The Grace of Love

October 29, 2021 by Inna Rogatchi
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Chesvan 20th, 5781 last year, was on Shabbat. In the secular calendar, it was November 7th, 2020. On Motzei Shabbat, in that special Shabbat-blessed mood being both relaxed and uplifted, we turned on our devices.

Inna Rogatchi (C). Wind in Yellow. Homage to Rabbi Jonathan Sacks. Windy Pictures series. 2020.

And got the shock. In our Inboxes, there was the news of Rabbi Sacks’ passing. Totally, completely incomprehensible news. The shock was so powerful that we remember that Motzei Shabbat evening a year ago in such graphic detail as it had happened not even yesterday but just today.

Such a shock occur rarely in one’s life. It was like seeing a picture of a nuclear test on a screen: irreversible and quiet. Only it was not a test.

Of course, we knew about Jonathan’s illness. We asked our friends for prayers for him literally three weeks before that devastating news appeared on our screens on November 7th, 2020. And we knew that it was not the first attack of that merciless illness on him. We just were not prepared for such an abrupt end.

My husband Michael, who has a sober and strong mind of a scientist which was his first profession before he turned to be an artist, was in complete denial on the idea of Jonathan’s passing. I never saw anything like that in my husband’s behaviour during many decades of our life. Michael loves Rabbi Sacks dearly and deeply. He could not come to terms with that fact for a very long time.

And I was gasping for air, both literally and metaphorically, and was thinking , being terrified, of Rabbi Sacks’ family, his wife, lady Elaine, children, brother, grandchildren, close friends who are at the same time close friends of ours. That whirl of disbelief was overwhelming. My first tribute in memoriam to Jonathan was born that night.

We closely followed all the stages after that terrible loss of a unique man . We were co-living every stage of our all’ physical departing with Rabbi Sacks during this first year.  Michael spent the Jewish year 5781-5782 circle reading all five books of Rabbi Sacks’s elegant commentaries to the Torah weekly, with increasing love and attachment. I wrote about our constant return to thoughts about Jonatan during that first year of his permanent physical absence in my Yom Kippur essay this year.

And we salute all the noble and loving efforts made by his family, friends, colleagues, pupils and followers of Rabbi Sacks to keep his legacy alive.

During that year, I was thinking about Jonathan very often. What was the factor, the substance, the actions that has made that very person so universally beloved? In another Jewish miracle, I have got the answer to my standing question on the Shabbat that preceded the date of the first yahrzeit of that rare human pearl of our time. It was not a factor, not a substance, not an action, or many of them.

Inna Rogatchi is internationally acclaimed writer, scholar and film-maker, the author of the widely prized film on Simon Wiesenthal The Lessons of Survival. Her professional trade-mark is inter-weave of history, culture and mentality. She is the author of the concept of the Outreach to Humanity cultural and educational projects conducted internationally by The Rogatchi Foundation of which Inna is the co-founder and President. She is the wife of the world renowned artist Michael Rogatchi. Inna’s family is related to the famous Rose-Mahler musical dynasty. Her professional interests are focused on Jewish heritage, Holocaust and post-Holocaust, arts and culture. She is twice laureate of the Italian Il Volo di Pegaso Italian National Art, Literature and Music Award, the Patmos Solidarity Award, and the New York Jewish Children’s Museum Award for Outstanding Contribution into the Arts and Culture (together with her husband). Inna Rogatchi is the member of the Board of the Finnish National Holocaust Remembrance Association

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