Norman Finkelstein, Zichrono Livrocho

May his memory be for a blessing.

I turned 54 years old at the end of December, with both of my parents and in-laws as part of my life. However, that changed on January 5th when I lost one – my father.

While I don’t typically share much about my personal life, I hope you’ll indulge me today. As I eulogized my father at his funeral, I said, “I am a Jewish communal professional, as my father was, because my father was.”

Norman H. Finkelstein was many things to many people: a husband, a dad, a Saba, a librarian, a teacher, a Jewish educator, an award-winning author, a Mason, a volunteer leader in his synagogue, a friend, a brother, an uncle, a good son, a witty individual, a talented napper, and much more. To learn more about him, please read this article published by the Jewish Telegraphic Association wire service and reshared in many major Jewish news outlets (including the Pittsburgh Jewish Chronicle): Boston writer Norm Finkelstein, whose YA books championed Jewish heroes, dies at 82 – Jewish Telegraphic Agency (jta.org).

As the article mentions, my father wrote two books that will be released in the months ahead. The first is a children’s book, which will be widely distributed by PJ Library (a program our Federation funds locally), resulting in an enormously large readership. The second book, scheduled to be released in May, focuses on antisemitism in America and includes an account of what transpired in Pittsburgh on October 27, 2018. I anticipate that these two books will likely be the most read of the 22 he authored, and I’m sorry my dad won’t be able to see that impact.

Jewish educators come in all different types: formal, informal, and experiential. My father mastered all three. He taught Jewish history in the classroom at the Prozdor Hebrew high school of Hebrew College in Boston. He worked in an immersive Jewish summer camp environment at Camp Yavneh, where I saw him teaching classes in outdoor classrooms and performing in plays addressing Jewish subjects. My father’s passing gives me pause to thank all our Pittsburgh area Jewish educators for all they do.

I’m deeply thankful to be part of such a supportive, caring Jewish community in Pittsburgh at a time like this. And I can assure you that the memory of Norman Finkelstein will forever be a blessing to his family and all he touched.

Shabbat Shalom.

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