Birth: May 8, 1913
Death: December 3, 2002 (age 89)
The following eulogy was given by Rabbi Lynn Greenhough at his funeral:
Jack Morris: Yitzhak ben Reuven, Friday, December 13, 2002
Jack Morris died early this morning in time to be laid to rest just before we light for Shabbos. His neshamah will journey with the extra light of those Shabbos candles to guide him, as we say goodbye.
Jack, as I knew him, was a man of great sweetness, a true gentleman, who loved his family beyond all else. He was a very pragmatic man; he made carefully considered decisions, and was not easily moved from his opinions. Those around him had no choice but to learn patience. But his life also taught dignity and a cheerful optimism – epitomised best perhaps, by his tuneful whistling as he moved through his day.
Jack’s life taught many lessons. He taught devotion – a sense of duty and responsibility that lent him firmness and occasional sharpness. Yet he was not one to force others –and prided himself on not interfering with the choice others around him made, even if he was made unhappy by their decision.
Jack loved the sunshine, he loved his years in South Africa. He was a man with a strong connection to the earth. Lesley has wonderful memories of hearing Jack whistling as he approached her house, coming over to work her garden. Even his line of work reflected his connection with the ground. He worked importing fruit. I can imagine him choosing with meticulous care, the fruits he would eventually sell. Linda talked about the connection between his love of children and his love of gardening – he was a man who could nurture both tomatoes and dahlias, both character and wit.
His need for meticulous attention to detail was also evident in his requirement for punctuality. Even as Jack lay in his bed at hospice he wore his watch – carefully timing his visitors arrivals. His was not the laxity of Jewish standard time.
Jack was ultimately a family man, a man surrounded by generations – his daughter Linda and her husband and his friend Bert, his granddaughter Lesley, her husband Brian, and his great-grandchildren Julia, Jordon, Nava and Eitan. His son Phil would visit regularly from San Diego and he was in touch with family scattered across Israel and South Africa.
He was truly a gentleman – an old world man, a man who took care of Lily in all matters, leaving her to have the time to be with her children. They met in London at a Jewish social club. As Lily put it “he liked to put his arm around the girls”. Eventually they married and spent many years together, travelling from England to the sunshine of South Africa and then finally here, to less sunny but still lovely Victoria.
During these last days in hospice Jack let himself be cared for in a manner to which he was unaccustomed. He was very frustrated by this – as he said to me, all he could was lie there. For a man of his usual sense of responsibility and need to accomplish, this was a very difficult state in which to find himself.
I was thinking about Jack’s frustration this morning as I repeated the words DayanHa Emet – the simple blessing we say when we hear of a death. Baruch Atah Adonai, Dayan haEmet – Blessed are You God, the True Judge. I have struggled with these words over the years, trying to plumb a meaning that resonated beyond the p’shat, the surface framework they provide.
It took Jack, in life and in death, to open a door to new meaning to this blessing.
Jack took pride in taking good care of his wife and children, providing for them in all manner of ways. And it was part of that responsibility to worry – it was worry that would ensure their safety and security. As a fellow worrier I could but empathise with his struggle against death. Jack was worried for his children – if he left who would worry about them? How would they manage?
I think part of the worry that we worriers carry is a sense of over-responsibility. What might we have done; what if? The other side of the worry coin is a sense of judgement – a judgement of others but more often a judgement of ourselves. The great blessing of Dayan haEmet is that in death even if not in life we release our souls back to the One who has Judged – the One who assumes the burden of our judgements, the one who lets us finally rest in His truth. We can, in the end, let go.
Bert described how Jack felt he could see his future – I think he could see his future in his lineage – through to his great-grandchildren. What a wonderful life, to live well – loved, content with simple joys, loved as husband, father and grandfather, a beloved Papa.
Jack’s Hebrew name reflects his bond with the generations of family that loved him into his death. Yitzhak ben Reuven. Yitzhak was the patriarch in the middle –the son of Avraham and the father of twin sons, the eldest of whom, Yakov, would father in turn, his eldest child Reuven. Yitzhak was the quiet one, yet the one who assured the continuation of line that became our people. Jack, like Yitzhak, also had a vision – a vision of family, a vision embedded in his very name. The father becomes the son, who becomes the father.
Jack Morris was, in the end, a simple man, devoted to planting his lineage firmly in the garden of Jewish life. May his rest in Gan Eden be filled with flowers, with laughing children and with sunshine.
Gravesite Details: Row A – Plot 2
פּ״נ (Here lies)
Name in Hebrew: Leah b. Dov Name in Hebrew Yitzchak b. Reuvin
Feb, 7, 1918 May 28, 1913
Nov.25, 2010 Dec.13,2002
In Loving Memory
ת נ צ ב ה
abbreviation for Biblical quote: “May his soul be bound up in the bond of eternal life.”
Lily Morris (1918-2010)