Sheloshim Memorial for Arthur Grant - Hebrew Union College - Jewish Institute of Religion
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Sheloshim Memorial for Arthur Grant

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Thursday, May 1, 2003

On Wednesday evening, April 30, the College family in Cincinnati gathered for a service in memory of our friend and colleague, Arthur Grant. The service was beautifully conducted by Dr. Ed Goldman, Dr. Richard Sarason, and Cantor Sharon Kohn, with appropriate psalms read by Dr. Nili Fox and Yoni Sarason. Dr. Jonathan Cohen spoke at the service.(I have attached a copy of his memorial message). Dr. Cohen's moving words expressed our deep sorrow at the loss of our friend, as well as our hope that our love and concern will continue to provide a measure of solace to Enid, Jonathan, Ben, and Jeremy.

In memory of Arthur Grant, April 30, 2003:

Arthur and I never concluded our conversation about the predicament of being in one location and feeling the need to be in another; that internal urge to go that somehow persists after you get there. It may have in part been the recognition of a traveler's soul that attracted us to him. However one may wish to define this longing, it is not an unknown phenomenon among Jews. Occasionally, it is even reflected in our writings.

While our history is riddled with travelers affected by this condition, one prominent figure stands out: that of the prophet Yonah ben Amitai. Tradition tells us that Yonah was born to the tribe of Zebulun, a tribe of sea-farers and traveling merchants. He was a regular pilgrim, as (incidentally) was his wife.

On one famous occasion, Yonah traveled south, to Yaffo, from the north of Israel, to take a boat to Tarshish, not wanting to go to Nineveh. According to Pirkei d'Rabbi Eliezer, having been cast into a stormy sea and swallowed by a large fish, he toured the depths of existence and saw the wonders of the universe. He ultimately reached his destination to become the victim of his own prophetic success; sitting on the outskirts of a big city, exposed to the elements. The Talmud tells us that following these experiences he learned to control his prophetic inspiration, and turned quiet.

Little wonder that we often see the risk, discomfort, and unease associated with the lifestyle of the true pilgrim - traveler. But we should not overlook its merits.

It was in the abyss that Yonah struck a deal with his maker. He was identified as a `zadik gamur', and true prophet. We read in the Yerushalmi that it was in the context of a pilgrimage that he experienced the Joy of Jerusalem in `simchat beit ha-sho'eva', and encountered the `shechina'. We learn that those who had not experienced `simchat bet ha-sho'eva' -- the water festival -- never experienced joy, and that this simcha was not created but for pilgrims.

May we celebrate the life, gifts, and qualities of a true pilgrim-traveler. Arthur, always arriving back in Cincinnati to soon meet friends, eat Chinese, and talk Toronto, Europe, and Jerusalem. Tactfully, cautiously quiet, experienced in life's turmoils, sensitive -- Arthur. A fine friend, generous, and truly world-embracing. May his memory be a blessing.

Founded in 1875, Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion is North America's leading institution of higher Jewish education and the academic, spiritual, and professional leadership development center of Reform Judaism. HUC-JIR educates leaders to serve North American and world Jewry as rabbis, cantors, educators, and nonprofit management professionals, and offers graduate programs to scholars and clergy of all faiths. With centers of learning in Cincinnati, Jerusalem, Los Angeles, and New York, HUC-JIR's scholarly resources comprise the renowned Klau Library, The Jacob Rader Marcus Center of the American Jewish Archives, museums, research institutes and centers, and academic publications. In partnership with the Union for Reform Judaism and the Central Conference of American Rabbis, HUC-JIR sustains the Reform Movement's congregations and professional and lay leaders. HUC-JIR's campuses invite the community to cultural and educational programs illuminating Jewish heritage and fostering interfaith and multiethnic understanding.