Susan Kennedy

On the Coattails of Other People’s Grief

Mourning my father by attending another man's funeral

The first of February 2018 was unseasonably warm. A crowd of people had gathered outside the Jerusalem Theatre where Haim Gouri’s coffin was lying in state. White plastic chairs set out in rows on the sun-bleached plaza were filling up quickly, leaving a few hundred guests standing on the sidelines. A handful of Filipino care-givers maneuvered wheelchairs down the rows, pressed bottles of water into their charges’ hands, fanned them with rolled up newspapers. The mood was upbeat and nostalgic, the sense of camaraderie palpable. No-one complained about the heat. The crowd on the plaza was the liberal Ashkenazi elite who had built the country, designed its institutions and fought its wars. They had come to pay homage to a national hero.

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