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110 years of joy

שמחה לאריכות ימים

* Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

"Shalom Sivan, We wrote you several months ago about our aunt, Heinke Gilad from Kibbutz Dafna, on her 110th birthday. We told you her secret to longevity, revealed when she was asked about it on the occasion of her 108th birthday: Love life, love people, and look at everything in a positive light. Anyone who knew her will testify that this was how she lived. She never argued with anyone and forever saw the world through the eyes of a curious little girl who marvels at everything.

Yesterday the eternal child was laid to rest and for us, during one brief moment, the world became a little less joyful.

At the funeral I said that, for me, Aunt Heinke was all about joyfulness and kindheartedess. Her life was not a bed of roses. She made aliyah as a Zionist pioneer from Europe, worked the land, raised a family, and always made herself essential -- in her work with the kibbutz children, as a cook in the kibbutz kitchen, and in the kibbutz shoe factory. She only retired at the age of 97! She knew poverty, wars, and sorrow but never for a moment became bitter. Her outstanding feature, her 'brand' in today's jargon, was perpetual optimism.

So in an era of instant gratification and Tik Tok, of over abundance and waste, of hopelessness and cynicism, we always knew we had a 110-year-old aunt on a kibbutz up north who reminded us of the blessing that exists in everything and the goodness that resides within us.

The oldest kibbutznikit in Israel passed into olam haba in the month of Adar, the month of joy. They say 'it's a great mitzvah to always be joyful.' It turns out that to always be joyful is not only a mitzvah, but a most rewarding, life-extending way to live as well."

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