WHILE WALKING THE DOG
Michael D. Hanna-Fein
Lynn Ruth Miller
you are sorrowful look again in your heart, and you shall see
That in truth you are weeping for that which has been your delight.
Early Monday morning, February 27, 2012, this world lost Michael D. Hanna-Feinís
presence, but it did not lose what Michael was to all of us who knew him. That
energy and goodness that was uniquely his will guide and inspire us as long as
any of us are here to remember and honor him.
Thirteen years ago, Michael founded the on-line magazine, THE GANTSEH MEGILLAH
to promote Jewish culture. That publication has been an amazingly popular
vehicle that spread Jewish wisdom and understanding throughout the world. I
didnít discover the Megillah until 2002 and its writings and my contributions to
the magazine have enriched my own life ever since. Best were Michaelís
editorials. They always brought balance and reason into observations about the
month just past, tinged with compassion for injustice and optimism for the
Michael was far more than an editor to me. He was a friend in the truest sense
of the word. Websterís Dictionary defines a friend as one attached to another by
affection or esteem. Michael was far more than that to us all. For me, he was a
source of wisdom and perspective. I would often call him with some foolish
interpersonal problem and he would cast the light of reason on my upset.
Suddenly, it would seem insignificant and unimportant in the larger scheme of my
Michael was my favorite arm chair philosopher. We two would talk for hours about
the meaning of life and why we had to believe in the value of our dreams. He
always understood that we need to keep our eyes pinned to the main chance and
ignore the little upsets along the way. I took his advice because I know he
lived it. He suffered unbelievably harsh physical and emotional challenges in
his life. Yet, he never let them tarnish his vision of creating a huge, loving
Jewish family that shared ideas and grew richer for knowing one another. That is
what THE GANTSEH MEGILLAH did for all of us who followed it. It made us feel
part of something bigger than ourselves.
I am a Jewish atheist. It was Michaelís respect for the tradition that I have
ignored for so many years that made me realize how basic it is to my way of
thinking. He showed me that although I do not go to a temple or worship in a
group, I am essentially Jewish, a part of that great and beautiful heritage.
This new understanding helps me through the hard times by reminding me that
human beings can do anything and everything because they are human. Jews, after
all are humanists. That is a core value of our religion.
Michael always showed me the underlying meaning of each holiday and the joys of
observing the rituals that help us remember the sufferings of a people oppressed
and hated for nothing more than their belief in a higher power. I honor that
tradition now because our forefatherís survival made it possible for me to
Michael and the Megillah reminded all of us monthly of our Jewishness. He made
me understand what I am and helped me feel part of a greater familyÖ.the
Megillah family. As it is often said, ďThey hated us; we fought them; we won.
Letís eat.Ē Thatís the meaning of being Jewish. Thatís the practicality of it.
Thatís the fun.
Michael never took his Jewishness for granted. He did not blindly accept its
laws or observe customs that made no sense to him. He evaluated each ritual and
strove to help us all understand the reason behind our traditions. When he did
that, he bound us all together with a common understanding of why we are who we
When you think of it that is a huge accomplishment for one man to do. Michael
did that for his Megillah family and for each of us fortunate enough to know him
personally. We must never forget that Michaelís spirit has not left us. It is up
to all of us now to take up where he left off and continue to preserve our
culture and allow it to adapt to the demands of each new day.
I grieve that his body has left this earth but perhaps that isnít a bad thing.
He was in constant pain and no human being, especially one as sweet and loving
as Michael should have to endure that kind of agony. Indeed, I weep that Michael
will never console me on the telephone, again; that I will never be cheered by
his voice. It saddens me that he cannot pet his puppies or sit across the
breakfast table with his ArnoldÖbut I know the essence of who he is, remains
with me and with all of us always. He lives eternally in our hearts.
What we have once enjoyed deeply we can never lose.
All that we love deeply becomes a part of us.
(free) to the Gantseh
Megillah. The Gantseh
Megillah and GantsehMegillah.com
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