Father's Day: Gratitude and Remembrance

My parents, Sandor (zt”l) and Margit Kirsche

This coming Sunday, June 21, is the traditionally celebrated Father’s Day.

My mom likes to say that I was “always a daddy’s girl”, and this seems true to me also. I remember each time my father held my small hand in his very large, strong hand, and each time I slipped my arm through his, or watched him pat a child’s cheek tenderly. He effused a warmth, love of people and a unique charm that drew people to him wherever he was: in his store, Hungarian Kosher Foods, at a family event, speaking in a school, in Chicago, Israel or wherever his journeys took him.

As I walk through the aisles of the Father’s Day cards and reflect on my father, Sandor Kirsche,zt”l (known with affection as Mr. Kirsche by his loyal customers), I am so grateful for having known the love of a remarkable father.

I realize that he taught me many very good lessons, not by lecturing but by example: how he lived his life.

He was defined not only by warmth, but also by inner strength. Despite the Holocaust and the losses he endured, he never saw himself as a victim. I learned that in life there are situations we find ourselves in, sometimes beyond our control, but my father’s character taught me that one always has a choice in how to react to the situations. In his life he faced challenges with strength, and survived them with a remarkable optimism in the future, and a deep gratitude to God for all that he had. He was one of the most unobtrusively charitable people I have ever known. As my mom says, he “was happy to give the shirt off his back to everyone.” And he often used the store to help people in need, but he did this in the most discreet manner.

My father was a confidante to so many people, and among many lessons he taught me was to keep a confidence strictly. He also taught me to stand up for what you believe in, to be honest in your dealings with others, in business as well as in family and friendly relationships. For in the end, all you have is your good name, and my father kept his good name throughout his life.

He believed that you must always move forward, yet he always remembered the past, and was not afraid to remember the pain, along with the joy.

He was a great storyteller who could weave painful and happy, funny memories together, transporting me back into the world of his childhood. His love and care of family was unparalleled, and he and my mom cared for everyone in the family. There was no greater joy than to share a special occasion with family, and my father never missed a “simcha,” a happy milestone.

Above all, my father taught me to love life, and to choose life, as is written in the Torah, “U’bacharta Bachaim” (and you should choose life). His smile was infectious. His warmth was contagious. Although I miss him every single day since he passed away, I am also grateful to him every single day, especially on Father’s Day.