic irony, a 9/11 widow.

Fifty Varied Lives, Ended on a Cold, Foggy Night
Passengers and Crew Aboard Flight 3407: Their Stories

My deepest condolences to all who knew and loved Susan. She had a beautiful voice, a joyous heart and a generous soul. She was one of the many who welcomed me when I joined Temple Sinai back in the 90s, and while I was sorry when she left us for Beth Am, I was also happy to see her continuing in her spiritual and professional journey. She taught me haftarah chanting and prayers for my adult bat mitzvah, but watching her on the bimah, giving her heart and soul to the prayers, was an education in itself, as well as a joy and a pleasure. Her life was a celebration of the Divine and of the possibilities inherent in all of us, and the entirety of her life is what should be remembered, more than the tragic manner of its ending.

No man is an island, entire of itself
every man is a piece of the continent, a part of the main
if a clod be washed away by the sea,
Europe is the less, as well as if a promontory were,
as well as if a manor of thy friends or of thine own were
any man's death diminishes me, because I am involved in mankind
and therefore never send to know for whom the bell tolls
it tolls for thee.
— John Donne

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