Our unbearably poignant day ended on a lighter note with the Wood Family enjoying a traditional English afternoon tea at a smart city-centre hotel in the manner much enjoyed by my ineffably elegant Aunt Cynthia, and thus we toasted her sweet memory.
I am penning this on Remembrance Day afternoon but it could have been written after visiting any number of cemeteries or memorial gardens, or even Beth Shalom, the Holocaust Centre in Newark, Nottinghamshire. Whenever I go to such places, I am at once covered in an almost palpable peace that resounds like plangent bells.
No wonder that London Rabbi Jonathan Wittenberg remarked in an achingly sad Jewish Chronicle essay just before this yearâ€™s Jewish Day of Atonement:
...love touched me (in that cemetery) in the simultaneous awareness of the beauty, and fragility, of life. The thought of the tenderness and daily affection, of the arguments and making up, and of the grief of parting, says to us, â€˜While you can, over the fleeting, limited time that you have life, live it with love!â€™
I must conclude this post with reference to the passing of one of the great men of Anglo-Jewry in my own lifetime. I met His Honour Judge Israel Finestein twice as a reporter. He was almost ridiculously kind and generous with his time and help, even loaning me his speech notes to aid my report of a complex history lecture.