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Dvorah Goodman, sister

Dvorah’s Eulogy to Tani on Feb. 8, 2002

Tani, my little brother, my sweetest love, my baby boy.

Tani, we want you to know that we support the choice of your soul to continue on to the next world. We have full faith that this was the will of G-d. We don’t blame anyone. Although our pain and grief is so deep, we want you to be free to help from above. Tani, please go before the King of Kings and beg for all of Israel and all the nations that we should merit to see the full redemption of all worlds, to know and see that everything is just the will of G-d. Everything comes from him and everything is only for the good.

Tani, I want to support your soul and help you continue on. Go with the light, go with G-d. Please, G-d, our father, our king, take Netanel Yitzhak to the place that he’s meant to get to. Do it in the easiest way for him and for us.

Tani, I will love you forever, I will cry for you forever. Tani, don’t worry about us, and don’t feel pain. We’re crying and grieving but understand that your soul had to go be with G-d.
Tani, my love, I love you so much, my soul. You were always such a deep soul, such a great soul, asking questions, seeking G-d, and understanding the deepest things. You always understood me. Tani, we always were connected in our soul. Your body is leaving us today, but the connection with your soul will continue forever. Always remember: Amaram Hum, Maduram Hum. (I am immortal, I am blissful… the mantra in Hindi that they said as they meditated together.)

Tani, thank you so so much for coming to be with us for seventeen years. You brought us so much light, love, and faith. You always were a G-d child. And Tani, thank you even more for fighting so hard to stay with us, so we could separate from you, so we could sing to you and pray for you and cry for you until we learned to accept the decision of G-d.

Tani, thank you so much my love, my tzadik,{my righteous one} my king. You’re such a man. Now you are my angel. You’re my holy soul. Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I fear no evil, for you are with me. Open the gates of righteousness, I will come through them in my time.

G-d gave, G-d took, may G-d’s name be blessed forever and ever.

Zvi Yanai, principal of Hartman Secondary School

Eulogy for Tani of Tzvi Yanai, Principal of Hartman High School

Our Dear Tani,

Your mother, Maggie, said to me this week that every moment, every minute, every hour you were with us was a gift, a gift from God. And that is your name – “Netanel” (“God has given”), and your parents understood this 18 years ago (minus a bit). And indeed, I can tell you that this is how we all felt around you. It was a privilege to know you and enjoy the gift God bestowed on us.

I want to share a story that shows your merit and your virtue: A teacher who admired the way Tani was learning and excelling in his studies urged his pupils and told them, “Take a lesson from Tani, how he invests so much effort, studies for tests and that’s how he achieves so well.” A pupil responded to him, “Tani doesn’t study for tests.” He was surprised – “How can that be?” They explained, “Tani just teaches the material to the other pupils, encourages them and doesn’t let them give up, and that’s how he reviews the material even three or four times – that’s the reason for his success.”

In essence, Tani wanted to give, to help others and incidentally – he studied himself. Thus Tani was involved in everything that was going on: in studying, charity work, the team, in class, “Guys, let’s study, be serious.” That’s how he became Israel’s ambassador among American youngsters during the past few months. He always contributed and gave of his strength, the strength he drew from his amazing family, his parents and siblings.

Shabbat eve of Parashat Mishpatim contains a description of God’s revelation to the Jewish people: “And he took the book of the covenant and read it in the hearing of the people and they said, ‘All that the Lord has said we will do and we will obey’.” Rabbi Eliezer comments: “When the Jewish people had come forward without delay saying ‘We will do and we will obey’, a divine voice went forth and said to the people of Israel, ‘Who has revealed this secret to my children, which is used by my ministering angels?’ As it is written, ‘Bless the Lord… you mighty ones who do his bidding, obeying the voice of his words.'” (Psalms, 103). First – do, and then – listen.

There is a secret, a mystery of the ministering angels, which Israel understood – “we will do and we will obey.” Our Tani understood this. He decided to undertake this in his own private way, “we will do and we will obey,” just like the ministering angels. And since then we have seen him go out and do, grow and obey, performing acts of charity, worrying about friends and adults, conscientiously performing mitzvot, and yet he was thirsty for the study of Torah and internalized it.

Now he has joined the ministering angels and is learning, together with them, “Bless the Lord you angels of his, you mighty ones who do his bidding, obeying the voice of his words.”

“The Lord giveth, the Lord taketh away, blessed be the name of the Lord.”

Netanel, go in peace and rest in peace and serve as a righteous advocate for your family, your friends and all of Israel.

Yair Fink, friend

Eulogy for Tani of Yair Fink, life-long friend

In the Sefer Agada (Book of Legends), the story is told about Bruria, who was given a precious gift and was later asked to return it. She asked Rabbi Meir what to do. Rabbi Meir said, “Of course you must return the gift.” Bruria asked, “Even if the gift was your son?” Rabbi Meir said: “G-d gives, and G-d takes away. May the name of G-d be blessed.”

The amazing Goodman family. Jerry, Maggie, Dvorah, Micah, Yael and Avichai, I have never seen a family as strong as yours.

When I arrived at the hospital a few days ago to strengthen you, I was unable to do so, because you were so strong and you strengthened me.

“How I loved Your Torah, it is on my lips all day.” If there was someone in the world who fulfilled that sentence completely it is Tani, who had so much faith and so much love of G-d. To watch Tani pray was a spiritual experience unlike any other.

But allow me today, not to talk about Tani the righteous, but about Tani my friend, our friend. Tani who liked to fool around, Tani who never stopped smiling.

Now, while he is watching us from above, I am sure he is happy for two reasons. First, because he is in the place he loves most, close to G-d. The second reason is because he sees how many people have come here today to give strength to his beloved family.

Coming to see Tani on a Friday night was so much fun, all of us sitting together, singing and laughing, and Tani conducting the choir with his laugh and the biggest smile in the world. When Tani starts to laugh, it is almost impossible to stop him.

Now, our youth group will not be the same, nor will school, friends and Friday nights with the family. The smile has fallen from our faces.

But one thing I can promise here is that Tani’s body may have been taken from us but his laughter, his faith and his way of life – The Tani Way – I and all of our friends promise to continue.

Finally, I want to turn to G-d. On Tuesday, at the hospital, when we added the name Rafael to Tani’s name, Micah quoted the Ba’al Shem Tov and said we must take down the barriers and speak directly with G-d. After we did that (and You did not answer our prayers), I only request one more thing: You took the best; please watch over his smile. Watch over our Tani. And just as Tani loved to sing in Poland: “Even when I walk in the valley of death, I will not be afraid because You are beside me.”

Tani, I love you so much and miss you terribly – take care of yourself up there.

Yael Goodman, sister

Yaeli’s talk to Tani after his burial at the cemetery.

Tani, I don’t really know what to say when my baby brother goes.

How do you wake up in the morning? What do you think about when you walk down the street? This feeling spreads through your body and stops in the heart like a stone.

I always used to tell you that there are always two approaches, two ways to deal with things. You have a situation, and you can either look at it in a good way or a bad way. My family and I are going to try to look at this situation in a good way, just like the advice I used to give you.

We know that this is probably how it should be. What needs to happen, happens. And you will be the one who gives us strength and faith, now. That’s who you are to us. We will get over your absence because of your merit

Thank you for staying with us for five days. We had the privilege to say goodbye and to say the things that were never said. We got to see you and to feel you, to smell you and to touch you for one last time.

We’re going to drive you crazy up there. Be ready. We love you.

Avichai Goodman, brother

Avichai’ farewell to Tani, Feb. 8th, 2002. At the graveside.

Tani, my beloved brother, and my most beloved of all,
my little brother:

Tani, David (Hartman), Tzvi (Yanai), Dvorah, Micah, Yael and Ya-Ya (Yair Fink) have already said it all.

I just wanted to tell you that I love you- so much. I miss you so much. I miss our childhood, and when I return home from the army and get that big hug from you, and playing basketball with you in the rain on my short break from the army.

I will never forget you. And I know you are watching us from above, and guarding over us.

I will never forget you.

“Forever, my brother, I will always remember you…”

Rabbi David Hartman (unavailable)

Micah Goodman, brother

Our righteous, holy and amazing Tani!
To speak of Tani is almost like speaking of God: there are simply no words to describe him. I This week Tarn taught us all how to pray. During the last five days we didn’t cease to pray, but the answer to our prayers was a terrifying one.
Although we lost you, we feel that in some ways we found you; we got a better notion of who you really are.
We always used to say that daddy was righteous like the Ba’al Shem Tov. This week enabled us to see how righteous mommy is. Tani, being the youngest of us all, you have in you something from everyone of us. From Dvora you inherited your strong belief in God, a real “glue” connecting you with Him. From Yael you enherted your amazing smile, your rolling laugh, your silliness. From Avichai you got you pure soul, your angelic personality.
Everyone is amazed by the fact that we agreed to donate your organs.
We lost you – but you gave life to others. What people don’t understand is that your spirit will continue to live and to serve as an inspiration of morals, righteousness and simplicity to us all. The last time I spoke with Tani was last Sunday, he said he needed my advice. The issues Tani dealt with were deep and complex ones. On Sunday he wanted to talk to me about an experience he had had on Shabbat: he had participated in an egalitarian ‘Tfila’ (prayer service) and was then confronted by ultra-orthodox men. This caused him some confusion and he needed someone with whom he could formulate his thoughts on the matter.
We once spoke of how life is like a journey: you don’t really know where you’re path will lead you, the important thing is that you are “on the way”. In your 17 years of life you were always “on your way”. Tani was my best student and my best teacher: My best student for always accepting what I had to say, and my best teacher for never ceasing
to question me, seeking the deep and profound truth. Tani will no longer be my student, but he will forever be my teacher. Although Tani has physically left us, his spirit and soul will live on with us. We will not lose the joy and happiness that was so inherent in him; we will never lose “The Tani Way”.
Tani, my baby brother, I promise I will never forget you.
Goodbye my student, Goodbye my teacher!

David Freund: Sermon, Yehuda HaLevy Synagogue

The Torah portion of Mishpatim 5762 (one day after Tani Goodman was laid to eternal rest).

“The Torah of the Lord is perfect, restoring the soul…The statutes of the Lord are right, rejoicing the heart.”
We must believe and uphold each and every word in these verses, even when events seem oppressive and in times when the heart is very heavy and the soul is troubled. We must persevere in speaking words of Torah in our community, even when the weekly portion concerned is one in which the various commentators and the Midrash discuss the issue of “earlier” and “later” passages in the Torah, or as Rashi says on the first verse of Chapter XXIV of our portion: “This portion was spoken before the ten commandments,” and where, alongside the question of early and late in the Torah we confront the question of early and late in life.

It is out of a sense of flight “from You to You, Lord,” as Rabbi Yehudah Halevi phrases it, that these words of Torah are dedicated to the exultation of Tani’s soul. Tani, for whom the words of the Talmud in the tractate Sanhedrin are so appropriate: “Kings die and leave their crowns to their sons, rich men die and bequeath wealth to their sons, this one took all the splendor of the world and went away.”

“These are the laws that you shall set before them.” Rashi, following the Talmud in the tractate of Eruvin relates: “The Lord said unto Moses, do not even consider teaching them the chapter and the commandment two or three times until they know it by heart and I will not bother teaching them the reasons and explanations. Thus it was written, “you shall set” before them, like a table that is set out before one and ready for dining.” Our Sages closely examined the wording of our verse and commented that it does not say: “these are the laws that you shall command them,” rather, “you shall set before them,” thus indicating the need to reiterate, elucidate and clarify.

I would like to take the depth of the commentary provided by our Sages one step further and say that the expression, “set before them” also suggests the possibility of the concept of free will. The Torah, its laws and commandments have been placed before us by God. The assumption of this burden and of a life according to Torah values depend upon our free choice. The image contained in the words of our Sages of the “table set and ready for dining” also points to this interpretation. One may set a table and provide the choicest fare, but the actual eating depends on free human volition.

And indeed, an examination of several other places in the Torah, besides our portion, where the root word for “setting” is used, strengthens this hypothesis that the verse hints at the concept of free will. At Marah (Exodus, XV) it is said that “there did the Lord set them laws and commandments.” According to our Sages, this verse refers to the Ten Commandments that the People of Israel received before the Torah was given them, including seven commandments already assumed by the sons of Noah. In the portion dealing with Amalek (Exodus XVII), the Lord says unto Moses: “Write this in a book and set it in the ears of Joshua.” When the commandment to wage war on Amalek becomes the subject of an argument between Samuel and Saul, it is possible to extrapolate on the idea of free choice, but we will refrain from doing so at the moment, owing to the shortness of time.

Above all, in the song of Ha’azinu, it is said (Deuteronomy, XXXI): “You shall write this song and teach it to the Children of Israel, set it in their mouths, so that this song may eternally reside with the Children of Israel.” This refers to the melody, its preservation and its transfer from one generation to another. The ability to convey the depths of a song as part of a tradition, is without doubt a product of the spiritual quality of human life arising from the foundation of free choice. Free choice is rooted in the spirit of humanity, which lies at the very foundation of human ethical existence. This is the spirit that serves as a compass and beacon through all of life’s vicissitudes and enables not only survival, but also revival and renewal, the ability to transform crisis into destiny, into the substance of a mission – this is the spirit of life’s purpose.

Thus we can now say: The laws, commandments and teachings that Moses set before the Children of Israel at the Lord’s command, comprise the upper floor. The foundation, however, lies within the spirit of mankind and his free will. When the two storeys are merged, we achieve a framework in which we can begin to understand the full significance of the statement, “In God’s image was Mankind created.”

Our Sages have revealed to us that there are kinds of realities that are beyond the ken of human understanding. When we wish to approach this type of hidden reality, all we have to do is look at a known reality that is closest to the one we wish to approach. Thus, we learn that when kept as commanded, the Sabbath is the closest thing to the world to come, that dreams are akin to prophecy and that sleep is the known reality that is closest to death. Anyone who attended the funeral yesterday and observed a deeply anguished yet united family, a family that disseminates the light of faith; anyone who listened not only to the words of the eulogizers, but to the deeper meanings from which their words emanated; anyone who witnessed the vast assembly of people and felt the depth of their emotions and affinity with the family and its values; anyone who was deeply moved by the family’s singing of “Shalom Aleichem,” understood and internalized not only that “Mankind was created in God’s image,” and not only the noble example of free choice, but also became part of an experience that is the closest one can come to the actual reality of God. A reality that is completely removed from mundane elements, detached from the here and now – soaring on high to destinations that lie within the realms of eternity.