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.


Current day month ye@r *

More...

  • Analysis Arts and Culture Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    Beyond ‘Klinghoffer’: Opera’s Composer, Librettist Have Broader Jewish Problem

    JNS.org – One of the most controversial operas in recent memory, “The Death of Klinghoffer,” debuted Oct. 20 at New York’s Metropolitan Opera. The Met has scheduled seven more performances through November. The first staging did not occur without protest, as about 400 demonstrators—including Jewish communal and nationally recognized leaders—came to Lincoln Center to denounce the anti-Jewish and anti-Israel opera. “Klinghoffer,” the creation of composer John Adams and librettist Alice Goodman, premiered in 1991—with few additional stagings. The opera is based [...]

    Read more →
  • Arts and Culture US & Canada Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli Actress Gal Gadot in Talks to Star in Ben-Hur Remake

    Israeli actress Gal Gadot is in negotiations to take on the female lead role in the remake of the 1959 classic Ben-Hur, according to The Hollywood Reporter. If the deal is finalized Gadot will play Esther, a slave and Ben-Hur’s love interest. Actor Jack Huston will star as the Jewish prince who is betrayed into slavery by his childhood friend Messala, played by Toby Kebbell. Ben-Hur fights for his freedom and vengeance with the help of Morgan Freeman’s character, who trains Ben-Hur how to win at chariot-racing. [...]

    Read more →
  • Jewish Identity Sports Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    Young Israelis Try to Crowd-Fund Their Way to Major League Baseball Playoffs

    JNS.org – Baseball, hot dogs, and apple pie are the American dream. So why do two young men who have built their lives in Israel have a GoFundMe crowd-funding webpage with the urgent message that they need $3,000 to travel to the U.S. to watch the Kansas City Royals and Baltimore Orioles square off for Major League Baseball’s (MLB) American League championship? Brothers Naftali and Yoni Schwartz, 27 and 25, respectively, are Kansas City natives. Even though they made aliyah with their [...]

    Read more →
  • Blogs Sports Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Race Cars Speed Through Jerusalem in Amazing Exhibition

    Some 3,000 years ago, King David probably never imagined cars racing at 240 kilometers per hour (150 miles per hour) through the ancient capital of the Jewish people. But on Monday and Tuesday, October 6-7, thousands of Israelis lined the streets to watch Porsche, Audi, and Ferrari race cars fly through the capital against the backdrop of the Tower of David, the Old City Walls, and other city landmarks. The second annual non-competitive Jerusalem Formula One Road Show had been [...]

    Read more →
  • Israel Sports NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    NBA Superstar LeBron James Says He Wants to Visit Israel

    Cleveland Cavaliers forward LeBron James expressed interest in visiting Israel someday, local news site Cleveland.com reported on Sunday. Speaking to Israeli reporters before the Cleveland Cavaliers’ preseason debut against Maccabi Tel Aviv, the NBA star said he had never visited the Jewish state but “I want to look forward to going there if I get an opportunity to.” When asked by an Israeli reporter if there was “any chance that LeBron James and Cleveland comes to Tel Aviv,” the athlete said [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    Florida Rabbi Dominates Former Basketball Star Congressman in Hoops Showdown (VIDEO)

    A Florida-based Chabad rabbi put former basketball star, U.S. Congressman Curt Clawson to shame on the court when the two faced off one-on-one recently. A YouTube video, posted online on Tuesday, shows Rabbi Fishel Zaklos of Chabad of Naples shooting hoops with the Florida politician, who played basketball in high school and at Purdue University in Indiana. The game took place in the parking lot of the Chabad Jewish center run by Zaklos. During the 1-minute clip, Zaklos scores two impressive [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    David Blatt’s Cleveland Cavaliers Rout Maccabi Tel Aviv, 107-80

    JNS.org – Less than five months after leading Maccabi Tel Aviv to its sixth European basketball title, David Blatt, now the head coach of the NBA’s Cleveland Cavaliers, routed his former team in an exhibition game on Sunday, with the Cavaliers dominating Maccabi 107-80 at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. The 20,562 fans in attendance witnessed Lebron James’s first appearance in a Cavaliers uniform since he left the club in free agency for the Miami Heat four years ago. [...]

    Read more →
  • Sports US & Canada Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    Jewish New York Giants Guard Plans to Fast on Yom Kippur

    New York Giants offensive guard Geoff Schwartz said on Wednesday that he will not eat anything between sundown Friday and sundown Saturday in observation of Yom Kippur, ESPN reported. “If I was playing, I wouldn’t fast, because I’ve got to be able to fuel myself to play,” said the Jewish athlete, who is on short-term leave due to a toe injury. “But it’s not that tough, really. I’ll eat dinner at 5:00 Friday, then I’ll go to services and I’ll just [...]

    Read more →



Sign up now to receive our regular news briefs.