My uncle Jack Lunzer is being buried in London this afternoon.
He was 92, the 7th of my my mother’s siblings to die, leaving her, the 8th and last to hold the torch of a fabled family chapter.
Just a few months ago I visited him at home in London. I sang to him the psalm so dear to our family, said my goodbye, held his hand. Last week my mother was still able to have a conversation with him, and sang the same psalm.
Tonight we mark the date of our grandmother, his mother, Celine’ Lunzer’s death, 24 years ago.
In Jewish traditions sacred books that contain the sacred divine names are buried just like people are. Although no books or manuscripts will be buried along with uncle Jack today, a lifetime of loving, collecting and gifting the world with some of the most important Jewish manuscripts and books is also buried today – my uncle’s prized Valmadonna Trust Library, which was the largest privately owned collection of Jewish manuscripts and early books in the world – until its sale just a few years ago.
Just last year the latest collection from the library was published, and I posted about it, with this quote about the man who devoted his life to these treasures:
“The survival of any material from the distant past—especially the Jewish past—is in many ways the semi-miraculous result of contingency, accident, and happenstance. […] And so, we can feel nothing but gratitude to collectors, like Mr. Jack Lunzer of the Valmadonna Trust Library, who have sought out and preserved material from the past, artifacts that became treasures by virtue of their survival, however ephemeral or quotidian they were in their original forms.” (The Valmadonna Broadsides)
Our family mourns a beloved, colorful, larger than life patriarch today. The community in London and beyond mourns a generous lover of life and literacy. I mourn yet another chapter ending in my family’s book of life, so honored to have known and loved my uncle and so glad to know so many of his children, grand and great grand children are alive, well, doing good things in this vastly changing so in need of patient dedication to the life of values that the books and works of art my Uncle Jack collected were and are truly all about.
Uncle Jack, rest in peace. Thank you for inspiring me and so many others with the love for the best that our hallowed tradition has to offer a world so eager for more beauty, truth and sacred purpose. You will be missed by so many of us. Your memory is a vast blessing.