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A tribute to Russell Gaddin z"l by Nicci Diamond Levenstein

I want to tell you a beautiful story.
A story of hope.
A story about love and loss,
about fear and letting go
about aloneness and togetherness
A story about richly coloured and deeply textured relationships.
A story about a wife and children saying goodbye to their king.
Photograph: Russell and Buti Gaddin
Once upon a time about 77 years ago, 
a pure soul, with a Divine mission was sent to earth.
He had a journey to complete which was done with pride and dignity.
His sojourn on earth was about bringing light down from above, an emissary of 
Hashem, whose work it was to relieve the pain in others, to teach people 
about love, and to respect and show compassion to each other and the 
beautiful world in which we live.
The road ahead was frought with difficulties and challenges. Where others
were saying “no”, or walking away, he was guided by his hope and belief that
everything could be done. He never gave up.
A man who saw opportunity where others saw dead ends.
A man who saw growth where others saw bleakness.
A man who completed his life’s work like a true son of G-d.
After a long battle, a battle he fought with strength and fortitude, for the life 
he loved so passionately, Hashem was calling him back home.
In his final seven days on this earthly plane, he faced himself in ways he had 
never done before.
He silenced the inner voice that told him his journey was nearing completion.
Never once wanting his wife and children to feel his pain.
The fire he had kindled all his life with them, burned brightly.
His love for them was known, he told them, they felt it.
He knew his work as husband, daddy and Yussy was almost done.
With a sense of peace and resignation, he was reaping the fruits of his labour.
Basking in the light and love of the seeds he had sown.
He became a receptacle to receive, in infinite amounts, the gift of kindness and
compassion that had always defined him.
This was his time.
And what a hard lesson it was.
How could he become a taker after giving all his life?
“Tell me the news, what happened today, why don’t the Jews have a day of 
His mind and heart for his people to the end.
Then time and words began to slip away.
Something else was taking over.
No time could ever be enough.
How could everyone say goodbye?
His physical body was failing him.
Each hour brought more weakness and pain.
But paralleled with that, he connected more strongly with his stars who 
surrounded him.
His wife. His children. His beloved homeland. His Israel.
After serving the Jewish community in Johannesburg for forty seven years,
his wish was to spend his last years at home overlooking the hills and 
He had achieved his dream.
His soul was bright and powerful.
Possessing the trust to go where he was being beckoned to.
He listened attentively, with a gentle smile to the voices of his 
grandchildren over the phone.
Such love in his eyes.
He wanted so deeply to look at his wife and his children and tell them that he
would stay with them forever.
But those words couldn’t come out.
So he shut his eyes.
A man of integrity, how conflicted he was.
“Play me my music” , he said.
“Play my favourite opera, ‘Turandot’, I want to hear ‘Nessun Dorma’.
The music began.
The finale. How could it be?
The words ‘Nessun Dorma’ mean “none shall sleep”
He began to drift into a peaceful realm.
Held, cradled and contained in the arms of those around him,
and trusting in the grace from above.
Vascillating between two worlds.
“Mail mio mistero
  e chiuso in me”
“but my secret is hidden within me.”
“di legua, onotte!
  tramoutate, stelle!
  all, alba vincero
  vincero, vincero.”
“Vanish o nigh!
  Fade you stars!
  Fade you stars!
  At dawn I will win!
  I will win, I will win.”
And the room was filled with a heaviness, 
Stars burning in a thick firmament.
No words, just tears.
Then came ‘Hatikva’, ‘The Hope’
The Israeli National Anthem, written in 1886 by Naphtali Imber
Recited, known and remembered by a soul, whose longing for Zion and
Yerushalayim had brought him home to rest.
No more now
Just surrender.
As long as the Jewish spirit is yearning deep in the heart,
With eyes turned toward the East, looking toward Zion,
Then our hope - the two-thousand-year-old hope - will not be lost:
To be a free people in our land,
The land of Zion and Jerusalem.
Kol ode balevav
P'nimah -
Nefesh Yehudi homiyah
Ulfa'atey mizrach kadimah
Ayin l'tzion tzofiyah.
Ode lo avdah tikvatenu
Hatikvah bat shnot alpayim:
L'hiyot am chofshi b'artzenu - 
Eretz Tzion v'Yerushalayim

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