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Mel Seder, sporting his red fedora

Mel Seder, 1944-2004

Mel Seder - Moshe Avraham Ben Eliezer - passed away on the evening of November 9, 2004. His funeral took place at Shaarey Zedek Synagogue, on November 11, 2004. Rabbi Chaya Green presided, and gave a beautiful eulogy. What follows are excerpts from that eulogy.

Mel leaves to mourn for him: Carole, his beloved wife of some 40 years; his children, Elaine and Evan, Leslie and Orin, and Michael; his grandchildren, Lexi and Ezzi; his brother and sister-in-law, Norm and Sheila; as well as numerous nephews, nieces, and other relatives. Mel passed away Tuesday night, tragically, at the age of 60.

I never had the opportunity to get to know Mel personally--something which, in light of the extraordinary life he lived, I regret. Born here in Winnipeg, in 1944, Mel got off to a rough start in life. Mel's mother died of cancer when he was just eight years old. His only memories of his mother were of her illness, and her inability to spend time with him.

After his mother's death, with his father committed to running a more-than-full-time business, Mel was raised by his two aunts, and his grandmother. When he was old enough, Mel returned to live with his father, but tragedy then struck again. His father died when Mel was barely twenty years old. All told, it was a tough way to have to grow up.

Rabbi Nachman of Bratzlav tells us, that "there is no obstacle that cannot be overcome, because obstacles exist only that we may overcome them; and the reality is that there are no obstacles, except the ones we manufacture from within." Mel overcame many, many obstacles in his life.

Only ten weeks after the death of his father, Mel bounced back, and married Carole. Their three children followed in rapid succession. Mel continued to run his father's business for some time. But in the end, he decided to sell the business, return to school, and become a Certified Management Accountant.

This was a crucial turning point in Mel's life. From this point forward, he was really in a position to blossom. Mel was one of the early pioneers of computer literacy, and though he was completely self-taught, Mel became one of the first accountants in the city to combine the power of the computer with accounting. Mel also had the great satisfaction of teaching accounting at Red River College.

Of course, there were many other satisfactions in Mel's life. Blessed with a sweet, and gentle disposition, Mel strode through life with a smile on his face, a good word for all, and friends of every description and background. Mel was also a deeply spiritual person--a seeker, and finder of truth; someone who studied for his Bar Mitzvah when he was in his 40's, and who engaged in a sophisticated level of adult Torah study, practically until the day he died.

Moreover, in spite of being seriously ill for the past seven years, Mel never identified with, nor allowed himself to be overcome by his disease. He never complained, never felt sorry for himself, and always put the needs of others first. He lived every day, and each minute of every day, to the fullest. For Mel, much more than for the rest of us, life was absolutely precious, and he made the most of every little bit of it.

Mel recovered from the blow of not being able to work, by developing new interests--painting, guitar playing, and becoming a Linux guru. As a matter of fact, Mel adopted Linux as one of his unique emblems, during what turned out to be the last phase of his life. One version of Linux, called Red Hat, inspired Mel so much that he actually bought a bright red fedora, and wore it wherever he went. In that hat, people could see Mel coming from a mile away--and he wouldn't have had it any other way.

Mel also had the opportunity to deepen his knowledge of, and affection for, The Grateful Dead. Like the free Linux computer operating system, The Grateful Dead are a symbol of real freedom. Moving counter to the major trends of our culture, The Grateful Dead engaged in unrestrained giving, high achievement for its own sake, and indifference to material acquisitions--the very pursuits that made life truly worth living for Mel.

Mel had known for some time that he might not have very much longer to live. Further, he had no desire to die a lingering death in a hospital ward. So, Tuesday night, Mel's desire was fulfilled. He left this world on a high note, having just installed the latest release of Linux; and having just attended a roast of Winnipeg Mayor Sam Katz. Mel left this world all too soon. But if he didn't succeed in adding years to his life, Mel certainly succeeded in adding life to his years.

May the memory of Mel Seder -- MOSHE AVRAHAM BEN ELIEZER -- prove to be a blessing, and inspiration to all who knew him.

Red Hat Linux Mel Seder, riding in style Steal Your Face, by The Grateful Dead
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