Remembering My Father

by Ronnie Rubin

I feel very at home here among all of you. I want to thank you for being here to honor my father. It was his love of his family and friends that gave him his greatest joys in life.

Judaism, as most of you know, was my father's passion. It was what fueled his life as a husband and a father; It became central to a lot of his work; and in one way or another, it was his focus in leisure as well.

I didn't always agree with my father. We often had opposing opinions. Be it politics or family issues or whatever. But regardless of his belief or opinion, he was passionate about it. He didn't always give his children what we wanted but he gave us what we needed. He gave each of us something different, something important, something special that we have all taken and grown with, In each of us there is apart of him ...a testament to who he was as a father, as a man, and as a Jew.

My brother David shares my father's intellect, his yearning for knowledge, and his sensitivity. I think everyone would agree that my brother might be the nicest guy in America. Many of you know about the work my father did with the Hasidem in Brooklyn. He loved his work. He talked about it ...ALL THE TIME. I once asked him why he gave so much of himself to this and he told me, "I just wanted to help them."

With my sister Shirah, he shared and cherished his love of Judaism, and his mission of Tikkun Olam - to repair the world. They were like two kindred souls. Many of you know that my father spent years pursuing his project of restoring Jewish cemeteries in eastern Europe. Perhaps one of his most proud moments as a father was when Shirah went to Poland to dedicate a memorial at a cemetery in a town that her great-grandparents were born in.

To me, my father gave his drive and his tenacity. His never say quit attitude. And G-d knows I've needed it. I remember once I was in high school playing varsity basketball and at some point 1 wanted to quit the team because I thought I wouldn't get a chance to play much. My dad spent two days nonstop trying to change my mind. "Don't quit. You should see it through," he urged. I finally took his advice. Later that year we won a national championship and I felt very much a part of the team. After which he said to me, "See, aren't you glad you listened to your father?"

In our years in Bowie, Maryland, he and my mother gave me what I have today as the essence of my Jewish identity. The community and our "shut", Nevy Shalom, that he helped start and build, are the strongest memories I have of my childhood. How could it not be when your father is the president of the Shul and your mother is the president of the Sisterhood? As a child I would come home from a game and tell my father how many points I had or how many runs I had scored and he would say to me, "That's great, Ron, but how many mitzvahs did you do today? Everything I am trying to give and teach to my children, to his grandchildren, about Judaism, Shabbat, and mitzvoth are from what he has taught me all my life.

In the Talmud it says: he who gives a coin to a poor man is rewarded with six blessings; but he who encourages him is rewarded with eleven. Clearly my father was rewarded with more than eleven blessings. But it is we, his family and friends, who were rewarded the most by having been known and loved by him.

I have a very early memory of my father teaching me about mitzvoth and Tzedukah. He taught me that the greatest mitzvahs were the ones that no one knew you did. He did a lot of those. My father was not a man of wealth but was one of the greatest philanthropists I have ever known. He gave his heart, his soul, and his mind to projects from Woscow, Poland to Tombstone, Arizona and many places in between. He touched many lives. In fact, the word Tzedukah does not just mean charity. It means righteous giving. I think my brother said it best yesterday, "Our father was a righteous man."

To all of us, he gave the strength to survive. Many of you may think of my father's life as tragic with the loss of my mother, the loss of Eileen, and the loss of Josephine. But it was from these events that his strength and courage grew. I believe that he, in many ways, grew with each of these tragedies in his desire to perform mitzvoth. To perpetuate Tikkun Olam. And most importantly, in his ability to enjoy life and to laugh.

If he were here, he would tell you how lucky he was to have the chance to love these women; how lucky he was to have the friendships he had with everyone; how lucky he was to have a family that he loved, and that he knew loved him. And it seemed that my father was happier than he had ever been with his bride to be... Barbara. She was his best friend, his confidant. Dave, Shirah and I love her because she was the first woman to actually put him in his place. And we looked forward to having her and her children in our family.

In Tucson, I have met many people that I had never seen before tell me what a great man my father was, how much he had given to the Jewish community here. Sounded familiar ...people have been telling me this all my life kind and giving he was.

As I marveled at the wonderful home he had set up here in Tucson, I found a piece of paper that I think sums up his life. It said:


And from this, perhaps the greatest joys in my father's life were his grandchildren. And to Jeffrey, Amy and Steven, the message that your Zayde has for you is this:

Learn about your past; embrace Judaism; understand where you came from.
Live and learn everyday with Joy and Passion; be a kind and generous person.
Have trust and faith in G-d.

Uvachain yaheeratzon.