For the past two and a half years, I have been the facilitator of a Yiddish reading class at Santa Monica Emeritus College. We are currently completing the reading in the Sholom Aleichem's classic, "Motl, Peyse dem Khazn's" ("Motl, Peyse the Cantor's Son").
The class resembles, at times, a cheder (classroom) of days gone by, as students follow, make penciled notations and take their turn reading, some more skilled than others, but all very patient and accepting. The atmosphere and camaraderie is simply a joy to experience -- mishpacha (family).
We lost our very best reader in the terrible tragedy at the Santa Monica Market on Wednesday afternoon, July 16. Movsha Hoffman is gone.
On Friday morning, when all the victims' names and accompanying photos were made public, our class, on summer hiatus, was reunited in grief. The phone rang incessantly and tears along with reminiscences followed.
Here was a man who fled Stalin, lived simply through difficult times and never lost an ounce of his effervescence and optimism. His perpetual smile and good nature led everyone to "love the guy" and his bubbly, effusive greetings were something very special. To help someone was pretty much his mantra.
He was my resident expert for Russian terminology that often crept into Aleichem's narrative. These words were not to be found in any Yiddish dictionary, old or new.
A warm and wonderful person has left us, a true example of menschlichkayt (decency). He will long be remembered -- and may that memory be a blessing.