Dear Rabbi, Due Too Soon

Rabbi Yisrael Dov Ber Odesser (1886-1994) founded a stream in the Bratslav Hasidism. Also known as "Saba Israel" (Grandpa Israel). Credit: Sheva Chaya Shaiman (
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

Sophia Katz


Last year, when our worlds inverted, and we were all thrust into an eerie and strange new reality, each of us was of course impacted by the tremendous loss in our own ways. The loss of so many normalities and natural joys, but obviously more than that—our friends and family members who were taken before what felt like their proper time. 

One night in late April, I remember receiving word that a renowned figure, Rabbi Groner (one of the Lubavitcher Rebbe’s devoted secretaries), passed away from COVID. I can’t explain exactly why his death penetrated me more deeply than others, except that it felt like darkness was growing around us, and our leaders were disappearing. This poem was an outpour of this moment. 

I hope it speaks to you, and I pray our words connect us in comfort and deliverance to our ultimate redemption.


Dear Rabbi, due too soon,

I heard you coughing, 
Gasping through our shared wall, 
In our Brooklyn cage 
That never knew a quiet word,
And nothing would help. 

It was a few months ago, 
When the sirens woke us before our alarms—in the grips of maddened cyclops. 
And you were gone, 
With a breath, 
Or one last stare, with the other leaders we once had.

I didn’t know you, but I felt your presence.
Or your title, and how that moved me into stable rhythm. 
That’s funny, it’s odd. I didn’t know you.

Sophia Katz graduated with her BA in psychology last spring, and she currently works at OHEL health homes, providing psychiatric support for adults with mental illnesses. At every free opportunity, Sophia loves playing guitar, reading and writing of course, and traversing the beautiful wilderness of Hashem’s natural world. Sophia is privileged to join the Lehrhaus community of writers with her very first publication.