Saturday 6 February 2010

Dayenu: In Loving Memory of Meir Ifergan z"l

Samedi le 5 décembre 2009

Nous avons le regret de vous faire part du décès de Meir Ifergan.

Il laisse dans le deuil son épouse Jacqueline, ses enfants, Ariel (Karyne) et Shalva, sa petite-fille Elia, ses frères et soeurs, Jacques, Nonu, Armand, Rachel et Marie, ses nièces et neveux, sa famille et ses amis…

"Quand tu es heureux, la vie passe vite."
- Ariel Ifergan, eulogizing his father Meir Ben Yosef v' Fibi, a great teacher, a tzaddik, someone who was blessed and was himself a blessing, and was happy. (Glen Rotchin,

Meir Ifergan guided my entire family through our bar and bat mitzvahs—not just our three children, but my husband Russell and myself, as neither of us had ever read from the Torah before. As my community's Rabbi, Ron Aigen, said during his eulogy for Meir and again at the Sheloshim memorial service, one of Meir’s many gifts was his ability to connect with each person individually. He used his pets, his herbal ointments and concoctions, his knowledge, his love and compassion, his “you can do it” philosophy…in short, he did whatever it took to reach each of his students. And, make no mistake, at Dorshei Emet, we were, all of us, his students…

Our children did not go to parochial elementary or high schools, and as the time drew nearer for our oldest to start his bar mitzvah lessons, Russ and I worried about how he would take them. We remembered how the kids we had known growing up had suffered and complained through theirs. What a blessing it was for me, on picking Alex up at Meir and Jacqueline’s each week, to have him pull the car door closed, turn to face me and say, “You know Mom, I may complain about going sometimes but I have to say, that was the best part of my week.”

This, from a twelve-year-old--perfectly miraculous.

Meir’s love and pride in his family were/are also legendary. He never missed an opportunity to describe Ariel’s most recent endeavour, be it performing and producing his latest play or educational video, or to talk of his granddaughter Elia. No one who had the privilege of hearing Meir and Ariel chant together at Rosh Hashanah services will ever forget the experience. His love and concern for Shalva also came through loud and clear as he spoke of her. I had the privilege of chatting briefly with Meir by phone several weeks before his death, and he told me how Jacqueline was his rock, that words alone could not convey the magnitude of her help and support in his illness, or the depths of his gratitude.

The extent of Meir’s knowledge of Torah and the Sephardi and Ashkenazi traditions and musical heritage were also breath-taking. I remember commenting on this on one of our children’s final “dress rehearsals,” whereupon Meir looked up and, eyes sparkling, allowed, “Well, when I was young, there was no Nintendo. This,” he said, gesturing to the sanctuary, the open scroll set on the Bimah, “this was my Nintendo!”

I hadn’t known of Meir’s having lost his parents and brother in the devastating earthquake in Agadir in 1960 before his funeral. As we daily follow the sequelae of the earthquake in Haiti, it is comforting to think that despite such tragic early experiences, Meir’s life is a testament of the good that can still be nurtured to accomplishment with the necessary love and community support. Meir’s life is proof that living well is the best revenge.

Meir’s infectious good humour, his enthusiasm, sense of mission and pride in our accomplishments, his vigour and positive energy—in short, his blessings to us--are evident in every one of the eloquent comments posted on the online memorials to his passing. I wish we could have included them all and invite everyone to read and perhaps add to the personal tributes on our Facebook page, “In Loving Memory of Meir Ifergan z"l” or at

If Meir had only been a devoted son and brother, it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been a loving husband, it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been a proud father and grandfather, it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been a nurturing teacher, it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been a learned teacher of Hebrew, the holidays and traditions, it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been the wind beneath our bar and bat mitzvahs wings, it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been the creator of his unforgettable "mi-shebeirakhs," it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been a caring fellow congregant, it would have been enough for us.

If Meir had only been a mensch, it would have been enough for us.

And so, how much more grateful should we be for all of Meir’s gifts?

It was as if Meir Ifergan guided each one of us through our bar and bat mitzvahs, as though his calling and greatest pleasure was to help each of us see in ourselves all the good he saw in us, and in the world. May his memory be for a blessing.

1 comment:

  1. mr ifergan was my french teacher without him i wouldn't have graduated high school RIP shalom brother