Tonight is my Zaidee's yahrzeit: the anniversary of the day my grandfather passed away, according to the Jewish Calendar. I will keep the commentary on this post brief, and simply share the eulogy that we delivered at his funeral service, with a few pictures of the most loving man; a man whose family meant the world to him, who was also deeply loved by his family in return. During this COVID19 global crisis, when the world feels fragile and disconnected, it feels especially important to pause and reflect on those who shine (or shone) light on our lives.
I happened to have a yahrzeit candle on hand, so tonight before bedtime the kids and I lit the candle together and shared memories about Zaidee. Even in their short lives, he had an impression on them and they will always remember his loving, kind spirit.
In Hebrew, the yahrzeit candle is called "ner neshama" which translates to "soul candle", and that makes my heart happy; to be bringing light into this time of darkness, by remembering his gentle soul.
A Eulogy for Albert Binstock (from April 12, 2019)
We are all here today because we have been lucky to know our Zaidee Albert Binstock, better known as “Butch”. To have known Zaids is to love him, and know you were loved in return. To be a part of his family is to be a part of him. Today we come together, united by our shared love for Butch, to celebrate his life.
Butch was born to Chaim and Esther Binstock on September 3rd, 1925 in Toronto. He was the youngest of 7 siblings, all of whom have descendents here today. As the baby, he was cherished and protected by his older siblings. We would like to think that he is with them now, catching up, and holding hands with his sister Merle.
It was as a result of Butch’s upbringing that he valued his family and faith over everything. To this day, the Binstock mishpocha - and its mascot, the rubber chicken - still gather twice a year to spin dreidels and play baseball. With over 100 members and growing, our family’s connection and commitment to each other are owed to Butch, who started the tradition of our bi-annual celebrations. Butch was the shamash to our extended family, lighting each of our own flames and guiding us to live a life based on integrity, tzedakah and respect.
Our Zaidee met his b’sheret Joyce Weinstein when they lived on Dundas Street West. He was the son of the butcher, and Joyce was literally the girl next door whose parents ran a grocery store across the street. He was attracted to her undeniable beauty and spirit. As she will tell you, she had many interested suitors but it was Butchy who wrote her letters and finally won over her heart. As the story goes, they were necking one day when Zaids asked her if he could park his shoes under her couch. She said yes. And there his shoes stayed for 73 years.
To our Bubby: your love, respect and commitment to each other is something the rest of us can only aspire to. You were truly two parts of a whole. Even in his last moments on Wednesday, after he had become unresponsive, with his very last ounce of strength and connection to this earth, he felt your touch and moved his lips to return your kisses.
As Joyce and Butch began their life together, their shared values of Judaism, community and ba’al shem tov became the foundation as they grew their family. Butch and Joyce were blessed with a son, Howard, and then a daughter, Briana. Butch worked hard to ensure his family lived a good life, and was rewarded with nachas from his exceptional children. When Bubs and Zaids moved to Baycrest, Zaids was adamant that a photo of the four of them be placed on the wall in front of their bed so that he could see his family first when he woke up every morning.
To Howard and Briana - your dad was proud of you both, every day of his life. Your unending commitment to him not only in these recent years but all your lives, is the greatest gift you could have given him. The apple doesn’t fall far from this tree.
Speaking of nachas, our Zaidee was the proudest grandfather that ever lived. Anyone who saw him often enough, probably caught him wearing his favourite sweatshirt - with a picture of all his grandchildren on it - once, twice, or a hundred times. He was never afraid to show his emotions or express his love and deep commitment to his family. When we were young, he would make us laugh by wiggling his ears or telling us that he was bald because his hair flew out the car window. He gave the best butterfly kisses and was full of humour, telling us when to “bring it up at the next meeting!” after a grepsel.
While he was always thrilled to get a call or a visit, he never wanted to be a burden. He would forbid us from driving in bad weather to see him and was always concerned about each of our well-being first and foremost. He was such an important person in our lives no matter where he lived; giving shuffleboard lessons in Hollybrook, Florida, saying tear-filled speeches at the head of our Seder table, or showing us off with pride at the Terraces at Baycrest.
We are so lucky to have him as a role-model, to watch him continuously perform mitzvah after mitzvah, and give so much of himself to others. We are grateful that he fought so hard to stay in our lives for as long as possible. We have said our goodbyes to him a few times over the years but he would always rally back because he had so much to live for. We are so happy to have had the gift of extra time with him.
In his role as a great-grandfather, Zaidee was always ready with a big, sloppy kiss, and a giant hug. Bubby & Zaidee’s apartment was filled, wall-to-wall, with pictures of their family and especially their great-grandchildren. Our children are so lucky to have had him in their lives and no one brought him more joy than his 7 mezuzahs (with another one on the way).
Upon learning of Zaidee’s passing, my 4-year-old Ari suggested that we should all take the parts of Zaidee that live on in each of us and put them back together so that he can come back to life. And while we know that physically this is not possible, if we stay true to keeping him in each of our hearts, remembering his legacy, and passing on his values, then he will forever live on through the imprint that he made in each of our hearts.
Butch always lived his life true to himself, his values, and the things he held dear. The decisions he made were driven by love. The words he spoke were filled with kindness. The actions he took came from a place of integrity and of giving to others. He demonstrated strength, determination and resilience in everything he did. He was the definition of a good man who lived his life with the utmost integrity.
He was a mensch. On Wednesday, he waited until his beloved bride had left the hospital before breathing his last breath - a tactic he learned from his big sister Merle. Once again, he was driven by his love for his family above all else. His last wishes were to have his family by his side for a Shema, just as he used to wrap his long arms around us underneath his tallis at shul.
Zaids, thank you for your love, hugs, kisses and smiles. We will miss you and love you until the end of our days. Alav Hashalom.