David Rose: A Father’s Words To Mr. Sharansky

Mr. Sharansky,

When I heard you were coming here to honour my son, Damon, I felt I had to say something of meaning and value to fit the occasion. Don’t worry I won’t keep you long.

When Damon went to Jerusalem for meetings, during those long journeys he would call me on his ‘diburit’ and we would have a discussion, which for me was very special. Like the good son that he was, he allowed me the floor to pontificate, so to speak, on my favourite topics; politics and the ignorance of most Jews today about Judaism; our history, and perhaps worst of all about Israel.

In my view it was also so obvious we needed a central umbrella organization to monitor and coordinate an appropriate reaction to every act of anti-Semitism, Israel bashing, or that we Jews have no right to be here. Like the denial of the Holocaust, these can be so easily refuted and exposed for what they are: blatant lies from evil doers.

In these discussions we often spoke of you, Mr. Sharansky, and my belief that you could enlist the cream of Jewish brains the world over to effectively counter the evil being spread against us. Why you? Because, Mr. Sharansky, you are a hero of Israel which cannot be denied. You are one of the most respected Jews in the world, and that cannot be denied. This was a recurring topic I would bring up and those discussion remain amongst my most treasured memories of my son, Damon. But that is not all. There is a little more to tell.

David unwraps two Bechas’(tiny kiddush cups)

In Yiddish we call these Bechas, wine goblets. They don’t look much like goblets, never the less, they were given as Bechas by Damon’s grandparents at a family gathering on the eve of their emigration to Israel in 1962. Our family was riddled with Rabbonin and Dayonim, so Damon’s Grandfather, my father, being an orthodox rabbi, naturally had to say something linked to learning before making the presentation. He spoke of crowns. In English, crowns have two meanings – a denomination of money, or a title. He was referring to title, quoting the Hebrew word keter for crown. He went on to speak of three crowns: the crown of Kehuna, priesthood, that of kingship, and the crown of learning, or knowledge – the Torah.

A person may be a priest, but if he is an evil priest; that crown should be denied him. A person can be a king, but if he is a cruel tyrant without compassion; he can be deposed because he doesn’t deserve his crown. A person can be learned having studied the Torah, but if his actions don’t reflect what he has learned; the Torah is of no use to him. But above all these crowns there is one other crown, and that is the crown of a good name. A shem tov. Damon’s grandfather, my father, felt he could in all honesty claim he was leaving England with a good name. Then, unwrapping these two Bechas, he said he was also leaving behind two little crowns; the crowns of children, Ateret avot b’nei bonim, which belong to his two little grandchildren, Jason aged 5 and Damon aged 2.

At the funeral people came up to me and told me how Damon had been their mentor. In the article the next day in Haaretz, Damon was described as a visionary. Is that not a form of priesthood?

A rabbi told me Damon and he used to study together the parasha to be read out in shul. Another said he was returning the book on Rambam Damon had lent him, but wanted to keep it as he would treasure it as something he had shared with Damon. Yet another said Damon somehow found time to engage in intellectual discussions with him; that was his special relationship with Damon. Can we not therefore confer on Damon the crown of knowledge.

And what of the crown of kingship? Was not Damon a sort of king of the North? Did he not have power to help cities and institutions? In the time of war, when rockets rained down on Nahariya, did he not use his power wisely and with compassion to alleviate suffering where he could? People, many people, told me they would miss his guidance, knowledge and compassion he brought to all who knew him. Damon has gone, but the final crown did not go with him. That he left behind, the crown of a good name, a shem tov.

Mr. Sharansky, Damon comes from a family of Zionists; he loved his people and he loved his country. He was, and for me he will always be, a Prince of Israel.

David Rose, Father


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