Leyland was taken from us on Friday night, when it is said that the Zadakim, the righteous, are called to join the company of G-d. I don’t know if Leyland would have called himself a Zadik, but he was certainly the kind of person you would like to have in your company. We were fortunate, then, that the happy marriage of our children Peter and Yael made us not only relatives, but friends as well.
Leyland was first and foremost a proud Jew, a strong link in a chain of Jewish heritage, stretching over generations and continents, from Eastern Europe to South Africa and to Eretz Yisrael. While he wasn’t an observant Jew, the sound of davening in shul was the music of his childhood, and on his bookshelves, next to art albums and science magazines, there stood the Bible and the Jewish historical books.
Leyland was a Zionist. He was plucked cruelly from us on Parashat Lech Lecha when Abraham was told by God: “Get thee out of your country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father’s house, unto a land that I will show thee”. Not a simple thing at all, in mid-life, but that’s exactly what motivated Leyland. Zionism, not of phrases, but of practice. Zionism without exclamation mark, definitely without a question mark. Just Zionism. Period.
Still, he remained a South African, clinging to fellow South Africans who chew biltong together and in their distinct accent, humor about this rough country, while quietly pursuing their lives and careers in that enviable blend of excellence, resilience and civility.
Leyland was a fine doctor, as his many patients and colleagues can tell. For him medicine was more than just a profession, it was a life mission. Even when he slowed down his medical career, he never stopped reading the latest professional magazine articles and updating himself on the cutting-edge developments in medicine and science.
Finally, he was a family man, and even when there was, at times, a bit more rain than sunshine, his family remained the center and the love of his life.
So sad then to see Leyland – a man full of passion for life – going away now, in such a tragic way, when there are so many family gatherings to attend, so many classical discs to listen to and to share, so many things to do together.
As mechutanim (in-laws) we met almost every day, not necessarily face to face, but rather through emails. I used to send him pieces I wrote, and he would share with me interesting and funny stuff. Here is something he sent me a few days ago.
“The true balance sheet of US Investment banks: There are two sides of the balance sheet – the left side and the right side. On the left side, there is nothing right. And on the right side, there is nothing left.”
After reading emails, we usually delete them. But this last email, I will save in my computer, and you, Leyland, I will save in my heart.