My father, Gene Moshe Schramm, died on June 28, 2023 (9 Tammuz) at the age of 93.

He lived a good life. I’m almost at the end of the year of mourning. The process of mourning as an observant Jew has really given me a chance to work through stages of grief. Each stage gave me a different way to connect to my father and to grapple with his absence in the physical world. 

Most concretely, I chose to take on the custom of saying kaddish for my father. Adding something concrete and structured as part of my daily routine was grounding at the beginning of the year and now is reassuring as it comes to a close.

Then of course there are the stories that I tell about him. Some of them have been dormant for years. It’s funny how grief can jog the memory. Some of them aren’t really for public consumption. The one I am about to share isn’t something that naturally comes up in polite company. It shows however, my father’s commitment to safety and to halacha and his willingness to accept his daughter as a grown woman. These are memories that I cherish about him.

I had been married for a little bit over a year and came down with a case of mono. It was a debilitating case. I was exhausted. I struggled to take care of myself. I was living in Israel with my husband in a kollel and it was hard and I was homesick. When I was finally feeling better, I called my parents and asked if I could come home for a visit. They sent me a ticket and I went to Detroit for a mid-winter visit. 

I don’t remember much about the visit. It was cold. It was snowy. I probably ate some pizza. My parents gave me some TLC, overdue from my recent illness.

Towards the end of my visit I needed to go to mikveh. I made an appointment and went about my business that day. I ran some errands with my father and we got home as snow was falling and very close to my appointment time. I asked my father if I could have the keys to the car. He said no. A blizzard was expected and I hadn’t driven regularly in too long for it to be safe. I was dumbstruck. As my mind was racing about how to deal with the situation. Do I tell my father where I need to go? Do I walk? I tried one more time to convince him that I could drive the short distance and it would be fine. He looked at me and said no. After a moment he said, “I know where you’re going. I’ll drive you.” 


I didn’t have a choice. My father was pretty accommodating except for when he made up his mind and he wasn’t. Driving in inclement weather was definitely on the list of no compromise. (Aside: he got his first ticket in his late ’80s for driving too slow on a road. Road safety was of paramount importance).

So I acquiesced and let my father drive me to the mikveh. He waited in the shul parking lot next door for the duration of my appointment. I went in, I dunked, and he drove me home. 

At some point that night I made a quip that he was lucky that I was taking this treatment so easily. He was genuinely mystified by that comment. He enabled me to do what I needed to do and didn’t think that it was a big deal. Of course it was a big deal but I knew that he wouldn’t understand why. To him it was obvious, he wanted me to be safe, he wanted me to be able to keep halacha, and it was as simple as that. 

For my part, I was glad that my husband was back in Israel at home and our reunion would be a few days hence. 

Dedicated to the memory of יוחנן משה בן מאיר ורבקה