A Blessing for Helen Jacobson at 100

Pronounced on April 4, 2008, by Rabbi Barry H. D. Block


A Midrash:
The Rabbis ask: Why does the Torah say that Sarah lived a hundred years, and twenty years, and seven years? Why not simply state that she lived 127 years? Because at 100 she was as free of sin as she had been at 20. Because at 20 she was as beautiful as she had been at the age of 7.

A Midrash for tonight:
Helen Jacobson has lived 100 years.
And we say,
in the words of our Tradition,
ad meah v’esrim,
may she endure,
in good health,
to the age of 120.
In any seven years of her life,
Helen accomplished more than anybody else could in a century.
At twenty,
She possessed the wisdom of a centenarian.

Tonight,
We mark 100 years
Of Helen Jacobson’s life.
We count not only days,
But friends,
Numbering not in the hundreds,
Or even the thousands,
But in the myriads of myriads.
Let us contemplate the tens of thousands
who have felt loved by a simple phone call,
Every birthday, each anniversary,
Any time that Helen has heard that we may be ill,
Or with any kind of need.
Let us imagine the countless hands
Helen has held,
At the hospital,
At a time of loss.
We cannot number
The occasions on which she has raised a glass
With us
In celebration.
Millions are
The men, women and children,
The poor, the ill, the unloved,
People who have never met Helen,
But whose lives have been made better,
By Helen’s acts of Tikkun Olam,
Making our city,
Making our nation,
Making this world
A better place.

We would count the love,
But love cannot be numbered,
The marital bond Helen shared with David,
With our Rabbi,
Across more than six decades.
The love of a mother for her children,
For Liz and for Dottie,
And for Sam, too,
For a lifetime.
The love of a grandmother,
For Ethan, for Stephanie and for Seth,
And now for Igor and Sarah as well,
An inspiration for generations to come.

We come together tonight,
A grateful congregation of the Lord,
So thankful for the gifts of 100 years.
Bless Helen,
O God,
As she has blessed us.
Grant her health;
Grant her joy;
Grant her peace.
May the blessings we offer for her tonight
Be hers ad meah v’esrim
To the age of 120 and beyond.

Baruch Atah Adonai, Eloheinu Melech ha-olam, sh’hehianu v’kimanu, v’higianu lazeman hazeh.
Blessed are You, Adonai, our God, Ruler of the Universe, for you have kept Helen and all of us in life, fortifying her and sustaining us, to reach this glorious celebration of a century.
Amen.