‘Amos taught us how to treat others, especially those with whom we disagree’

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‘Amos taught us how to treat others, especially those with whom we disagree’

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner writes from Tel Aviv, where she's attending the funeral of her brother-in-law, the iconic Israeli author Amos Oz.

Amos Oz
Amos Oz

Today I’m in Tel Aviv, about to attend the funeral of Amos Oz (z”l) as he was my husband, David’s, brother.

Amos grew up as Amos Klausner but as a teenager he chose his new surname, Oz (strength), to distance himself from his well-known Jerusalemite, right-wing, Revisionist family of Klausners.

Today especially, I’m acutely aware of all he taught us. Amos taught us to be brave. Say what you believe, say it clearly, challenge with exact language the wrongs you see around you.

Rabbi Laura Janner-Klausner

He modelled integrity. Be the same in public as in private – his private persona completely matched the public. Amos taught us consistency. His understated, reliable acts of love, encouragement and gentleness were far stronger than any bombastic gestures.

I was immensely intimidated when I came into this uber-literary family as an olah (immigrant to Israel) at 22. However, I soon relaxed because of Amos’s steady, unpretentious, gentle love. Amos taught us how to treat others, especially those with whom we don’t agree. Or, as he would say, how to treat our enemies.

At home and with guests, he showed love through straightforward kibbutz-style food preparation and a well honed dedication to systematic table clearing and instantaneous washing up.

His supreme storytelling and jokes were a key part of ensuring guests were cared for and at ease. Amos taught us about accuracy as part of integrity. Details are vital.

Amos upheld the Klausner tradition that no meal is complete without several trips to rummage in reference books in his the gargantuan library to search out a Hebrew root or to root out facts.

Amos taught us the power of disciplined use of time, stemming from his urgent sense of post Shoah responsibility. He woke by 5am, walked for an hour, worked, rested and worked again. Most of all, Amos taught us the meaning of loyalty. Amos and Nili’s 60 years of marriage is a beacon of mutuality and stability. He was loyal to his children and his siblings, Nita and David, to friends, to Jewish history, to Israel, the national rights of Palestinians and to human rights far beyond Israel. 

I’m used to funerals from my work but this is a funeral I just can’t believe is happening. I’m holding tight to my family and to those cherished memories and all those life lessons Amos embodied in his words, values and actions. El mekomo yavo b’shalom.

May our Amos, Amos Oz who belonged to the whole world and certainly not just to his family, go to his resting place in peace. 

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