November 15, 2020
In the Book of Genesis when the Hittites meet Abraham, they say to him, “ N’see Elohim atah b’tocheinu”—-“You are a prince of God among us”. Meaning, that Abraham’s personal qualities— his integrity, his decency, his kindness—recommend him as the elect of God, therefore to be trusted among Men.
Ironically, painfully we’d have to say, this pronouncement of Abraham by the Hittites comes in “ Chayei Sara”, this past week’s parasha, which Barry was due to read 58 years ago, almost exactly, as Bar Mitzvah. He didn’t of course, at least then, as his father’s sudden death shook up Barry’s world, along with that of his family.
And, irony upon irony, Barry had hoped to read, or at least, bless, the same “Chayei Sara” portion yesterday. Of course “The Life of Sara” is actually about Sara’s death — which is what brings Abraham to the Hittites, even as he mourns his wife.
And, death is what brings us here, here to rest Barry Silver in God’s good earth.
However, the fateful irony of it all hardly casts a shadow over Barry’ life. Rather, it serves as a reminder that Barry was “n’see elohim b’tocheinu “— the best among us, a prince of a man, a son, a husband and father, a grandfather and brother, who made us better and whom we loved. Barry wasn’t perfect—he had weaknesses, and he knew them—but he got life right.
Sometimes, as the old Marvin Gaye song has it, “the good, they die young”. Barry has died young— too young— but not without leaving a grateful family, and legions of admirers.
Whether you knew Barry at Yitz’s, at Holy Blossom Temple, or within the confines of his family, he was the same man: responsible, warm- hearted and kind. He greeted everyone, friend or newcomer, in the same manner: hands out in a welcoming gesture, smile on his face, both of which came from a loving heart.
And, whether Barry was gabbai or president, he loved both positions equally, carrying himself the same on the bima as in the boardroom: Modestly, drawing attention to the matter at hand, never to himself.
Exactly the stance of a “ n’see Elohim.”— A prince in the city and at home, at business and at shul. And while Barry would never say this about himself, we can and should: A man of God. His belief was quiet but sure, never paraded, never anything but sincere.
I, for one, not knowing Barry early on, arrived late to his circle of admirers. I’ve thought about why, and I believe I know: Barry didn’t try to impress, he didn’t brag ( except about his family, and then only quietly), he didn’t impose —- But once you figured out that he was, indeed, a prince among us you were brought close , you entered the circle of admirers, and you didn’t leave.
At the heart of that circle— the beating heart for Barry— were Gail and Jordana and Josh and Stacey; Joey and Myles; and Julianne and Mindy.
More than the store, more than the synagogue, Barry’s family was Life . In health and in illness… Gail and Jordana Stacey and Josh, when Barry took sick last year, you began the accompaniment of which we’ve spoken—escorting, supporting, loving Barry from then until now.
So, we will deeply miss Barry Silver, this sentimental and sweet man, who had no pretensions and never postured, who took seriously what and who he loved, but refused to take himself unduly seriously.
The Rabbis ask who is the wealthy one? The one, they say, blessed to be at peace with where he’s landed in life, sufficiently contented with his lot.
A couple of weeks ago, Barry said to me, “I’m a lucky man, I’ve had a good life, a great wife and family, and I’ve been able to see my young grandsons begin to grow.”
Gail, Jordana, Josh and Stacey: Barry was deeply appreciative of the comfort and love you provided him— during these fourteen months until Friday morning.
We join you among the many who will remember Barry, now and always.