Today, we are here to commemorate my father, Manfred Blumenthal--Meir Ben Shimon Halevi’s passing. My dad was my father, my guide, my role model for life—he meant everything to me, and my words alone cannot capture my feelings of love, devotion, and gratitude to him.
My father was a deeply religious man and he was a tzadik (truly righteous person), and his passing yesterday on the Jewish date of Asara B’Tevet (the 10th day of the Hebrew month of Tevet) is a portrayal of his very belief system and of him as a servant of Hashem, always.
On Asara B’Tevet, over 2,400 years ago, the Babylonian Emperor, Nebuchadnezzar laid siege to the holy city of Jerusalem leading months later to the breach of the city walls and then on Tisha B’Av to the destruction of the Jewish temple.
The synagogue to my father was the surrogate for the Jewish temple, and he went everyday like a soldier, morning and night, to pray and serve G-d. In fact, some his most joyous moments, when I was a kid, was when we went together and I sat at his side in shule.
To my dad, he loved Hashem, his family, and the community and was devoted to them in every way.
Religiously, my dad not only went to synagogue to pray, but went regularly to multiple shiurim (Torah classes) during the week, served years ago on the Chevra Kadisha (Jewish Burial Society), did Bichur Cholim (visiting the sick), gave charity all the time, and made a beautiful Jewish home with my mother, Gerda Blumenthal, for us first on the Upper West Side of Manhattan, then in Riverdale, New York, and finally in Silver Spring MD.
My dad and mom loved Riverdale where we lived for over 20 years, yet when my wife and I and our children moved here to Silver Spring to make our home and work for the Federal government, my parents uprooted and moved here within the very same year to be with us.
No matter the hardship, my dad would do whatever it took. When he and his brother and sister (Sid and Ruth) and their parents (my Oma and Opa) fled the Nazi’s in Germany and made their way through Italy and England and ultimately to America, my father lost all his education, was interned on the Isle of man, and worked selling goods on the streets to help his family survive.
The Holocaust deeply seared my father, who was only a child when it happened, and interestingly enough these days, Asara B’Tevet is also the general Kaddish Day (memorial) for victims of the Holocaust, many of whose martyrdom is unknown.
When interned, my father got very sick with a high fever for many days, and one day, the fever broke, and my father awoke and said to his family, "Today we are going to get our visas to America"--and that is exactly what happened.
Miracles followed my father as well as his devotion to family…he worked for decades, as manager, in ladies handbags. Yet due to competition from overseas, the company finally closed, and my father was without a job, and my Bar Mitzvah was coming up. Even though out of work and not knowing when another job in that economy would present itself, My father believed and said, “Hashem will provide” and that we would still have the big event bringing me into my religious manhood as a Jew. It was a beautiful event and my father did get another job from a neighbor who sat right across the aisle from us in Shule who happened to have, a handbag manufacturing company.
I remember my dad working extra hard to put me and my sister Roz through Yeshiva, college, and even graduate school. I remember him coming home from work and then going out again to work Bingo nights for the school to help them out.
Despite tough economic times, my dad insisted that he pay for me to go to karate classes, which he knew I loved, and always put aside allowance money for me and my sister and then the grandchildren.
For years my dad taught me to always do what was right, follow the Torah, and my conscience…he was the ultimate role model for me as a good, decent human being.
When my mom was so sick with Parkinson’s disease, first at home and then at the Hebrew Home, my dad was again there like a soldier, all day long, every day, to sit with her and care for her with no thought at all to his personal needs or health. My mom passed away less than a year ago on January 13, 2014 (the 12th day of the Hebrew month of Sh’vat).
I remember so many wonderful times together from Shabbat meals and holidays, and celebrations like my wedding to my wife Dossy and Bat Mitzvah’s of our children, Minna and Rebecca and my niece’s, Yaffa. As well as challenging times, when one of us was sick in the hospital and my dad was there with me, again multiple times a day, to comfort me and help me—with no thought of himself.
As a parent, I could go on and on about my dad, but he was also a good friend to so many of you in the community and he loved to talk with you, tell jokes, pray with you, have a meal with you, join with you at the shule dinner and so many other community events.
Manfred Blumenthal, my dad, was a true servant of G-d and a loving father and grandfather who would and did do anything for us, including saving the life of my very wife, who had gotten ill a number of years ago.
Even though I would argue with my dad, I always knew he was right about things, and he would guide me no matter what.
Now today, I stand here next to his casket…devastated at the loss.
I love you dad, we all love you and wish you peace, happiness, and countless blessings in the afterlife. You gave us everything and you deserve to be rewarded by the Almighty in heaven together with mom and your loving parents, Simon and Hilda Blumenthal.
I cannot say goodbye, just see you later where we can all stand together in heaven before Hashem!