Sunday, May 30, 2010

Peretz (1919-2010)
"May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life". .

We have been expecting the late telephone call for a few months now. My mother-in-law reported that he was fading away, gently, like a candle with a very tiny flame. Friday night they called to say that Peretz had passed away earlier that evening, in a hospital in Petah-Tiqva. He was alone. No one was there in the hospital to bid him a final good bye.

I saw him last August. We were sitting outside in the garden that he loved so much but was too frail and damaged to work it anymore. Some of his grandchildren were running about. Someone made coffee. He could not speak because his vocal chords had been removed some twenty years ago, due to cancer. His neck was badly twisted, causing him great pain. I think he would have preferred to stay in his bed, where it was probably the most comfortable for him but it was our last night in Israel and he wanted to be sociable. When we got up to leave he tapped two fingers on his cheek, indicating that he wanted me to kiss him good bye. He held my hand and whispered in his voiceless voice that he thought it would be the last time he ever saw me. He then struggled to get up, a very thin, shrunken old man and in shuffling, small steps walked to the gate to see us into our car.

I wrote about my father-in-law's story here.

He loved Greek music and some of his favourite songs were performed by Stelios Kazantzidis, about whom Wikipadia says:

In Israel, he was a musical icon. Many of his songs were translated into Hebrew and performed by the country's leading singers. Yaron Enosh, an Israel Radio broadcaster who often plays Greek music on his programs, described the singer's ability to combine joy with sorrow: "This is the task of music: to touch the entire range of feelings...Kazantzidis could do this; he played on all the strings." [3] To the Greek Jews who immigrated to Israel, Kazantzidis was "the voice of the world they left behind, for good or for bad." According to the operator of Radio Agapi, a station that plays Greek music 24 hours a day, "Kazantzidis was the voice of the people, of the weary, the exploited, the betrayed. And the voice of the refugee and the emigre, too."

Here are two of Peretz's old favourites. I think you can hear in the music "
the voice of ..the weary, the exploited, the betrayed... the refugee and the emigre..." of my late father-in-law. But also the courage and stubborn will of a man who simply refused to be defeated:



It's for you, Peretz, who knows, as you keep company with the Master of the Universe, sipping Turkish coffee and enjoying a small glass of Ouzo..


At 3:53 PM EDT, Anonymous TNC said...

My condolences to you and your family. Take care.

At 5:27 PM EDT, Blogger The Contentious Centrist said...

Thanks, TNR.

At 6:33 PM EDT, Anonymous Gibson Block said...

Funny, I didn't get much out of the Kazantzidis - which I assume are the real thing - but I thought that the Yehuda Poliker video was fantastic.

For others, it is here


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