Joe Shafran Eulogy Sunday, September 14, 2008 Petirah 11 Elul 5768
Good morning everyone,
Thank you all for coming to the funeral services of Joe Shafran. I am Rabbi Dr. Moshe Weisblum, spiritual leader of Congregation Kneseth Israel where Joe was a member since his arrival in Annapolis, MD.
Why are so many people here today to pay their respects to Joe and his family and why do so many people love Joe so much? As I look around this room I see a multitude of friends. If I were to ask each of you to tell me something about Joe, I'm sure you would have something very special to say about him. For he was genuinely well liked by all who had the good fortune to know him. The center of Joe’s life was his family - first and foremost was his love for his wife-Gerry. Not only were they married for 57 years they were also best friends.
Joe had many interests. In particular, he loved history, and took the time to learn about the history of his hometown and the history of our country. He also was involved in politics, volunteering for many years at the White house. He was a journalist for The Capital newspaper and also had radio and television shows. People gravitated to Joe because he was an interesting individual, who cared about people and who touched the lives of so many. No matter where he went or what he did, Joe was a real "mentch” in Yiddish that word means a person who is a positive, quintessential, humanitarian, a good man.
I have had the privilege of knowing Joe not only as a congregant, but also as a friend. We jogged together and we laughed together. I was impressed by his optimistic and noble attitude towards life and his fascination with the world. He had strong, intelligent opinions and liked to converse and have a good time. Joe believed that every person is unique and has special G-d given talents and gifts. As his Rabbi, I appreciated that point of view. Yes, Joe was truly a class act, a fun loving person with a broad smile. He was an ardent advocate for exercise and sports. He believe that exercise helped one to breath out a problem and breath in life, peace and energy. The dream of his life was to see people happy, and to see sharing. That happiness with family, children, grandchildren and friends, and to see happiness flourish in our beloved country.
Joe believes in the value of creating an atmosphere filled with positive thinking. He used to say "People may make mistakes, but many things can be repaired with Love." Yes, Joe was loved by so many because he loved people. I used to tell him that his attitude was straight from the Book of Proverbs and I quote “the same way you look at the mirror, is the way the face in the mirror reflects back to you." He used to ask "What is the message from your heart?" If Joe was standing here he would say to everyone "Please take a moment to create a garden of flowers for yourself." Do you recognize your uniqueness? If so, do not be afraid to show who you are and how special you are."
Joe, please continue to walk in the place we call ‘the Garden of Eden.’
My dear friends, in just 2 weeks, the Jewish High Holidays will begin. The time of the creation of the world, we reach the moment of revelation, the moment of reflection and prayer, witnessing the awe of amazement by the Almighty G-d. So in just two weeks, I'll look at Joe's empty seat and the realization of his loss will fill me with sadness. I'll miss you Joe. I'll miss you not only as my congregant but also as my friend.
Our heartfelt condolences to his dear wife Jerri, their daughters, Janie and Nancy and her husband Robert and your 4 grandchildren.
May G-d remove their tears from the eyes of the mourners and let us respond Amen.