By Harvey Tobkes

I attended a dear friend’s funeral recently, so I guess I am in a sort of a strange mood lately, though I am not depressed in any way.

Funeral vehicle

The officiating rabbi was a guy they must have gotten from Hollywood casting. He was very tall and well built, with a George Hamilton deep suntan and was really handsome. He was decked out in heavenly white vestments and perched on his head was an unusual gold yarmulke. It was shaped like a pot used to boil eggs and ornately decorated with red braid. Only a movie costume designer could have created this guy’s image.

Everything was theatrical, including the finale. I expected blonde teen-age harpists in mini togas to be strumming Hava Nagila, but I guess they decided to leave that out. Probably cost an additional $2000 anyway.

But this part I liked! The Rabbi passed out sacred earth from Israel in commercial type small plastic bags. He gave me one, so I was able to read the inscription attesting that the contents were genuine, and not from Central Park, but the disclaimer was written in small Hebrew letters, so who knows? After a lengthy prayer, he suggested that the people holding the packets come forward and sprinkle the earth on the descending coffin as a last tribute of love.

Tombstone in a cemetery

A blue butterflyThen for a grand finale, you’re not going to believe this, he passed out specially made envelopes holding live butterflies, (no doubt purchased from Butterfly World) and on the rabbi’s command of “FLY” we simultaneously released them. What a sight! What an ending to a funeral! Spielberg could not have directed it any better.

A dark butterfly

If they ever decide to make a movie scene based on this funeral, I can just hear the dialogue in my head.

In the Hollywood Version, one mourner turns to her friend and whispers, “That was one of the most poignant and cherished moments of my life that will always remain in my heart. It was a message of hope, of new life and the knowledge of how precious life really is, all metamorphisized right before our very eyes!”

An orange butterfly

Steven Spielberg, eat your heart out!

About this entry