The funeral oration for Ivry Gitlis

The funeral oration for Ivry Gitlis


norman lebrecht

December 31, 2020

From a graveside hesped delivered yesterday by Rabbi Delphine Horvilleur:

This man had many names, more or less known, those given to him by his life, his relatives, his commitments …
There is the name given to him by his birth, him the son of Asher and Hedva, the child dreams of a Yiddishkeit rebuilding itself in a new world, on the land that will become the State of Israel. He is the only child of this family hope, a child born in Haifa in 1922 and who bears a name, oh so symbolic: YITS’HAK MEIR. Literally it is called in Hebrew: “the laughter that illuminates” . And, in fact, I believe that this beloved child was charged with an expectation of special joy which was to shine on the world.
Very quickly, his laughter resonates and illuminates, through an instrument, a violin that he requested so young.
The whole family and loved ones contribute to give it to him when he is a very small child. Quickly, this child musician is recognized as the bearer of immense talent, and sent with his mother, his dear mother Hedva to Europe to develop his talent like no other.

And the laughter and the light it carries will then have to cross the fear and the darkness of a night falling on the world. The war begins. But this child also knows the chance, and even what one could call the miracle, to be saved. He leaves in time for England where he is sheltered, and even provides for the needs of the family, thanks to the violin.

Very young, he will know the mourning, the mourning of a much loved mother. No doubt that this lack will leave traces all his life, and will be told in an infinite quest for love that will last nearly a century.

And Yits’hak Meïr, laughter and light, did not have only one name… he had to change it because, he was told, “it still sounds too Jewish”. The joker and humorous kid has an idea. It borrows from French geography the name of a small town in the Parisian suburbs IVRY… but translates to those who know how to listen to the full depth of their Jewish and Israeli identity.
IVRY is, of course, the name which in Hebrew specifically designates the Hebrew identity. From that time on, this man we are accompanying calls himself and will be known by a Hebrew name. As a way of saying to the world which invited him to hide his origins: “Go and show yourself! “. “This is who I am and forever, a Hebrew”.

Read on here.


  • Ruben Greenberg says:

    Where is Ivry buried?