This past Friday was the end of the shloshim for a special man.
Marty, z"l was a former supervisor of mine who became, over the time I worked for him and thereafter, a friend. Our relationship was one of mutual admiration and a common passion. I can state the former without any particular vanity, as he shared his regard openly. I'm very sorry and slightly ashamed that I may not have made my own similar esteem as explicitly known. As for the latter, anyone who knew him or who knows me would not be at all surprised that
Marty was a sensitive, candid person, wholly devoted to his priorities. It was once said to me about him that "he wears his heart on his sleeve." This sometimes made working with him intense, even difficult, but it was a quality I appreciated greatly. He didn't play games; you always knew where you stood with him. He didn't pretend to like people, but neither would he withhold respect. He was also as refreshingly straightforward about his own imperfections as about his frustration with others. We once had an argument, in the course of a very busy period, and harsh words were said on both sides. Later that evening, from home, I left a message on Marty's voice mail explaining myself calmly and apologizing for any offense. When I got to work the next morning, there was a handwritten note tucked under my keyboard acknowledging my message, apologizing for his own behavior as well, explaining the emotional stresses that had brought it about, and expressing the hope that we could continue to work well together as we had previously. This from a boss, who could have simply dismissed the incident or chosen to take advantage of his superior position to my detriment. I still have that note.
Marty often seemed beaten down by his work, by his responsibilities, but he embraced them nonetheless and lived with his feet on the ground, tackling each small obstacle in turn. I know that in addition to his regular job, to which he dedicated long hours and huge amounts of energy -- mental, emotional and otherwise -- he ran a private accounting business from his home in the evenings. I always wondered when (or if) he managed to sleep, and how he kept moving forward, accomplishing the amount he did. I must admit that I took advantage of his expertise a couple of times, at least, to ask for direction on personal tax-related issues, and instead of the lecture I probably deserved (especially during tax season!) I got an immediate reply. It may have been as simple as "I don't know, but here's who to ask," but I was never disregarded. In fact, the last time I spoke to Marty was over the phone for just such a question.
Marty was not observant, in that he did not keep the laws of shabbat, kashrut, or many other ritual mitzvot. He was, however, religious. He believed in G-d, he prayed on a regular basis, and he was committed to his synagogue and its community. He was open about his personal theological struggles, not afraid to admit when he was groping for answers. He was respectful and often curious about my own beliefs and observance, sometimes approaching me as a source of information for all things Jewish (with confidence I found flattering, albeit somewhat misplaced). We had conversations about our ideal communities and about things we aspired to learn, which, considering our different perspectives of age and outlook, was remarkable. The most consistent topic of our personal conversations, though, was
Marty was in love with
Last year, Marty called me up when he was in Jerusalem and took me out to dinner with his wife, brother and sister-in-law. I appreciated the gesture, the meal and the company, but most of all I was glad to finally see in its original incarnation that glow, the remnants of which on his face were always noticeable to his colleagues on his every return from the Holy Land.
Marty: husband, father, grandfather, brother, colleague, boss, friend. Jew, Zionist, honest and caring individual. He is already much missed, I am certain, and will continue to be. May his memory be a blessing to all who knew him.