Shiva Stories: The Rabbi’s Visit

Posted on November 21st, 2013

stellazbHere’s another story from the shiva that people seemed to like.

Rabbi Singer is our (I guess “my,” but it just seems wrong to write that) spiritual mentor from Potomac, Maryland. But he is much more than our (again, I’ll just leave it I guess) “Rabbi.” He is one of the wisest and funniest people I know, usually not a very common combination. He can express volumes with just a look in his eyes or a shrug of his shoulders.

But more than anything else, he is and will always be, my friend.

He called me about 2 weeks ago and told me that he was coming to Israel to visit us. Stella had been slipping. She could no longer stand, and most painful to me, did not make sense most of the time. It cut me like a knife when she would ask me a simple question and within minutes ask the same thing. (“Is everything ready for Shabbos?” On a Monday.)

I told the Rabbi that honestly, I did not know if he would be in time to see her or would just be attending a funeral or shiva call. He told me that it didn’t matter, he was coming.

His visit was tremendous for me. Although he has two sons studying in Israel, he only spent one day with them and three with me. We talked about old times and even as I was in pain, he made me smile from time to time.

Friday morning we were downstairs and I heard Stella’s voice. I ran up and asked if she needed something.

“Is Rabbi Singer here?” she asked.

“Yes, we’re just downstairs,” I answered.

“Well, then please send him up so I can speak with him.”

Neither the Rabbi nor I knew what to expect when we entered the bedroom. At that point, even her closest friends could not visit. Yet when we entered the room, there she was sitting up in bed with a huge smile on her face.

“Rabbi Singer, how are YOU?” she asked.

A little surprised since he knew about her condition and mental state, he just said, “I’m fine. How are YOU Stella?”

“Baruch Hashem. Thank you for coming. Tell me about your children.”

Stella then asked about each one of the Singer children by name. What they were up to, where they were living, she even knew how many grandchildren had been born since we had lived in Potomac eight years ago. She remembered more details about the lives of the Singer family than me.

After about ten minutes she said she was getting tired and so we said good-bye and went back downstairs.

That was the last real conversation she ever had.

But I know my wife. And I knew, that no matter what war was raging for control of her mind, she knew that he had travelled a great distance and that she did not want the last impression of a man she greatly admired to be of a dying woman who didn’t know what day it was.

She she summoned up what last strengh  she had left and pushed the fog aside for him.

And that is just one more story of a person who really “got” it and always used whatever power she had for good.

The world has lost a great person.

And I have lost even more.

I miss her so much.

Yarden Frankl, Neve Daniel



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  1. rutimizrachi says:

    Yarden, thank you for sharing these stories. We all loved her so much… and hearing that she left the world with all of that Stella grace intact is a balm for the soul. Each of us is so much better for having known her. When I see you and your children, I will still see her shining around you. She still has so many smiles to bring to the world.

  2. Brian Miller says:

    Your stories are amazing, but do not surprise me in the least. Keep them coming. You can even retell the classics. I never get tired of them.

  3. Bill Landau says:

    Another wonderful story – and another parallel with Sheila. In 1984, the cancer had spread to her lungs. She had to stop working, and the treatments left her very weak. Her mother was staying with us, and if the phone would ring while I was at work, Sheila would tell her she wasn’t available unless it was me or the rabbi on the phone. Rabbi Meier Perlmutter, a tower of strength for both of us.

  4. Adina W says:

    That is an amazing story, Coach. Thanks for sharing these.
    The eulogy videos were heart wrenching, and the huge crowd of people that attended the levaya, as well as all the followers of this blog, just attests to the tremendous impact Stella has had–and her memory continues to have–on everyone. My sincerest condolences to your beautiful family, and may Stella’s neshama have aliyot and aliyot.

  5. Nisan Jaffee says:


    I think I met you and Stella twice. Once for sure at Tova’s wedding. I know for sure that I missed getting to know an amazing human being.
    I have found some interesting things out this past week. 1) Your Rabbi Singer is married to my daughter-in-laws uncle (Sara Jaffee nee Novice). I have met him and his family at several simchas. 2) I also went to Colgate University. Graduated 1974.

    My in-laws the Eastman’s have been telling me about your amazing wife (and her wonderful husband) for years. I am so sorry to have missed the opportunity to know her. I’m hoping we can spend some time together in the future.

    HaMakom Yenachem Etchem B’toch Shaar Avelim Tzion V’Yerushalayim.

  6. Iris says:

    Yarden, Thank you so much for writing down that lovely story. On Shabbos, Rabbi Singer related that story as well. A truly wonderful and awe-inspiring story about the most awe-inspiring person we know.

  7. Stephanie says:

    Beautiful story. Thank you for sharing. Stella will be missed greatly. I am sad she is gone from this world but she is now in Hashem’s embrace.

    Condolences from the Frumkin family, Yarden and family.
    May you be comforted among the mourners of Zion and Yershalayim.

  8. Nava says:

    I miss her too.

    You’ll and she’ll be happy to know that I have done some mitzvot inspired by her example. Stella and you are wonderful teachers.

  9. Reva says:

    Yarden, I have only recently started to read your blog, and as I read it , I cannot get over just what an amazing couple you and Stella were. Every time we visit Rachel and Noam it has always been a highlight when you came round after Shabbat lunch to regail us with your stories. but the ones you have written about the Shiva,are so inspiring. Our whole family grieves with you and your children at this sad time and we can only wish you “Chaim Aruchim”. I am so happy that when we were in Neve Daniel for Succot we saw Stella in shul and she made me feel so special when she smiled up at me and said How are you Reva! I didn’t think she even knew my name, just that I am Rachel’s mother. We know that Stella . truly is an angel and is watching over all of us. May Hashem bless you and keep you free from any further sorrow.