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Rabbi's Column Mar./Apr. 2019: Family and Community

May 05, 2019 10:44 AM | Lance Strate (Administrator)


Rabbi Barry Schwartz

I am writing this brief column just days after the loss of my beloved father, Rudy Schwartz.

As a rabbi I have witnessed the significance of family and community support so many times over the past thirty years, but this time it is personal.

My father rallied rather miraculously to say goodbye to all his family. In turn, my sister and I, and all six of my father’s grandchildren participated in the funeral service that was such a tribute to his memory.

The outpouring of support from extended family and from the community in Cherry Hill and in Leonia was gratifying and uplifting.

We take for granted the importance of family at times of need (though sadly not all share in that blessing and we can often do better in sharing our gratitude for each other), but as a society today we often overlook the abiding contribution of community.

There is an expression that I often share at our yizkor service that “shared joy is doubled; shared sadness is halved.” It may be nice to post simchas and sorrows on Facebook, but it is no substitute for the person-to-person celebrations and commemorations that happen in real community.

The synagogue has been around for two thousand years of our history in every place where Jews have lived, and even in our day and age I can think of no better institution for the creation and sustenance of true community. My father, who was the child of penniless immigrants from Eastern Europe, and grew up during the Depression, always remembered his humble and challenging upbringing, and stood in endless gratitude for his family and community. Avi mori, my father and teacher, taught me well, and I echo his appreciation and thankfulness.

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