Joan Jordaan Benloulou
Birth: February 4, 1957 in South Africa
Death: August 3, 2000 (age 43) in Victoria, B. C.
Rabbi Lynn Greenhough officiated at the unveiling.
The following are her words with modifications from Patrick Benloulou:
Avigail bat Avraham v’Sarah
Funeral; August 4, 2000 2 Av
Service: Sunday, July 22, 2001
Yesterday we completed the reading of Bemidbar, the Book of Numbers. As we do at the end of each book we called out “Chazak, Chazak, Veneetchazake!” Be strong, be strong, And may we be strengthened. So too, as each book of our lives finishes, we need to say with each other, Chazak, chazak, veneetchazake.
It has been a year since Joan died. Throughout this year members of her family have made their own painful journey from grief to a renewed sense of order. Each person in their own way has needed to grieve, needed to forgive, and needed to move forward. In ways that are both monumental and intimate, even the very cycles of Torah teach us our need for each other’s strength through the passage of days.
There have been many tears this year. We waited until today for this unveiling, waiting for Kyra’s Bat Mitzvah, marking her journey into womanhood, a journey she completed with tremendous dignity and courage.
As we stand together today, the Oak leaves crunching underneath our feet, we feel the passages of this past year. Family members are moving closer to Patrick and Kyra and Zac, moving to Salt Spring and to Victoria. Their beloved Granny has moved to Victoria to be with the family.
Today we unveiled the metzevah, the headstone. The rabbis would often call the metzevah a nefesh. According to ancient Jewish belief the nefesh, the soul, hovers over the spot where the person is buried. To honour the soul and give it a specific area within which to dwell the grave is marked by a stone.
Most stones are marked with the Hebrew letters pay and nun at the top. These are the first two letters in the phrase po nikbar (nikbera) “here is buried” or po nitman (nitmena) here is hidden. Sometimes the letters pay and tet appear for the phrase po tamun (temuna) here is buried”
- In Torah, matzevot were erected to commemorate oaths that had been taken, and also to delineate boundaries. Jacob and his father-in-law Laban, erected such a pillar for both purposes; to witness their truce, and to mark the boundary between their land.
- Matzevot were also built to mark moments of great awe and triumph; for example, Jacob built a pillar of stones on the place where he wrestled with God’s messenger.
- Matzevot then, symbolize our commitment to the deceased, and our oath that she will be remembered.
- The fact that we do not place the stone immediately on the grave indicates our struggle to integrate and transform the loss. The stone thus becomes a memorial to our journey as well as to the one who died.
- Also as it did for Laban and Jacob, the stone creates a boundary between that struggle and the rest of our lives. It puts a border around our grief. At the unveiling we commit ourselves to the responsibility of being here, on this earth. We never, however, let go entirely of mourning the loss of someone we have loved dearly.
We also read the letters tav, nun, tzadi, bet and hay on the stone. These are the first letters of the Hebrew phrase tehi nishmata tzerura be-tzeror hachayim, meaning “may her soul be bound up in the bundle of life.” This signifies that not all life is over – that only life on this earth has come to an end. These words imply our belief in the world-to-come, in olam haba.
This stone also marks the source of much of Joans’ joy while she was here in this lifetime – her art. Her favourite flower, the Iris, is now carved in stone, once filled with vibrant colours is now rendered in the red of granite.
Joan was kind, sensitive, generous, intelligent and caring. Her memory lives in the hearts of her family, in the cherished paintings and pottery that are part of their home.
For all its finality death is not final. We all live in each other’s minds – sometimes in a manner more alive than in each other’s presence. So too will Joan continue to live. As God is always with us, as God’s promises to us live impressed upon our hearts so too does her memory continue.
Tehi nishmata tzerura be’tzeror hachayim. Amen.
British Columbia Death Registration No. 2000-09-015935
Gravesite Details: Row C – Plot 5
in loving memory of wife, mother and artist
Agatha du Toit Jordaan