Remembrances of Larry Kaufman
As a regular reader—and writer of comments—on my blog (and plenty of others, too), you know all too well that I have a penchant for writing to people who are unlikely to answer by way of the USPS, Gmail or AOL. No doubt you’ve read many a note to my late mother and perhaps even the one I wrote to Mrs. Steinberg back in March. Sadly, you recently joined their ranks, which is, in part, what’s prompted this letter to you.
Although I hope you know how loved, appreciated and respected you were by so many of us within the Reform Movement, I thought you might like to hear firsthand what people have been saying and writing about you in the days since you’ve been gone.
Most of us learned of your death in an email that was sent to the entire URJ board, staff, and blog editorial board a week ago Friday. It said, in part: “Larry was known by many as having been active on our North American Board in several capacities, with ARZA, with the WUPJ, with OSRUI, with the Great Lakes Council and with the Central District.”
A flurry of responses from your friends and colleagues followed.
From Jim came this: “What a loss. I so enjoyed his thinking and his friendship.”
And from Bill, this: “Very saddened to hear this. I will miss him.”
Carol and Mitch sent this message: “It was a privilege to serve with Larry on the RJ Advisory Board. His wisdom, advice and particularly his care and concern for the Union and Reform Judaism magazine will be very much missed.”
Echoing Carol and Mitch, Marilynn wrote: “I, too, served with Larry in many capacities on the URJ Board. He was a friend, a mentor and an incredible human being.”
Peter sent these words: “Larry was a gentleman, engaged in our movement, Israel and his congregation. He was a leader willing to take on assignments with dignity and enthusiasm. His unique combination of easy style and enthusiasm will be missed.”
From Sandy: “Larry was known and loved by everyone on the board. He is someone whose presence in this world will be missed because he truly made a difference to many, many people. I’ve worked with him on the ARZA board and could always count on him for help in any situation.”
Rosanne added these words to the conversation: “Like many others whom you will hear from, I wanted to add my voice about Larry, a caring, engaging man who believed in and supported Reform Judaism with every ounce of spirit. He was always the first to respond to a blog or an email. We served together as regional presidents; Larry was always vocal and interesting. He will be missed by all.”
On Facebook, too, countless people have been singing your praises. As you might expect, I wrote a note to my mom to let her know to expect you soon:
Dear The Mums,
Larry Kaufman is on his way to your yeshiva shel malah and I’m sure he’s going to shake things up—in a good way. I’ll bet you’ll enjoy having him around, and we, for sure, are sad to lose him.
P.S. Victor thinks that you and Larry will be running the place before too long and I agree!
That post received nearly a dozen comments and twice as many “Likes.”
On your own Facebook page, so many wrote fondly of you as learned, kind, generous, wise, humble, and even-handed, as well as a teacher, mentor, lifelong learner and friend. Stacey (a fellow writer, who, thanks to you, I’ve now met online) posted a link to this beautiful poem, which she wrote “in honor, in love and in remembrance” of you.
Indeed, just as you blessed each of us with your knowledge, insights, stories, kindness, friendship and, most of all, your presence—Hineini—so, too, are we blessed by the sweet memories of you that we now hold dear.
Godspeed, my friend. We’ll miss you.