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One of the best George Carlin routines ever. Miss ya, George!

Posted by Brandon Weber on Friday, March 27, 2015


Someone found a Facebook post of mine about the man in the title from over two years ago and re-posted it yesterday.. Some people questioned the as to why? Here is the testimony of one of his former wive: (I was at different times, a roomate, an employee, a friend and enemy, an associate. and ultimately vociferous foe)

May 9th, 2006 – Email Deposition:

The following is my personal testimony of what it was like to be married to Mordechai for almost 7 years. I share what I have known of Mordechai’s drastic and tragic dark side. I focus upon the shadow aspects of our marriage and his personality, for I believe they are crucial to share, given what has unfolded in these past weeks. Please keep in mind that I could also write pages worth of testimony about the light side of Mordechai – from the beauty of his teachings to his ardent dedication to making a contribution in the world and helping others. May his light side and his dark side know full integration.

Also, while you can pass this testimony on to other concerned parties, please do not share my name with the press or in public. I have been advised by lawyers not to let my name to appear in public. Thanks.

* Background: I was 19 years old when I first encountered Mordechai. I was studying in Jerusalem the summer after my freshman year of college. I was an eager baalat-teshuva, newly “turned on” to the beauty of Jewish practice. I devotedly went to his classes at Isralight and other venues. We went on our first date the spring after I graduated college. I was 23 and star-struck. He was 15 years my senior. We got married at the beginning of 1998, less than 8 months after our first date. Several people warned me about Mordechai’s past. He adamantly insisted that the bulk of the rumors were lies, exaggerations and the evil workings of other people’s jealousies. I believed him.

He told me early on about some of his sexual misdemeanors as well as affairs he had on his 2nd wife. He assured me that he had done teshuva, changed, and that things with me would be different. I was all too ready to believe this as well. Plus I thought that I could help him, fix him; that my love could help him become the great man he had the potential to be. As soon as we started seriously dating, he pulled me into working for him full-time on writing and organizational projects. I was dedicated to his “mission” of Jewish Rennaissance and gave it all of my time and energy. His emotional abuse and manipulations began immediately upon our marriage. I was so dedicated to the mission that I endured it. Also, the nature of the his manipulations was such that I did not feel I could leave. The years that followed were a strange mix of great excitement, activity and purpose, as well as huge despair, confusion and pain. On the outside I seemed to be living a fairy tale of success. Behind closed doors I was living a life of enslavement, debasement, manipulation and verbal abuse. On top of the abuse, Mordechai was having numerous affairs on me; lying to me on a daily basis.

Finally, I found out about one of the affairs. Finally, my eyes were opened and I started to see through the fog of falsehoods. I fled Israel in February of 2004, only to be lured back in June 2004 by Mordechai’s promises of change and commitment. But nothing changed. By early August of 2004 I demanded and received a divorce.

Soon thereafter, Mordechai came “under attack” by his enemies in America. In the fall of 2004, articles about his sexual misconduct and questionable reputation came out in America and Israel. He begged me to keep our divorce a secret until all of this bad press died down. I reluctantly agreed – mostly because I believed that the work that was going on at Bayit Chadash was valuable and I did not want to jeopardize it. Mordechai lied to the reporters and all who asked, saying that we were still married. He also lied to the Rabbinic supporters who helped wage a campaign to protect him. Mordechai refused to publicly tell the truth about our divorce until Pesach of 2005 (March/April). I am ashamed to admit that I was manipulated into also remaining silent and covering up to protect him, as I had done myriad times during our marriage.

Now that I see the damage that Mordechai has caused in so many people’s lives I deeply regret that I did not speak out earlier about the abuse that I suffered at his hands and the abuse that I knew that he inflicted upon others. I also deeply regret that I did not speak out about the countless lies and manipulations that I witnessed him engage in on a regular basis. I sorely regret that I led people to believe that we had a good marriage when in actuality it was most often a hell. I have been studying, practicing and engaging in psychotherapy these past two years since I left Mordechai. The more I have learned the more clear it is that Mordechai is a dangerous sexual predator and sociopath. He hurt me in deplorable ways and I fear that he will continue to hurt others if he is not stopped. Indeed, I have already heard first-hand harrowing accounts of his abuse and manipulation of women (many of them friends of mine). In many ways, my story is mild in comparison to theirs. Hearing these tragic stories was the central motivator for my sharing my own. I pray that my speaking out now can help to thwart any and all future abuse at his hands.

1. Information about Sexual Abuse/Molestation of a Minor: Before we got married, Mordechai shared with me that he had indeed had a sexual encounter with a minor. Her name was Judy – a teenager who was in his JYPSY youth movement. He explained to me details of their encounter and how he went about covering it up and discrediting her. He told me that she had seduced him. He said that they did not have intercourse, but that they had at least been undressed, sexually physical and that he had ejaculated. After Judy reported this, he lied to everyone involved, saying that she was emotionally unstable, jealous and had made it all up. He even received a document signed by a Rabbi attesting to his innocence. Judy was under-age, a student of his, and were it not for the statute of limitations, he could go to jail over this.

2. Mordechai also told me stories about various teachers and staff people connected withYeshiva University with whom he had struggles. He told me how he blackmailed a teacher (one of his “enemies” at YU) who tried to block him from studying/teaching there after the Judy incident. He had information about this particular man and threatened to share it if the man continued to try to block him. The man stayed quiet.

3. Adultery/Lying: He also told me of several affairs that he had in Boca Raton while married to his second wife. These affairs were with women in his Congregation (the name of one woman was Fern Weisman). At least one of them was a married woman (whose name I don’t recall, though I can find it). There was a scandal at the synagogue over rumors about his sexual misconduct. I do not think that his second wife ever found out about these affairs. They eventually left Boca to move to Israel. I believe that the main reason for this was that he needed to flee before people found out the truth (though he never framed it that way to me).

4. Adultery/Lying: One of the reasons (among many) that I divorced Mordechai was because he had an affair while we were studying in Oxford. It was with a woman named Stutti at Wolfson College. He lied to me on a virtually daily basis to cover up this affair. This went on for approximately 10 months (from December 2002-Sept 2003). It was an agonizing time for me even though I did not consciously know what was happening. I finally convinced him to tell me the truth about the affair when we left Oxford and moved back to Israel. I was devastated, and realized that all of my hopes that he was a “changed man” were baseless fantasies.

5. Adultery/Lying: I also was racked with suspicion that he was having another affair – with his “teaching partner”, Erica Fox. On countless occasions I begged him to stop teaching with her and to pull back from their “friendship”. He refused. Also on countless occasions I point blank asked him if they were having an affair. In response, he consistently told me how crazy, jealous and insecure I was. I have finally found out that they were indeed intimate with each other while we were married, as well as after. (All of this went on between 2002 until our divorce in August of 2004). I also have heard that he had affairs with two other women while we were together – one a young woman in Israel and the other in America. Since that I time I have found out that he has been having numerous sexual relationships with a variety of women – employees, students and funders (many more than have been reported in the press). At least one of these women is married to another man.

6. Debasing/Sexuality: Mordechai was consistently verbally demeaning to me, particularly in our sexual interactions. Additionally, he viewed pornography on a regular basis; paying money to have memberships to certain sites. Eventually his computer and email were so full of pornography that he paid tens of hundreds of dollars to get it cleaned, for fear that someone may see it and that he would lose his job. I understand from formal depositions made with lawyers and the police in Israel that he had much more “extreme” sexual interactions with other women after our divorce; which involved S&M and also played heavily on themes of debasement.

7. Stealing Intellectual Property: Mordechai used other people’s stories/teaching (making slight changes) without attributing them properly. (The story in Soulprints about Eitan giving him a soulprint box was, for instance, based upon a story in one of Robert Fulghum’s books.) Furthermore, I worked full time on both books “Soul Prints” and “The Mystery of Love”. There are entire sections of these books which I myself wrote – with no public recognition given as to the depth and breadth of my contribution. Just a few of the numerous examples of this are the poem/invocation at the beginning of “Soul Prints”, as well as the Parable of the Royal Wine in “The Mystery of Love”. I insisted that I wanted at least these pieces to be attributed to me. He refused. Seeing I had no real choice, I gave in in the end and allowed the pieces to be used without attribution.

8. Verbal Abuse & Emotional Manipulation: This is one of the main issues for me about the danger that Mordechai poses to others. Emotional abuse and manipulation was a constant throughout our marriage. I have pages and pages of journal entries describing entire scenes and dialogues full of emotional abuse. His yelling explosions, full of demeaning putdowns and blame, were virtually a daily occurrence. I eventually stopped fighting back and would just dissolve in tears after each explosion. He needed to always be right, always in control. If I didn’t agree with him on something then he would burst into a rage and tell me how stupid I was. – But more than that, he would tell me how unloving, insensitive and selfish I was. Convincing me that I was the evil, selfish, unloving one was one of his most powerful tools of manipulation. He capitalized on my natural desire to be loving and giving. My goodness was a knife in his hands with which he carved his sick designs into me. I was utterly bewildered by his manipulations; the way he would turn everything around and make me the bad one. These turn arounds rendered me powerless time and again. In fact, I was so distraught by the nature of his putdowns and manipulations that I had regular fantasies of doing violent and suicidal acts against myself. My most recurrent fantasy during his abusive tirades was of slashing my throat. I was not “allowed” to express or feel anger towards him and so I turned all of my anger at him back upon myself. I had never in my life been suicidal before this time and since I left him I have not had suicidal or violent thoughts at all.

9. Verbal Abuse/Manipulation of Others: I witnessed Mordechai being verbally abusive and manipulative with many other people. I saw it happen most with Dafna, his main staff person, but also – tragically – also saw it with his sons. I found his neglectful and insensitive treatment of his sons to be deplorable. Seeing him with his sons was another big factor in my wanting a divorce. The thought of him mistreating any future children that we would have was just terrifying to me.

10. Lies: As I mentioned above, Mordechai lied about our divorce, his past and other essential issues to the numerous Rabbis who supported him when he was being attacked in the press and at various teaching institutions. The Rabbis he lied pointblank to include R’Danny Landes, R’Joseph Telushkin, R’Art Green, R’Eli Herscher and R’Saul Berman, as well as others. He likewise lied to the press and the entire Bayit Chadash community and Board. Of course, Mordechai was lying to me on a daily basis about the affairs he was having.

11. Exaggerations – Beyond the examples above I witnessed Mordechai lying routinely in most every type of setting. Whether it was in a speech, at dinner with friends, teaching, or in talking to donors. He was consistently aggrandizing himself by exaggerating his successes, popularity, power and connections. He would get furious with me when I myself did not join in on telling these inflated stories about him; saying that I was selfish and unloving for not also telling these tales. Time and again he falsely claimed to be a spiritual/holy person. During his writings and teachings he would claim to pray, meditate, exercise, eat healthy, etc. None of which he did in the least. He led entire meditation retreats without ever having meditated himself. In my opinion, all of his frequent claims to spiritual enlightenment were (and are still) dangerously misleading fabrications.

12. Dishonest Financial Dealings: Mordechai also lied to me (and others) about financial matters. For instance, I have recently been informed that he hid approximately $37K in the Bayit Chadash accounts so that it would not be factored in to our divorce settlement. I understand that he is trying to retrieve and further hide that money so that I can not access it. Who knows what other money he had hidden away so that it would not be factored in. He also hid money from his 2nd wife so that he would not have to give it for child support. She took him to Israeli court over his dishonest financial dealings with her (with their divorce settlement as well as with child support). She won the case. He fought hard against this case being leaked to the Israeli press. Additionally, before I met Mordechai he was fired from Milah for inappropriate financial dealings (although I do not know the details). Whatever the case, he clearly has a spotted history around financial matters.

13. Psychological Sickness – I think it is crucial to share that based on all that I have known of Mordechai I see that he clearly has 2 psychological disorders which are evident and expressed in numerous ways. The most obvious is a narcissistic personality disorder. He exhibited the following characteristics which correlate with the DMS-IV diagnosis of narcissism. In the DMS, at least 5 of the following attributes are requires for diagnosis. Mordechai exhibits them all. I could give numerous examples in each category, but will refrain for lack of space and because they are just so very obvious to anyone who knows Mordechai.):

a. has a grandiose sense of self-importance – exaggerates achievements and talents.
b. Is preoccupied with fantasies of unlimited success, power and brilliance.
c. Believes that he is “special” and unique and can only associate with other special or high-status people or institutions.
d. Requires excessive admiration
e. Has a sense of entitlement – expecting especially favorable treatment or compliance with his expectations
f. Is interpersonally exploitative; taking advantage of others to achieve his or her own ends
g. Is envious of others or believes that others are envious of him
h. Lacks empathy; is unwilling to recognize or identify with the feelings and needs of others
i. Shows arrogant, haughty behaviors or attitudes

As for the antisocial (or sociopathic) personality disorder. He exhibits the following of the criteria for the DSM (of which 3 are needed for diagnosis):

a. failure to conform to social norms with respect to lawful behaviors (such as his sexual harassment in the workplace and sleeping with students and employees)
b. deceitfulness, repeated lying
c. irritability and aggressiveness (as is known by anyone who has ever worked under Mordechai, or crossed his path politically)
d. reckless disregard for safety of self or others (such as endangering himself by juggling numerous affairs at once, given his history)
e. lack of remorse; indicated by rationalizing having hurt, or mistreated others

Unfortunately, with Axis II Personality Disorders the chances for change via treatment are extremely slim; as opposed to Axis I disorders which are considered more treatable. Mental Retardation, for example, is also on Axis II, because no amount of therapy will be able to fully ‘treat’ retardation. The same is understood for Personality Disorders – they are not entirely treatable. Thus, in my opinion, the belief that Mordechai will one day be able to return to being a teacher/leader of any sort is a dangerous one. I personally (and professionally) do not think that he should be “allowed” to return to any such roles at any point in the future. A tragic loss, perhaps, but in the end we as a culture and as a people need to reassess the traits that we value and pull forth from our leaders. May this whole fiasco pave the way for new standards of humility, sincerity and a genuine care for others.


Polly: A Life
Caveat: There is no blame or guilt here. This is not about feeling sorry for ourselves. It’s about an honest confrontation with that Holy Neshama we called “Polly.”
Today, Polly’s first Yartzeit, is Erev Shabbat and Erev Rosh Chodesh Elul. The Parsha is “Re’ay”. Sefer Devarim is three months of Moshe Rabbeinu reminding us of everything that came before, everything we’ve seen and all HaShem has taught us. It’s almost like the first time. Why? We weren’t there? We didn’t hear the teachings? We didn’t see all that occurred?
All too often, indeed for most of the time, we don’t hear and we don’t see and we do need to be told. So, the attribute of seeing is coming into the world this Shabbat and it is travelling through the attribute of Elul. What is Elul? “Ani L’Dodi, v’Dodi Li” and “Hamelech b’Sadeh;” HaShem is coming to us as a Lover, the first says and the second says that we don’t have to work to ‘see’ HaShem’ as the rest of the year. HaShem is coming to us for us to see. An elucidation says that when reciting the “Shma” we should be focused on the Cheshbon HaNefesh we need to do. But we shouldn’t delve too deeply because it is a precarious job. We could fall into despair or depression when being so focused on our failings. But Elul is safe because of the closer Magen HaShem sends down to us. In Elul we are able to see what otherwise is too painful and perplexing because of this Divine, protective force field.
So, what do we know? What questions did we ask ourselves about Polly, as kids growing up? What did we notice? I can only answer for myself. I was the unappointed guardian of Polly at school. It was clear that she was different and in a place she didn’t belong. Except that she did. We try to look at the unasked questions, trying to utilize age and maturity and the wisdom time on this planet has afforded us, to try and understand what we couldn’t then. We use what we have and what we have acquired and it is all filtered through our personal systems of interest. What we have studied and the way we look at life in general give shape and color to our evaluations.
Asking questions that cannot be answered in the clear absolute is an encounter with the esoteric. The word comes from the Greek, meaning “within.” It’s strange but true: To see beyond the limitations of the physical, we need to look inside. “Shma Yisrael, HaShem Elokeynu HaShem Echad.” There is a teaching that says that “Shma” is Rashei Teivot for “Se’u YiDeichem Marom” – Lift Your Eyes to the Beyond on High.” It means that one has to look to the beyond to see deep within, the significance and meaning of what we hear.
When we were sent to school, we were sent, consciously or otherwise, to be socialized, amenable to being controlled, memorize facts and information, be able to pass tests and accept the permissible reality as if it was the only one. Yeshiva Dov Revel was populated by a collection of supremely intelligent kids who excelled at the critical survival contest known as competition. As we were not taught the important things: how to love, how to be, how to find the purpose of our particular creation, how to be compassionate, wise, generous and understanding., we cut each other down mercilessly. After the war, when people such as Abba were tasked to recreate the Jewish People, there was no thought about these things. They were so far removed, they weren’t even thought of. It happened to me. And it happened to Polly. And she had fewer survival and competitive skills then I did.
And so I had the same questions about Polly and the same lack of wisdom and understanding. But as I was her protector in school and her substitute friend to take her to the movies and the ball games, to concerts and to travel, I was forced to confront these questions all the time, if for no other reason than because I couldn’t say no. And as Sharon and Deena grew up and left home, it fell even more upon me to be her companion during those years, so I question. And I investigated. I haven’t stopped. Here’s what I’ve come up with.
In an earlier paragraph that Polly was supposed to be in Dov Revel. How can I say that? Because she was there. She had no Bechirat Chafshi not be there. We are all where we’re supposed to be. Whether we like that place or not. For we have two essential jobs in this lifetime: Complete our personal Go’ral and Tikun and contextualize our lives and struggles and work within the larger Tikun Olam b’Malchut Sha’kai. The places we find ourselves as well as their circumstances, are the playing fields of our lives. One field might have better groundskeepers so the balls sent our way bounce true and are easy to field and dispose of. Others have fields with lumps and bumps and a ball coming straight to us hits one and bounces out of comfortable reach. It can hit us in the head or it can bounce awkwardly out of our hands. It’s part of the game.
Whatever Polly’s personal Tikun, she was meant to be there. For her, they were almost all rocky fields. How she survived AT ALL boggles how she survived AT ALL boggles my mind. How did she accomplish ANYTHING? How did she endure it all?
I noticed three things about Polly. 1- She simply could not negotiate the emotions engendered as the result of the way she was and there were no seemingly rational words that could alter this. 2- She was brilliant, flowing with astonishingly prescient observations. 3- She had a profound sense of humor. In her devotion to MASH, I understood that she appreciated the higher, more important moral ground that Hawkeye stood on as compared to Frank. She appreciated the absurdity of systems, policy and expressions of power that emerge in Mankind’s folly.
Later, before her job at Squadron, I listened daily to her cries and felt her tears, just for wanting a chance. She wanted a chance to talk to a customer, make the plane reservations and write the ticket. Forget the reasons why she couldn’t. She just wanted a chance and we human beings didn’t know how to hear her, to see beyond, deep into her words and therefore how to respond.
I thank Abba for arranging the job with Howard. And if Howard has any place in Olam Ha’ba’a, it is not because of his meetings with Carter and Arafat and certainly not for enabling Murdoch. But for Polly. All that he worked for is dust in the wind. No one remembers him. AJC is less than history. The firm has no one to even care to remember it. He himself remains unknown today. But he did for Polly. It is enough for this that he was Created.
In Polly’s ambition for a chance, is revealed so much. She was aware of her ‘difference’. Maybe she only understood that she was different. If she asked herself, ‘why’ I have no knowledge. If she would have been content to stay home and watch TV, she would probably have been compassionately allowed. But she didn’t want that. She wanted to be useful and have purpose, both for her as well as to be an active partner in the going’s on the family, her city and her world. It shows that observed her life and thought about it.
It is the human condition to think animals are less, lacking in the capacity to understand us. “Come Fido! Dumb dog.” But it us who are less, because we don’t understand them. We don’t want to think of ourselves as less than a dog. So we decide they’re the dumb ones. We do it to people. We did it to Polly. But we were less for not only not understanding her, but for the limited ways we might have tried. And the truth is, we didn’t try so hard. We put her into a convenient box that collapsed when she passed and left us with all these thoughts and questions.
So where is there any comfort? Where is the Menucha? Where is the Chochma, Bina and Da’at that makes hard, painful reality, liveable?
The answers to these questions lie in her final journey; the cancer, how she responded to it and her passing. While hell for us, how could she be, finally, so joyous? How did she never complain of pain or the unfairness of this final affliction upon a lifetime of afflictions? How was she so at peace?
She knew. Somewhere, somehow, the real Esther Pai’ah, the eternal Esther Pai’ah, the always and forever Esther Pai’ah, came alive. She somehow, someway knew from whence she came and where to she was going. Why was Polly ‘frum?’ What did she care about God, or religion or Yiddishkeit? Did she ever talk about them? Did she ever challenge HaShem? Did we ever hear cry, “Woe is me! Ayecha?”
Because she knew. In the way she was different from us, she knew what we didn’t. She didn’t question HaShem nor challenge HaShem. But she questioned us and she challenged us. Abba has said it well in regards to the Shoah: “Where was God? The answer to that is, “Where was man.” This was Polly’s question.
Knowing the days of suffering were coming to an end, she was relieved. She was never too connected to her body. Like her inner makeup, her body was also ‘out of reality.’ When the time came, she was able to spiritually disconnect from identifying with her body. Having let go of worrying about her place in this world, knowing that she was soon to be freed of her unforgiving body, she could move into that ‘Polly’ we couldn’t know and understand. We all have an inner reality and inner voice. And these are different one from the other. So to for Polly. She could go to places we don’t even know exists. Here she could find safety and comfort.
As she entered further the passageway to the Eternal, she exhibited greater love, care and compassion for the rest of us. It was as if she already had left her body and was showering protective, Shechina-like, compassion, from on High.

And this is my Menucha. At the end, she understood her Tikun and her Goral, accepted that she accomplished it, that she truly did her best and was now free from her life sentence. And so, finally, at the end, she was no longer thinking of herself first. She was thinking of those she loved so much. AND SHE DID LOVE US, ONE AND ALL!
And how she loved! How she loved her nieces and nephews. The pleasure she got from them! There are no words. How she loved Sharon’s grandchildren. There are no words.
But in the end, that’s what left. Not her pain and suffering. Not the hurts and the rejections. And not the traumas. Just the love. The love she had for us, for her family.
Finally, as I write these last words, the tears finally come. I say farewell, Esther Pai’ah. I say, may your Neshama soar without end. I say, may I always and only see your rapturous laughter with its intelligence and wisdom and understanding. May I always feel and know your love. I know you already forgave any of my trespasses against you. Please look in from time to time upon your family here and be a force sweet goodness, compassion and grace, in these Acharit HaYamim.
I know it to be true, so I’ll end simply with, see you again real soon, B’Ezrat HaShem.

Shabbat Shalom and Chodesh Tov.

There’s the “Tao of Pooh” and then there’s the “Torah of the Dead.”

Tonight, 7:00PM Jerusalem time, 12:00noon, East Coast time, 9:00AM West Coast time,

Reb Moish Geller will cap off the Nine Days of Jerry, enlightening us with a Show about Jerry Garcia as Avatar, as Rebbe, as spiritual vessel. The Show will utilize Scarlet>Fire as the paradigmatic metaphor for the essense of the spiritual journey.

Tune into http://www.radiofreenachlaot.com and catch all the action. If you can’t catch it live, you can access it through the web site archives. See you at Show. May the Jerry be with you!

Hesped of Polly Geller
Sharon Geller-Metal

My sister Polly was the bravest person I’ve ever known. She was born into a world not ready for her and spent all her life trying to figure out her place in it.

Blue eyed and honey blonde, Polly was an adorable little girl. In every family picture, she looks out, pigtailed and smiling. It was a while before she realized that the world was moving a little bit faster than she was and from then on, she struggled, both inwardly and outwardly, to hang on.

Polly never shrank from a challenge, never said “I can’t do that.” She always tried and tried her best and then tried some more. If she were entrusted with a job, she would keep at it no matter what the obstacles. Very proud and protective of her place in the law firm where she worked for 18 years, Polly almost never took a day off – she felt both irreplaceable and at risk. At the end of one morning commute to her job in Manhattan, Polly broke her ankle getting off a bus but made her way to the office anyway. She didn’t want to let her employers down.

The world seen through Polly’s eyes must have been a terrifying place but you would rarely see the sadness that I know dwelled inside her. My sister would always move aside if she saw you coming, not because she didn’t want to interact with you. She was just afraid of being in the way. I think Polly always felt that she was somehow in the way. She tried to make herself invisible because she thought that was what people wanted from her.

The best way to provide for Polly was to ask her what she wanted and do the opposite.

“Do you want more chicken?” “No thank you.” But she really did want a second helping.

“Would you like to go to a movie?” “No thanks.” But she really did want to go to a movie.

“What time should we pick you up to go to Arline & Denny’s Chanukah party?” “Don’t bother, I don’t want to go.”

But she really did want to go, to do something, to be with people, even if she didn’t have the same social skills that others did.

Polly had no vanity and therefore approached the world with honesty, naiveté and a forthright manner. Not caring how you appear to others is emboldening. After 9/11, Polly would approach any police officer or fire fighter on the street and thank them for their service. She did not always get the response she anticipated but it was the only way she knew to approach the world – straight on and hoping for respect in return.

Of course, my sister’s life wasn’t all sadness. In Polly’s world, certain things were important and gave her pleasure. Star Trek gave her pleasure. “Law & Order” and “MASH” were important. Doing needlepoint was a pleasure. Knowing the entire lineage of the kings and queens of England was important. After all, our grandfather was a Londoner and our great-grandfather started the first Yiddish daily in England. Polly’s very name was British. (But people who asked her if she wanted a cracker risked her wrath.)

Which brings me to the subject of humor. Polly did not suffer bad puns lightly. We grew up in a household full of a type of humor, which elicited much laughter from guests but merely groans from us. If you came up short in the humor department, Polly would assume that you got your wit from the Victor Geller humor academy and would dismiss you with a sad shake of her head.

While I’m not sure having Deena, Maury and me for siblings gave her pleasure, but being an aunt and a great-aunt definitely brought Polly both pride and joy. In her way, she was a loving aunt to Avigayil, Rami, Yehuda, Batsheva, Aliza, Akiva, Yael and Shlomo, never forgetting a card and a wish of “Hippo Birdie” at each birthday. When the next generation came along, she said “I was always a great aunt and now I’m a great great aunt.”

Her favorite relative though was always Izzy. When Polly was about nine years old and I was 15, we were stuck together for a shabbos in Bnei Brak with relatives we had never met. I’ve shut the memory of it out of my mind but it must have been some long shabbos because Polly did not speak to me for the next three years. Silence. Not a word. “Please ask my sister to pass the ketchup” silence. And then, one day, I brought Izzy home and instantly regained Polly’s grudging respect. She started to talk to me again and we began to rebuild our relationship.

Of course, the people to whom Polly showed the deepest love and loyalty were the members of the New York Yankees organization. Polly was an expert on the Yankees and their most devoted fan.

This was not an easy path to tread in our family. Before she was married, our mother had season’s tickets to seats behind the dugout at the Polo Grounds and our father, who grew up in the shadow of Yankee Stadium also was a proud NY Giant fan. When Willie Mays and the rest of the team betrayed New York City and moved to California, family loyalties reluctantly shifted to the hapless Mets. All except for Polly. Before there was ever a family photo on her walls, my sister hung a picture of Mickey Mantle. She wore a Yankees cap to work and carried her keys on a Yankee chain. And when she got sick, the Yankees sent her a blue teddy bear – whom she named Yoggi Beara. She kept him with her and held him tight during her last few months.

Throughout her illness, Polly was a brave patient. She did not complain when her vision was compromised or when her hearing diminished. She did everything that was asked for her because she wanted to recover. She never complained, not through surgeries, procedures, blood tests, chemo, radiation, medication. Polly placed her trust in Hashem and always assumed that, like the Yankees, she would make it to the post-season, that things would turn out well.

That’s how I knew that Polly’s illness had run its course. The last time I spoke with her was on Friday morning. I told her about Thursday’s exciting Yankee game. How they hit a record breaking three grand slam home runs and how they came from behind and won 22-7. My little sister said nothing. She didn’t cheer or belittle my surprise at their prowess. She didn’t react at all. If Polly no longer cared about the Yankees, I knew that she was ready to end her long battle with this world and move on to an easier one – one with a place for her.

Hesped of Polly Geller
Rami Metal

Speaking about Polly is hard. It is hard because her life was profoundly difficult, because the obstacles she encountered daily were never fully within her control and were never her fault, and because she died far too soon after being born too early. It is hard to think about Polly and not be sad- in many ways because sad is not what Polly did and not how she went about her life. If we were sad for her she was never sad for herself- at least not outwardly- and I think that it is that knowledge- that she has had to overcome more obstacles than we can imagine and yet remained, to the end, optimistic, proud, and completely lacking in self pity- that makes understanding her life and death so difficult for those she’s left behind.

Polly was at bottom a deeply courageous and a profoundly proud person and I don’t think that we can ever know what she thought about the world around her and cards that she was dealt. But we know for a fact that she loved us. We know that we were central to her life in a way that few people could be central to anyone’s life. We, her family, were Polly’s life, and while we may not have not always felt like we were able to give back in equal measure what she was gave to us, (I, for one, am certain that I was unable to do so), we did know that we were loved and that Polly did matter, to us, in a way that was at times a challenge, at times a rebuke, and at all times a fact, as strong and resolute as she was.

Polly took being an aunt very seriously. I think that she took nothing else as seriously as her duties as an aunt, save her love of the Yankees. She remembered all our birthdays and called us every year with a chirpy “hippo birdie”! She never forgot. Not our birthdays, not Jack’s, not Dan’s, not Rose’s, Ryan’s or Wolf’s. She gave us shalach manot every year. This year she had bags for Jack and Dan as well. She was determined to be as great of a great aunt as she was a great regular aunt. I’m sure that if we asked him to, Jack could write an essay in French as to how she was a great great aunt.

Avigayil remembers Polly taking her to Fantasia on Continental and I remember her taking me to see Clue on Austin Street. (I think that in the version we saw everyone had done it.) I don’t think that Polly thought that it was the best movie ever but that didn’t matter. Being with us is what mattered and being a good aunt was paramount. I don’t know when she understood that she would not be having children of her own but she knew and so her role as an aunt would have to make up for some other things that she was not going to have. And no one would ever be able to say that she couldn’t do that. That she couldn’t be a great Aunt. That she could control.

No one could tell her how to love and she was never impaired, limited or otherwise deficient in her abilities to do so. She was, if anything, more capable that others in this regard and we, as her nieces and nephews, became the object of that determination and the means by which she could do something right, do it well, and do it total.

And then she became a great-great aunt. And watching Jack and Daniel and Rose interact with Polly over the past few years has reminded me of how we used to act around her when we were kids. The way they said hello and goodbye to her, running to give her a kiss and a hug, the way Jack would ask her how she was feeling and if she was extent uninformed by the knowledge of her limitations, and the extent of her illness – has been a pleasure to watch.

This is how we used to be, how we understood Polly as children, before we knew more and had less time and lived further away and had found it harder to know what to say, and exactly how to be the nieces and nephews that she believed us to be. She, as an aunt, was a tough act to follow. Jack, Dan, Rose, Ryan and Wolf were another opportunity for Polly to be the aunt that she was so good at being and it is all of our losses that she was not able to be a great great aunt for a new generation.

Polly was in many ways, the family encyclopedia. She did not forget anything, ever. If there was a discussion about what happened when to whom and there were differences of opinions we usually learned to trust that it was Polly who was right. She did not forget. Especially if it involved family. She was right. It falls on Avi to be the family historian now, she seems to know everything about everyone in the family going back to when she was, I think, two years old but not in the same way as Polly and not of course with the same breadth.

I talked to Avigayil last night and we mainly cried and talked about Polly and how wonderful she was to us and how deeply sad this made us feel, sadder than we expected to be, and how profoundly grateful to her we are for what she tried to do in her life and for the effort that she put into what she did. We also have memories, Avigayil, Aliza and I, more than 30 years of memories of Polly, the most indelible of which came in our role as children – as nieces and nephews, of walking over to Saba and Savta’s on shabbos, of reading Peanuts cartoons and doing puzzles and reading Life magazine and being with Polly.

Avi told me that she remembers being in Polly’s room in Forest Hills surrounded by books about the royal family and playing Polly’s 45 of the Beatle’s Yellow Submarine over and over. I still have no idea if that is a good song or not (I am told from time to time that it is in fact an awful song) but it reminds us of Yellowstone Boulevard, of running around Saba and Savta’s house, of Polly, of candy drawers and long seders and afikoman hunts. Seder will not be the same without Polly. Shabbat at my parents will not be the same. The Yellow Submarine will not be the same.

Finally there is baseball. To talk about Polly without talking about her love of baseball and more specifically her love of the Yankees would be a terrible incompletion. Polly and the Yankees. Gehrig, Babe, Di Maggio, Polly.

I was watching the first of episode of Ken Burns’s Baseball the other night when the narrator explained that female baseball fans in the late 1800’s were known as cranklets. Polly was a cranklet. She might have been the biggest Yankees cranklet to ever wear a retro Mickey Mantle jersey. She loved Don Mattingly. She worshiped Mantle. She watched every game that wasn’t on shabbat or yontif. She had every Yankee yearbook from 1971 to 1986.

I consider being a Yankee fan to be a great gift in that I get to root for a local team that isn’t an embarrassment and Polly was one of the biggest reasons that I became a Yankee fan. A few years ago she gave me her baseball card collection. She had every card Topps made from 1977 to 1983, all in mint condition. She would go to the stadium with me or Saba or Abba and watch, while listening to the radio on her Walkman. I don’t think that anything made her happier than being at the stadium.

I also don’t think that anything made her more unhappy than having to listen to John Sterling on the radio. She did not suffer fools gladly and she believed that John Sterling was a fool, and a clown, and refused to listen to the games on the radio. Polly was a hard one to pin down at times but her hatred of John Sterling attested to her seriousness as a Yankee fan and as a general arbiter of good taste.

I grew up watching the Yankees when they were on Channel 11 and I honestly do not remember how many of those games I watched with Polly, listening to Phil Rizzuto and Bill White talk about Piniella and Guidry and Winfield and Mike Pagliarulo, but I feel like there were many, and that she was my cool aunt who had a Snoopy doll in a Yankee uniform who loved the same thing that I loved. I consider my being a Yankee fan as a shared thing, as something that belongs to me, to Polly, and also to Abba. It may not be the most profound thing in the world, but it’s mine, it was hers, and baseball never dies.

We will miss you Polly. We will make sure that you are remembered by us and known and understood by our children, even those yet to come. The extended Geller, Metal, Gorodezter, and Porath families were central to your world and we will make sure that you are a permanent part of ours.

This is my first post since January. Too much is happening to stay quiet. So here’s the first. There was an oped article in todays Jerusalem Post. Here’s the link: http://www.jpost.com/Opinion/Op-EdContributors/Article.aspx?id=233309<a href=

Here’s my response: Dear Mr. Tauber,

I started reading your oped piece in todays JPost and stopped when you wrote that Yerushalayim could fall again. I beg to differ as vociforously as I can. We are only in the Land through HaShem's promises to us. We can see it everyday in the diversity of Jews walking the streets of the Land. The prophesies of our return have come true. One of the promises was the promise of the four galuyot – four exiles: Egypt, Bavel (Babylon), Poras (Persia) and Rome. The Rome exile lasted until the gates opened for Jews to return to the Land beginning in the late 1800's. THERE WILL NOT BE A FIFTH EXILE!

We care for our security and well being more from a place of confidence that this truth brings – that no politician from anywhere, within or without – can bring us down, than from a quaking fear that anyone is more powerful than HaShem's promises.

Until this internalized, we will make it more difficult, but it won't be the catastrophe you envision. Indeed, America, Europe and China have so much more to fear, as they have no protection of promises from Heaven. Even more, their downfall is Divine decree to make room for the world that HaShem intended before Creation. We see it coming more true everyday.

The boldness and courage of Jews speaking this truth, in a gentle, confident manner is our greatest resource. Please consider this and re-examine your vision. If we were only subjects of politics and politicians, we would have been gone long ago. Please write to encourage and give faith and trust and confidence through your words and work, rather than convey unfounded fear based upon a seeming logic that defies our entire 4,000 year existence.

Shabbat Shalom,

Rabbi Moshe Pesach Geller


Good Morning Yerushalayim. Good morning Eretz Yisrael. Good morning world. Good morning HaShem. I stand on this day of the re-birth of Creation. I stand with the greatness of spirit and soul that resides in each and every human being. I stand with the awesomeness of humanity in our striving in world that is fully revealed, yet so hidden. I give thanks for every blessed nanosecond that allows me see, feel, know, touch and be touched. I bless us all to embrace ourselves and each other in our knowing and unknowing; in our hopes and dreams and prayers. Shabbat Shalom, World. Let it be.

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Hearing the Bas Kol

Now I want you to know, the whole story between Yosef and his brothers was mamesh from heaven because this was the beginning of us Jewish people going into exile.

I want to tell you something awesome… awesome is not the word.

Here the brothers want to kill Yosef. Let’s assume they were convinced they were right. So it says(Breishis 37:20) ‘let’s throw him in a pit’, and then it says ‘we will see what will happen to his dreams’. So the way it’s translated is that they said it cynically ‘yeah, let’s see what happens to his crazy dreams’.

But the Medrash says (Medrash Breishis Raba 84:14) that a Bas Kol, a voice from heaven said ‘Nireh Ma Yihiyu Chalomosav’, let’s see what happens to his dreams.

Then it says ‘Vayishma Reuven’ (Breishis 37:21), what did Reuven hear? He mamesh heard something and wanted to save Yosef. So the way it is simply learned is that Reuven heard and said ‘ahhh, I got to get him out of the pit’. You know what the Zohar Hakadosh says? The only person who heard this voice was Reuven. ‘Vayishma Reuven’. He heard a voice from heaven saying, we will see what will happen to his dreams. You think it’s the end? It’s the beginning.

He asks his brothers ‘did you hear something?’

They said ‘no’.

So he should say to himself ‘I must be dreaming, I’m crazy. I have to see my therapist, I hear voices’.

Where would Reuven be if he wouldn’t have listened to this voice and want to save Yosef?

I want you to know friends, the prophet Hosea, who is the master on tshuvah, Shuva Yisrael, was the great grandson of Reuven who did tshuvah. Mamesh, awesome.

You see what it is? This is so deep, and yet it sounds so simple. Every person has to realize what they need for the fixing of their own neshama. G-d is not a Yenta who is telling everybody everything about me. G-d is telling me what I have to know for the fixing of my neshama.

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