GRATITUDE

The post I intended has been postponed a week. I want to get to something both overdue and necessary.

Gratitude.

Cheers to the people on the pandemic’s front lines. Doctors and nurses. Ambulance drivers, lab techs and hospital janitors. A shout-out to non-medical folks promoting the general welfare: farmers and laborers, factory workers, cops, firefighters, EMTs and ambulance drivers. Also, workers at public utilities. Everyone along the food chain. Pharmacists, techs and associates. Mechanics. Bank personnel. Bus, subway and train drivers along with cabbies and on-demand drivers. And everyone else getting it done.

Thanks also to so many people who, over 75 years, I owe so much. I’ll miss some—maybe many—but here’s a sampling.

My parents, Morris and Blanche, taught me to love and do the right thing. Unlike many, they walked the walk. My terrific sister Kay Zaks (and brother-in-law Herb). We encourage and comfort each other across the continent.

Family and friends—Ron and Lynn Laupheimer, David and Ellen Newman, for example—laugh (sometimes) at my jokes and put up with my introversion and occasional lack of social graces. I can’t name everyone, but you know who you are. And if you think you’re in this group, you are.

Now, a few names from the past. My kid/teen buddies Marty, Lenny, Alan, Mickey, Sammy and Dennis. Mrs. Fulton, my teacher in third and fourth grades at P.S. 174, who provided great encouragement. So, too, Mrs. Bushinsky, my Sabra teacher in Hebrew School. Les Kozerowitz, from Camp Colang (summers) then Alfred University, remains a valued friend.

Two men helped me during seventh grade when my emotions went off the rails. When I balked at being bar mitzvah, Rabbi Josiah Darby of Rego Park Jewish Center convinced me to stick with it. Am I glad! When I was miserable—isolated from friends in the seventh-grade Special Progress class that would vault me to ninth—Dr. Gramet, principal at Russell Sage Junior High, gracefully encouraged me to enter eighth grade the following year. And hats off to Mrs. Alexander, my eighth-grade home room/art teacher. I recovered a lot of my lost sense of self in her class. And always, the Perlstein family doctor, Irving Nachtigal, took care of us.

Dr. Mel Bernstein, chair of the English Department and my adviser at Alfred, taught me a great lesson: Never forget your sense of humor. Staff Sergeant Thomas “Fat Cat” Johnson gave basic training at Fort Dix perspective. John McCarthy, my boss in Fort Sam Houston’s Special Services office, modeled true professionalism. Brother Louis Schuster, a dynamic Chaucer scholar at St. Mary’s University where I earned my M.A., reminded me to maintain the discipline I’d learned at Fort Benning on both the academic and life fronts.

John Fabian helped me build a successful freelance copywriting business. Marty Weiner and Larry Raphael were more than rabbis. Friends, their support of my writing, along with Jim Shay, Ron Eaton, Jane Cutler and Tom Parker, mean so much.

I consider my Torah Study buddies, including Dan Weiss and Ira Fateman, as brothers—and sisters.

I don’t know where I’d be without Carolyn. And I love my kids—Seth, Yosi and Aaron (plus husband Jeremy).

Thank you one and all. “No man is an island,” wrote the British poet John Donne. Truer words.

Happy Passover, Happy Easter, Happy Ramadan. And if you’re celebrating anything else, may you also find joy, fulfillment and courage.

To respond, click on “comments” to the right just below the title of this post. Then go to the response space at the bottom of the post.

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15 Comments


  1. Les Kozerowitz
    Apr 10, 2020

    Perls (never David to me), like his parents before him, walks the walk. On the theme of gratitude, I submit this: as a freshman in college, I contracted mononucleosis, and was confined to the university infirmary for a week or more. One or two friends stopped by, once or twice. One person was there every day, sometimes twice a day, bringing me class assignments, reading materials and general good cheer. That was the aforementioned Perls, a mensch for the ages. For that (and not for his terrible jokes, nor his overinflated sense of his basketball prowess [he’s truly a legend in his own mind]), he has my eternal gratitude.


    • David
      Apr 10, 2020

      Duke: Overinflated sense of my basketball prowess? Actually, if I’d gotten in better shape and done (more) drills, I’d have still sucked. And still beaten you one-on-one.


      • Les Kozerowitz
        Apr 10, 2020

        Fake news…


        • David
          Apr 10, 2020

          In the world we live in, is there any other?


  2. Jayne
    Apr 10, 2020

    David,
    What a beautiful tribute to all who have supported you in your life, and what an honor for all those included in it! I have chosen a personal lifetime commitment to an “Attitude of Gratitude and Latitude”; Meaning, to mindfully recognize what “I have” (vs have not) and to be my “highest/best self”. It is with this specific mindset, that I express daily compassion, kindness, love and support for those I love and those in need. A VERY fulfilling “gift” I give to my self and to hopefully to others. Happy Passover to you and the family…I am so grateful to have you all in my life!


    • David
      Apr 10, 2020

      Thanks. Jayne. Carolyn and I are so delighted to have you as a cousin. Chag sameach!


  3. David Newman
    Apr 10, 2020

    Thanks for the mention in such wonderful company. It’s a privilege to be entrusted with your sense of humor — and your puns are nothing compared to some of the things our son Ben comes up with. On the gratitude front, I want to add everyone who stays home, who walks out into the street to stay an appropriate distance away, who smiles or acknowledges our efforts at maintaining a social distance, who is persisting through this with grace and humor and concern. To everyone who thinks they’re doing nothing, your doing nothing is an affirmative act, a choice to do the right thing to protect yourselves, your friends and loved ones, and perfect (and imperfect) strangers. You are performing the mitzvah of protecting life, and that’s not nothing — it’s really something.


    • David
      Apr 10, 2020

      As always, David, well said.


  4. Collin Edwards
    Apr 10, 2020

    A wonderful post, David. If there is a silver lining to be had in this current coronavirus environment, for me it’s been the ability to preserve and even grow relationships during these times. Our coffee group comes to mind.


    • David
      Apr 10, 2020

      Thanks, Collin. Sometimes, distance is all in the mind.


  5. RWE
    Apr 10, 2020

    David, I’m grateful for my friends at Sherith Isreal, even when they get their literary references muddled: Donne was a Brit. So far as we know he didn’t eat oats but gave that grain to his horses. RWE


    • David
      Apr 10, 2020

      Ron, I’ll make that edit. I thought he converted.


  6. Susan E Shapiro
    Apr 10, 2020

    Thank you so much. Sent me down memory lane, conjuring up visions of those in my life who helped me get where I am today.


  7. Susan E Shapiro
    Apr 10, 2020

    Thank you so much. Sent me down memory lane, conjuring up visions of those in my life who helped me get where I am today.


    • David
      Apr 10, 2020

      Susan, we all stand on a lot of shoulders.

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