Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.

As Noah Pozner Laid to Rest, Jewish Community Unites in Support of Family

December 18, 2012 9:15 pm 0 comments

Outside Abraham L. Green Funeral Home on Monday in Fairfield, Conn., where 6-year-old Noah Pozner was eulogized three days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings. Photo: Connecticut Jewish Ledger.

FAIRFIELD, CONN. (Connecticut Jewish Ledger)—Bunches of white balloons marked the entrance to the Abraham L. Green Funeral Home on Monday in Fairfield, Conn., where 6-year-old Noah Pozner was eulogized three days after the Sandy Hook Elementary School shootings.

A bright-green hand-written sign tacked to a tree near the building read, “Our hearts are with you Noah.” A group of reporters waited in the cold drizzle across the street, with television cameras shielded under black plastic tarp.

By 1 p.m., some 200 people had filed into the memorial chapel for the funeral of the youngest of 26 victims in the shootings. Family, friends, members of Congregation Adath Israel in Newtown, Conn., and local Jewish leaders filled the seats. The rest stood outside the chapel in the vestibule, silent and listening.

In an hour or so, the funeral cortege would proceed to the B’nai Israel cemetery, 17 miles north. For now, family members would remember aloud the little boy who had been taken from them too soon, too violently. They would speak with love, with sorrow, and even with humor.

Rabbi Shaul Praver of Congregation Adath Israel opened the service by chanting Psalm 23. “I sense a turning point. I sense an extraordinary light coming from the darkness,” said Pozner, who invited Noah’s mother, Veronique Pozner, to the podium.

“The sky is crying, and the flags are at half-mast. It is a sad, sad day,” she said. “But it is also your day, Noah, my little man. I will miss your forceful and purposeful little steps stomping through our house. I will miss your perpetual smile, the twinkle in your dark blue eyes, framed by eyelashes that would be the envy of any lady in this room.”

Veronique spoke of all the things she would miss in the boy who filled the house with love, light, mischief and pranks.

“Most of all, I will miss your visions of your future,” she said. “You wanted to be a doctor, a soldier, a taco factory manager. Tacos were your favorite food and no doubt you wanted to ensure that your world kept producing them. Your life force was like a celestial body. You adored your family with every fiber of your 6-year-old being. We are elevated in our humanity in having known you.”

Among those also eulogizing Noah were his aunt, Victoria Haller of Woodinville, Wash., his uncle Alexis Haller, and his 15-year old brother, Michael. “I take comfort in knowing that Noah is free, he has gone home,” said Michael. “Let us not be lost in sorrow. Let us live our lives as happily and righteously as we can. We can better ourselves as people for Noah, celebrate his life, and live for him. When we’re all called home, we will see him again. We did not lose our Noah, we gained a guardian angel.”

Praver said, “The secret of Jewish survival and our greatest wisdom is to thrive.”

“When the Holocaust happened, there were no Jewish attacks on German people or property, no acts of terror,” he said. “That is not our way of reacting to tragedy. Instead, as written in the Psalm we opened with today, we ‘set a banquet in the presence of our enemies.’ We established the State of Israel as an ingathering, as a rebirth. Our greatest, most exalted responsibility is to thrive.”

Speaking to Noah’s twin sister, Arielle, who was in an adjacent classroom at Sandy Hook Elementary School during the shooting, Praver spoke of his own 6-year-old twins. “Arielle, I know you loved and continue to love Noah very much,” he said. “Now you have to love him double.”

Newtown has been modeling for the rest of the world Kiddush Hashem, the sanctification of God’s name, through love between members of all faiths, Praver said.

“Let’s remember this moment somehow,” he concluded. “Let’s keep Kiddush Hashem alive. That’s the starting point, and great things can grow from there.”

Eight pallbearers slowly wheeled the small casket to the rear of the chapel and outside to a waiting hearse. Mourners walked out after the Pozner family, or stayed behind to embrace and talk.

Rabbi Edgar Gluck of Brooklyn and Rabbi Levi Stone of Norwalk, Conn., were among those gathered outside the entrance. The two are volunteers with Chesed Shel Emes, the U.S. affiliate of the Israeli organization ZAKA (Zihui Korbanot Ason, or disaster victim identification). Among their duties is to gather body parts and spilled blood for proper Jewish burial. As a chaplain working with various Connecticut police departments and the state medical examiner, Stone is often called upon to assist at the scene of a crime or accident, and he works to educate officials in Jewish burial practices. He received a call on the afternoon of Dec. 14, after the dead had been carried out of the school building, and he determined that his services were not necessary.

Like Stone, Rabbi Yisroel Deren and his wife, Vivi, of Chabad of Fairfield County in Stamford were called upon Dec. 14 to help the families. In fact, the Derens received two phone calls: one from a friend of Noah Pozner’s father, Lenny, and one from Governor Dan Malloy, a close friend of the Derens since his years as mayor of Stamford.

“I knew why we had been called,” said Vivi Deren. “It was not only because my husband is a compassionate and caring rabbi, who has brought comfort to so many hurting people. We were being asked to help because as bereaved parents ourselves, several times over, perhaps we had something more to offer—if only to be evidence that it is possible to breathe after the breath has literally been knocked out of you.”

Malloy asked the Derens to meet with the bereaved families prior to the interfaith service planned for that Sunday evening at the local high school, which was attended by President Barack Obama.

“There isn’t much you can say to a request like that,” said Vivi Deren, who did not know the Pozners.

And so, the couple traveled to the house where the Pozners were staying.

“I walked in with a prayer on my lips that whatever we say will bring comfort,” Vivi Deren said. “We were brought to a quiet room to speak with Noah’s family. I found myself listening to a broken-hearted mother describing her little boy, Noah, one of the first graders and the youngest of the victims. Noah. Someone described in the Torah as a tzaddik, a righteous person, ‘complete.’ All of humanity is considered to be his descendants, bound in a covenant with God, to partner with Him to create a world of peace and harmony, of justice, goodness and kindness. The almost universal symbols of peace, a dove and an olive branch, trace back to Noah and his story.”

Noah’s mother told Vivi Deren that her son loved rainbows.

“Rainbows!” said Vivi Deren. “The sign of God’s promise never, ever to bring a flood on the whole world again. A symbol of healing, promise, and optimism.”

Later, at the Sunday evening interfaith service, the Derens were present when Obama and Malloy met with each family. Malloy introduced Rabbi Deren as his “very good friend.”

Then, suddenly, Obama walked in without any fanfare.

“The power of this gesture is immense; he truly does convey the sense that the whole country is mourning alongside these anguished families,” Vivi Deren said of Obama. “The way he bends down to speak with Noah’s twin sister, the way he comforts the grandparents, and gently joshes the teenage siblings, the way he makes a point of saying, as he did later, that we will be with you, not just now but for the long haul.”

Leave a Reply

Please note: comments may be published in the Algemeiner print edition. Comments written in all caps will be deleted.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Blogs Sports Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic Gold Medalist Gabby Douglas to Wear Leotard With Hebrew Letters in National Competition

    Olympic gold medalist Gabby Douglas will wear a leotard bearing Hebrew lettering when she competes at the P&G Gymnastics Championships over the weekend. Douglas’ Swarovski-outlined outfit will feature the Hebrew word “Elohim,” meaning God, on its left sleeve. The Hebrew detailing honors the athlete’s “rich heritage of faith,” according to apparel manufacturer GK Elite, which produced the leotard and released a preview of it on Wednesday. The company said Douglas’ sister, Joyelle “Joy” Douglas, created the Hebrew design. The outcome of the P&G Championships will help […]

    Read more →
  • Europe Sports British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    British World Heavyweight Champion Should Be Banned From Boxing for Sounding Like Hitler, Says Ukrainian Competitor

    Britain’s world heavyweight champion, Taylor Fury, should be banned from boxing for making Nazi-like comments, a former world champion from the Ukraine said on Thursday, ahead of their upcoming match. “I was in shock at his statements about women, the gay community, and when he got to the Jewish people, he sounded like Hitler,” Wladimir Klitschko told British media, according to Reuters. “We cannot have a champion like that. Either he needs to be shut up or shut down in the ring, or […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Shows Cooking Skills and Humor on Chopped

    Rabbi Hanoch Hecht just made television history; but, unfortunately, he couldn’t have his rugelach and eat it too. Hecht became the first rabbi to compete on the hit show “Chopped,” where contestants are forced to use four random ingredients in their recipes, and have 20-30 minutes to create an appetizer, a main course and a dessert. A contestant is eliminated after each round. Hecht, 32, said that while the dishes and utensils were new, the kitchen was not kosher, so he couldn’t taste […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Music Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox Entertainer Stars in Pepsi Max Commercial as New Face of Company’s Israel Campaign (VIDEO)

    Orthodox singer and entertainer Lipa Schmeltzer is starring in a new Pepsi Max commercial for the company’s campaign in Israel. The commercial begins with a bunch of Jewish men eating at a restaurant, when Schmeltzer walks in and tries to decide what to order. An employee at the obviously Israeli eatery offers him a variety of foods, but the entertainer in the end decides on a bottle of Pepsi. Everyone in the restaurant then joins him, drinking Pepsi Max and dancing to […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Book Reviews Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    Jewish Author’s ‘Messy’ Draft Transforms Into Rock Star Novel on Amazon

    JNS.org – “Writing is a messy process,” says author Elizabeth Poliner. “People who don’t write fiction would be surprised to see what early drafts could look like.” But readers wouldn’t know “what a mess it was for the longest time,” as the Jewish author puts it, when reading Poliner’s critically acclaimed latest book, As Close to Us as Breathing. The volume garnered Amazon’s “Best Book” designation in March 2016 as well as rave reviews from the New York Times,W Magazine, NPR, […]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture Blogs Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    Sundance Tour Features Short Film About Elderly Jewish Woman’s Decision to Eat Bacon for First Time

    The Sundance Film Festival Short Film Tour, which started on Friday in New York City, features a mini-documentary about an elderly Jewish woman whose journey away from Orthodoxy leads her to taste forbidden food for the first time in her life. In Canadian director Sol Friedman’s Bacon & God’s Wrath, Razie Brownstone talks about ending her lifelong observance of keeping kosher as her 90th birthday approaches. The recently declared atheist said the discovery of the search engine Google spurred a lapse in her Jewish faith and made her decide to […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Food Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    Chabad Rabbi From New York Competes on Food Network’s ‘Chopped’ Cooking Competition

    A Chabad rabbi from Rhinebeck, NY, will face off a priest, a pastor and a nun-in-training in an upcoming episode of the Food Network‘s reality show, “Chopped,” Lubavitch.com reported. Rabbi Hanoch Hecht – who teaches up-and-coming chefs about the intricacies of kosher dietary laws at the Culinary Institute of America (CIA) — was nominated for the show by a professional chef, and went through a rigorous interview process at the Food Network’s studios in Chelsea, NY. Months later, he was informed he had been accepted as a contestant in the popular TV cooking competition. “I thought […]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Book Reviews Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief (BOOK REVIEW)

    Religion, Politics, and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief (BOOK REVIEW)

    Religion, Politics and the Origins of Palestine Refugee Relief by Asaf Romirowsky & Alexander H. Joffe (Palgrave Macmillan; 2013) Although this book came out several years ago, it remains pertinent. This is a meticulously researched book that concentrates on a very small bit of history: the time period from 1948-50 when the American Friends Service Committee, a Quaker group, was organizing refugee relief in Gaza. Before UNRWA, the UN created the United Nations Relief for Palestine Refugees (UNRPR). It outsourced […]

    Read more →