DELIVERED BY RABBI BERNHARD PRESLER
FRIDAY, OCTOBER 22, 1999
STAR OF DAVID
When cherished ties are broken, and the chain of love is shattered, only trust and the strength of faith can lighten the heaviness of the heart. At times, the pain of separation seems more than we can bear, but if we dwell too long on our loss, we embitter our hearts and harm ourselves and those around us.
And in truth, grief is a great teacher, when it sends us back to serve and bless the living. We learn how to counsel and comfort those who. Like ourselves, are bowed with sorrow. We learn when to keep silence in their presence and when a word will assure them of our love and concern.
Thus, even when they are gone, our loved ones are with us, moving us to live as, in their higher moments, they themselves wished to live. We remember them now; they live on in our hearts; they are an abiding blessing.
We could not have our sensitivity without fragility. Mortality is the tax that we pay for the privilege of love, thought, creative work-- the toll on the bridge of being from which clods of earth and snow-peaked mountain summits are exempt. Just because we are human, we are prisoners of the years. Yet, that very prison is the room of discipline in which we, driven by the urgency of time, create.
A poet visited with a bereaved friend and tried to console him on his loss. Despite his eloquence and poetic ability, he discovered that words were hard to find. He wrote:
would be his friends are dumb,
how helpless then
There are not adequate words with which to try to mitigate the pain, or to console the inconsolable. This is why we have come together, in deepest despair, and we acknowledge that words are of little help. Perhaps our just being here expresses a sentiment which goes beyond words. It is hard for us to believe that the life of Jarl Vere has ended so suddenly and tragically. . .
His death leaves us sad at the thought of the unfinished years. And yet, we must find consolation in the memories we have of a loving son, a good person, a loyal friend, a person of integrity. . .
I speak to you with a great sadness inside of me, because I know that there are no easy words to bring consolation to you. You grieve over the loss of your child, your brother, your friend. When someone dies at so young an age, our voices rise up, questioning the justice in this world. We search for reasons why so good a person as Jarl Vere had to die so young. But even as we question, a courage is awakened within us, giving us the strength to meet this most difficult hour. This courage helps us to focus upon his life, his dreams and his struggle.
He never became bitter. He refused to despair. He grasped on to the courage with his being and held on for his sake and for yours.
Jarl had great courage. But I would like to think that rather than taking it with him, he bequeaths it to you. His fortitude of being is his legacy to you; which hopefully will enable you to transcend the difficulties of life and death. We pray, with one voice, that his soul rests in peace, and that those who mourn him know comfort.
With broken hearts and tears in our eyes, we come together to mourn the loss of Jarl Vere. Jarl is mourned by his loving family, his father, Atle, his mother, Anne, his brother, Atle, his friend, Sheila, and other relatives and friends.
Jarl was born in Oslo, Norway on September 14, 1971—28 years ago, the son of Atle and Anne.
He was extremely intelligent, having graduated from college summa cum laude. Anne, as Jarl’s mother, your memories of Jarl are very special. You remembered him when you said, “He was very well-loved, very intellectual. He had his own business in computer consulting and did a great deal of work on the Internet. He was very well-thought of. During the past two years, we worked on a special project for John Hancock in Boston, Massachusetts.”
Atle, as Jarl’s father, you told me that, “He was a great young man. He finished at the top of his class at F.I.U., he ran a computer consulting firm. Born in Norway, he grew up in Miami. He was always good in sports; running, athletics. But he was always particularly interested in computers, even at a very early age. He enjoyed travelling, he spoke several languages.”
Atle, you were Jarl’s brother and you will always remember that you and Jarl were extremely close. You were only two years apart, and you were roommates. You said, “He was a good soul, extremely compassionate, a very good person. He would always jump to anyone’s defense. He was a very rare individual; there are so few people in the world like him. He was spiritually extraordinary.”
We will never understand why Jarl’s life had to end. Nagging questions about the fairness of life, about the capriciousness of death. . . we will never be able to unravel the mysteries of fate.
We can, however, understand what was real; those qualities of Jarl’s life which we can hold on to . . . forever.
These realities can never perish. Because the love which you had for Jarl, and which he returned to you, ten fold, is enduring, it is immortal, it will always be with you. It can, it must, overcome all.
Jarl is no longer with us, and the numbing grief which wells up within us, the despair we feel, is very real. But so is the love, the gentleness, the kindness, the spirit of this very special young man.
Jarl has left to us a legacy of love, of strength, of goodness, and even of hope.
Our task is indeed to mourn Jarl, but also to celebrate and honor the qualities he leaves behind. Ours is to embrace his family, and in turn, strengthen each other.
The candle of Jarl’s life can never be extinguished. His love, his spirit will never end.
Now he must rest in peace.
May the memory of Jarl Vere be forever in your hearts, may he be remembered by all those who were privileged to know him, and let us say, Amen.
Thanks to Rabbi
Presler for the text of his words.