Sam Berman was the rabbi of Temple Beth Shalom in my town. He died unexpectedly and much too young while undergoing heart surgery. His passing has left hundreds of people saddened and bereft of a true spiritual leader.
Sam was born to Holocaust survivors in a displaced persons camp in Germany. He graduated with a degree in Sacred Music from Hebrew Union College and received his Doctor of Music in 2000. He served congregations in the U.S. and Canada. In 2005, he was ordained a rabbi. Sam had an incredible tenor voice and sang in a variety of venues in this country and in Canada.
Sam leaves behind his beautiful wife, Dale, two children and two grandchildren.
Our community will miss his activism and commitment, his grace, wisdom and generosity. Sam headed our town's Interfaith Alliance and its ministerial association. He also served as chaplain for the police and fire departments.
I miss him for he was a good friend and a mentor. Sam was a scholar, devoted to study of the Torah and his biblical knowledge was massive. But it was his love for people and his willingness to always be present for those in need that defined him.
After his passing, his wife, Dale, discovered the following on his computer. It is a fitting tribute to him as a person and the life to which he aspired.
When I Die
When I die
If you need to weep
Cry for someone
Walking the street beside you.
And when you need me
Put your arms around others
And give them what you need to give me.
You can love me most by letting
Hands touch hands, and
Souls touch souls.
Your can love me most by
Sharing your joys
Multiplying your good deeds.
You can love me most by
Letting me live in your eyes
And not in your mind.
And when you say Kaddish for me
Remember what our tradition teaches:
Love doesn't die, People do.
So when all that's left of me is love,
Give me away.
Rest in peace, my friend!