Friday, April 22, 2016

Rabbi Ben Zion Gold, 1923 - 4/18/2016

Rabbi Ben Zion Gold passed away on April 18, age 93. I got to hear him deliver Yom Kippur sermons at Harvard Hillel when he presided over its Conservative Minyan, chat with him when we crossed paths at the Cambridge Public Library (yes, for all the resources available at Harvard he liked being local), and interview him in the course of writing about his spare and eloquent memoir, "Life of Jews in Poland before the Holocaust," a book I can't recommend too highly.

 At the end of my discussion with him, I said that one thing that surprised me about his book was that it recounted a spiritual quest, his passing, as a young man, through varieties of Jewish experience before the Holocaust.

"What you're essentially saying to me now," he replied in a near whisper, "is that you're learning about the variety of Jewish life."

Yes, much of  the book is in that near whisper. And yes, I learned from him, not about the Holocaust, which he put outside the bounds of this book, but about the variety of Jewish life

You won't often find me mourning rabbis — well, maybe Allen Ginsberg, who I liked to think of as my rabbi, though that's admittedly eccentric. However, I do miss and mourn Rabbi Gold.

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