It was strange. On the one hand, we were all sad. This was a special woman and the world is a poorer place; on the other, it was a reunion. This synagogue is...special, I think. There are bonds that I'm not sure exist anywhere else, bonds that mean that even people who'd left years earlier still feel a tie to it. A lot of people came back just for this, people who'd known and loved her. And there's been a lot of emigration in the past year or so.
So the whole thing was bittersweet. There were five speeches - three from close friends of hers. Two were strictly from the heart, and one had to add a bit of Torah, but that was fine because that fit both my friend and the speaker. The fourth. *sigh*. She knew R. She *taught* R. And yet. Her speech barely mentioned her. We got a story about ghosts that was, well. Designed to make the many, many nonJews in the audience uncomfortable - R was a much beloved public school teacher and also just plain had lots of friends from all over. It was a tribute to her to have such a crowd. And then, the speaker claimed that what R. did with her life was as a...representative of the late Grand Rabbi of the Lubavitch movement "whether she knew it or not." No. It wasn't. R had plenty of respect for the Rebbe and his followers, and she certainly learned from them, but she did all her many, many good works in the service of HaShem and of humanity. There's no need to add an extra layer on this, and to do so doesn't seem right. If she were a Chasid, then it would make sense. But she isn't. And, further, to claim that all who do such work are doing the Rebbe's work is just wrong. It may well be work the Rebbe z"l would have approved of, but that's something else entirely.
Her speech cast a very sour note, but it was a short one, and the rest of the evening was sad but beautiful. And I got to cuddle Yissachar Shalom, one friend's baby, for awhile. That was very, very good.