Billie Bob June 8, 1928----May 12, 1986
Tonight and tomorrow, on the Jewish lunar calendar, 3rd of Iyar, is the yartzeit of my father,
Billie Bob. ז'ל
Dad died at an pretty young age, 57, of a heart attack. It happened to be the same age as his mother when she died.
My siblings and I tread carefully as we head to that age.
My father was a good man. Not perfect, but a good man.
We didn't have a real close relationship, but I know he loved me.
Dad holding me probably in 1962.
Of all the things I have been grateful to my father for, the thing that means the most is the following.
After the death of my sister Pesha, my mother and I went to Israel to tour and visit with friends.
It was in Israel that I became exposed to a more authentic practice of Torah Judaism.
In the couple of years that followed our return trip, I began to add more Yiddishkeit into my life.
Now we were members of a Reform Temple and my father was a Reform convert so al pi halacha
he was not recognized as Jewish according to Torah law. But here in our world at the time he was Jewish.
We were "religious" Reform. We had family Shabbos dinners every week. Dad said kiddish, mom lit candles and motzi was said over challa.
We couldn't go out to socialize on Friday nights. We went to services at the Temple every week.
Pesach was kosher because we made seders and mostly ate at my grandmother's house during the holiday. Both mom and dad taught in the Temple Sunday School.
When I started to become more observant while in high school, my father never discouraged me.
He spent the extra money to buy me kosher meat. Mom and dad let me have my own pots and pans and dishes. He even paid associate dues to the more tradition schul were my grandmother went so I could go to services there and feel like I belonged, always going with me.
Our Reform rabbi was not as thrilled as my parents were about my studies and "new" observances.
When I made the decision to attend a two year Baal Tshuvah program in Chicago, the rabbi told my father that he was going to try to talk me out of it.
My father actually told this rabbi, the rabbi that converted him, the rabbi that married him and my mother, the rabbi that bar mitzvahed me and buried my sister, that if that was his intention then he should stay away from me.
Baruch Hashem for giving me Billie Bob as a father.
Here I am, all the years later, with a few ups and downs here and there, trying to live a Torah true life
just like he encouraged me to.
So tonight, drink a l'chaim to my dad, Yehuda ben Avraham. Billie Bob .ז'ל
Dad, may you rest in peace and be comforted knowing that Dina, Moish and I, are doing fine.
Say hello to Pesha and see you in the future.
I love, miss and respect you,