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Memorial to Marla Bennett and Ben Blutstein

Marla Ann Bennett (1978- 2002.5738-5762)

מרים חנה בת משה ויפה
By: Rabbi Daniel Landes

It  is a challenge to attempt to evoke such a person, full of life. I usually dream and daydream in black and white,  but when I remember Marla, my waking dream is full of color.

I remember a conversation we had. It began at the upstairs door at Pardes. I was leaving and as it happened sometimes, Marla called me back with, "Just a short question, Rabbi Landes."  She pointed to a Tanach, at Eichah (Lamentations), Chapter 2, where it says, "God was like an enemy devouring Israel. . ." The problem was, how could the prophet point a finger at HaShem and say something so terrible

An hour later, sitting in the Beit Midrash, we concluded that the Bible and the rabbis are as tough on God as they are on man.  But
still, I felt that Marla and I were still not on the same page. Finally I said, "Marla, I think that on some level you and I are are not on the same page because you don't know what an 'enemy' is. You don't have any, and you never have been anybody's!"

Still later, she said to me, "It states that God is LIKE an enemy. The difference is that our enemy takes satisfaction in devouring us,
but God probably gets indigestion!"

Well, Marla was right, and I was only partially correct. Marla was nobody's enemy, but she had an enemy.  Her qualities of goodness,empathy, being "lichtig" (lit up), her complete commitment to her people and to humanity, made her the enemy of those who murdered her.

May her memory be for a blessing.
Ben Blutstein (1977-2002/5737-5762)
בנימין בערל בן נחמן ושרה

By Yoni Shear (Cohort 10)

I was recently reminded that the best way to have someone’s memory live on forever is for each of us to embrace in our lives a quality of the person we have lost. Ben Blutstein, Zichrono L’vracha, and I first met at camp Ramah in the Poconos when we were both 12 years old. Ben was not the quiet type. He was always very boisterous and very often getting himself and the rest of our bunk into trouble. Needless to say...we liked him a lot. 

 But as life takes its twists and turns we lost touch through the years. And as fate would have it, we reconnected in 2001 under the strangest of circumstances.  I had come to Israel for the year and my friend Erica and I received an invitation to a Pardes Kabbalat Shabbat davening in someone’s house.  We took our seats and in walked a “very large” guy with an even larger Kippah on his head.  He was sporting a large bushy beard and his long tzitzis were flapping as he walked.  He found his seat, right next to mine, and we davened together. Afterwards, I turned to him and introduced myself. “Hi, I’m Yoni Shear.” He replied, “Hi, I’m Ben Blutstein. You slept next to me in Bunk 8.”

We spent that year getting together on many occasions and catching up.  Very often, we would bump into each other on Emek Refaim coming
out of the HaMoshava Market.  If you didn’t see Ben walking through Emek, then you would find him spinning records and 'DJing' the top clubs in Yerushalaim.  It was a sight to see when he would play a record and as the music was playing, pull out a pocket gemara and learn a baraita until he had to mix the next song.
 Ben was a person with a love for Torah, music, friends and life.  I wish you all had a chance to know him personally.  Just meeting him and receiving one of his trademark “Ben hugs” as he called them, and not “Bear hugs,” you would know exactly the kind of person he was.

So let this day of learning be our way of instilling Ben’s love of Torah and life in our lives.  And may his memory be a blessing for us forever.