The Light of Inspiration Cannot be Extinguished
“It’s strange to do something big when Maia is not a part of it, but she will always be a part of us.”
These are the words of Tal Priel, chevruta (study partner) and friend of the late Maia Dee from their time at Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod, at the completion of Shas Mishnayot (the six orders of the Mishna) in memory of Lucy, Maia and Rina z”l, organized by Ohr Torah Stone in honor of their shloshim.
The cafeteria at OTS’s Neveh Shmuel Yeshiva High School quickly filled as hundreds of friends and neighbors of Lucy, Maia, Rina and the entire family gathered to mark thirty days since their burial. They came to remember their loved ones and gain strength from the words, songs and Torah learning in their memories.
Siyum Shas Mishnayot to Elevate their Souls
Over the course of the month, dozens of Ohr Torah Stone students, alumni and faculty joined the project to honor the murdered women’s memories and elevate their souls.
“Along with so many others, we were hit hard by the news of the murders of the members of the Dee family,” noted Rabbi Dr. Kenneth Brander, President and Rosh HaYeshiva of Ohr Torah Stone, which initiated the study. “Leo, the father, was ordained as a rabbi through our rabbinical seminary, and several of the Dee children are graduates or students of our high schools and seminaries. In the days following the murder, we deeply felt the huge and tragic loss.
“At the same time, we felt a strong need and responsibility to spread the light of Torah that Lucy, Maia and Rina loved so much, in every possible way. We were moved as dozens of our students, graduates and members of Ohr Torah Stone’s educational and administrative staff got involved in the project. We hope and pray that this study in their memory will elevate their souls.”
“We must immortalize you by learning more Torah, doing more acts of kindness.”
The study project concluded as two of Maia’s classmates from Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod read the last verses of the mishna. “During our year at Midreshet Lindenbaum, Maia and I learned Gemara together as chevrutot every morning,” related Tal Priel in her remarks. “‘Friendship forever,’ we said. Tractate Oktzin, the last tractate in the Mishnah, deals a lot with connections. It asks the question – what is part and what is not, what is significant and what is less? Maia always took part and encouraged everyone else to, as well.
“Maia loved everything we did. She especially loved the Torah learning, and infected all of us with her enthusiasm. She would make time for more and more chevrutot, taking advantage of every minute. She so loved the feeling of being part of something big. Today I have mixed feelings,” shared Priel. “I’m excited, sad and mostly I miss you. It’s strange to do something big, when Maia is not part of it. But she is always a part. You will always remain a part of us.”
Rosh Midreshet Lindenbaum-Lod, Rabbi Dr. Udi Abramowitz, also spoke at the siyum. “Dear Maia, now at the end of the shloshim, the commemoration phase begins,” he said. “How difficult this stage is and how difficult this word is. It requires us to say goodbye, and we are not ready to say goodbye. But you taught us that difficulty and sadness are not a work plan. Even though you were not one of those girls for whom everything came easily, you never gave up. You insisted on studying until you understood. You believed that everyone can, must and deserves to study the Torah, and also Mishnah and Gemara, and so much more. You taught us how to overcome obstacles, so we too do not have permission to give up and despair.
“You gave us so much,” continued Abramowitz, “and we must immortalize you by learning more Torah, contributing more kindness to the world, and above all, by perseverance and faith in the goodness that you have bequeathed to us, and that no enemy will ever be able to steal from us.”