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Shelly Winters - All Ends Are The Same

Shelly Winters - All Ends Are The Same

(Printed in the Daily Breeze 1.18.06)


Shelly Winters - All Ends Are the Same

I felt very privileged to lead in a very special and good Mitzvah-good deed of escorting the soul the Shelly Winters to her eternal rest.  Shelly Winters was buried at Hillside Memorial Park.  Her burial reminds me of the prayer “He remembered that we are dust.”

Shelly’s Jewish name was Shulamis the daughter of Rachel and Joel.  The very Jewish name Shulamis means Shalom – peace, completeness and is used to say hello and goodbye.  It is a befitting name for such a colorful personality.

Shelly received many awards for acting and had the distinction of receiving two Oscars; one was for her role in the tragic Anne Frank story.  She then donated her Oscar statue to the Anne Frank House in Amsterdam.  Even though this was her first Oscar she felt compelled to share her feeling for Anne Frank, something very extraordinary. 

She had a great sense of humor and was a great writer.  She is quoted as saying “Security is when I’m very much in love with somebody extraordinary who loves me back.” 

In 1949 Shelly went to visit the holy land of Israel.  She was very active in helping the young state with the buying and selling of Israeli Bonds.  She was a great supporter of Hadassah, the women’s organization.  She helped anyone she could.

This week we celebrated Martin Luther King Day.  He had a dream.  Shelly also had a dream but Shelly dreamed with her eyes open.  She dreamt to help and she helped many.

When I think of Shelly I remember a story found in the Jewish Talmud.  A rabbi had the good fortune to meet the wonderful angel of good luck  – Elijah the Prophet.  Elijah said to the Rabbi “Come let me show you two people that will merit Paradise in the world to come.”  The Rabbi followed the angel and they came upon two people.   “These are the worthy ones said Elijah.” 

“What is their merit?” asked the Rabbi.

The good angel answered “When they see unhappy people they extend a kibitz – a joke and change the unhappy people into happy ones.  For this mitzvah – good deed alone they merit Paradise.”  This was Shelly!  Her ideas and shenanigans brought out the joy and happiness of life, making people happy.

Shelly was sick for the past few months. 

As a Rabbi I am always asked what’s better, to die suddenly, or to fall sick and then die.  I would like to answer this question today with an interesting observation.

Shelly passed away on Saturday, the Jewish Shabbos.  It is the day of rest.  It is the day that Jews, world over, attend the synagogues and congregations.  There they practice the custom of reading from the Holy Torah - the Bible in parchment scroll.  The reading was the story of the Patriarch Jacob falling sick and calling to his children.  When they come to see their sick father he blessed them and lovingly said his last goodbyes.

According to Kabbalah Jacob prayed to get sick so his family would understand that he had to leave his body and live on in spirit.  Life is an act, called transcendence.  The process of spiritual sparks found in the earth ascent by moving to the vegetable and then to animal and then to man and from man to spirit.  When a person dies their soul has accomplished the act of sublimation.  Jacob’s soul was ready to live on but only through the offspring and in spirit.  Jacob wanted his children to be ready as much as possible for the moment when his soul took flight and left his body.  So by falling sick he prepared the children.  He even had the time to bless them.

It may be said of Shelly Winters.  By falling sick she prepared her family and friends for the transition.

Let me leave you all with this one thought:  We must reach out and extend a helping hand to our fellow human beings whenever possible.  We must bring joy and happiness to those that thirst for it.

At the end, the great Shelly Winters leaves this world like we all do, with some sand on our body.  This is in keeping with the words of the Funeral Service Psalm “The dust returns to the earth as it was, but the spirit returns to God who gave it.