Taken Too Young

Posted by: on Aug 29, 2016 | No Comments

Taken Too Young

I am sure we all have had this experience. A family member, friend, neighbor, colleague, business associate, etc., someone close to your age, passes away unexpectedly. Suddenly it puts life into perspective.

A couple of hours ago I got “that” call. One of business associates/vendors I had been working with passed away. Someone I’ve known and worked with for over 20 years, my age and he’s gone. Yes, he needed to lose weight. Yes, he smoked but to think I saw him last week and he was gone today. Reality just sucks on a day like today.

Even though we were not socially friendly, I will miss Brian every day I sit at my desk. I remember 20+ years, when Monarch was just a couple of years old, we worked on one of first full color jobs. FYI, today almost all our jobs are printed in full color, but 20 years ago full color printing was not as easy or cost efficient as it is today.  We called Brian to help us through that process. It was the first on many times I would rely on his expertise and customer service to help us out.

Many years ago, one of my clients called me “the last of the old time salesman.” He appreciated the fact that I came running when he called. I did not (still do not) rely exclusively on email and the phone to take care of my clients. Brian was more than that. He was a mensch (especially for a big waspy guy). Always happy to stop by when called, always putting in that extra effort, always willing to share his knowledge when we had issues.

I never met Brian’s family but we constantly swapped stories about our kids. He knew that I loved college sports, so he was always keeping me up-to-date on his daughter’s track career at Villanova. I think it gave extra pleasure telling me these stories, while surrounded by Orange in my office.

Brian, you were taken from us too young. Once the initial shock of all this goes away, I will celebrate your life, all the time you helped me professionally and the stories we shared. Rest in peace my friend. Rest in peace.

The Fears of My Father

The Fears of My Father

Posted by: on Jun 14, 2016 | No Comments

The Fears of My Father

A happy grandpa on his 90th birthday

This August, my dad will be 92 years old. He landed on the shores of France 72 years ago this month, shortly after D-Day and was part of the occupational forces in Europe serving in Patton’s army. He is a member of our country’s greatest generation and fought the war to end all wars…or so he thought.

Not So Kosher For Passover

Posted by: on Apr 28, 2016 | No Comments

Not So Kosher For Passover

Yes, I am Jewish. No I don’t keep Kosher…never have…never plan to. There are a lot of folks out there in the world, that when they found out you are Jewish, they just assume you don’t eat pork products. Essentially they are ignorant.

The Bible as the Official State Book

Posted by: on Apr 12, 2016 | No Comments

The Bible as the Official State Book

Yes, you read that title right. The State of Tennessee, in all of their divine wisdom, has voted to name The Holy Bible as the official State Book of Tennessee. Just when you think the religious right could not get anymore out of touch with the principles our nation was built on, someone comes up with this.

The War On Christmas

Posted by: on Dec 28, 2015 | No Comments

The War On Christmas

Now that Christmas 2015 is over, I went to talk about the “War On Christmas.” Before we begin, let’s get over the irony of Ira Berkowitz, a (supposedly) nice Jewish boy from longisland, writing about the “war on Christmas.” Had your little chuckle? Good…let’s move on.

The Pope The Cardinal and The Rabbi

Posted by: on Sep 24, 2015 | No Comments

Pope John Paul in Giants Stadium, October 1985

The Pope The Cardinal and The Rabbi

The Pope, a Cardinal and a Rabbi walk into bar.  Just kidding, well sort of. As most everyone knows, Pope Francis has come to America. I found it ironic that his visit to our country coincided with Yom Kippur, the Jewish Day of Atonement and the holiest day of the year for us members of the tribe. Not only do we have 2 major religious events on the same day but, it just so happens that 20 years ago, my Rabbi had a front row seat when Pope John Paul II came to Giants Stadium.

Back in 1995, the Senior Rabbi at Temple B’nai Jeshurun (TBJ), where the Berkowitz family has been a member for the past 24 years, was Rabbi Barry Greene. A little history about TBJ:  It is the largest and oldest reform Jewish congregation in the state of New Jersey. It was founded in 1848 in Newark, by the influx of mostly German Jews coming to America from Eastern Europe. German Jews were big on assimilation. In other words we can know we’re Jewish but we don’t you to know we’re Jewish.

When my family first joined TBJ, I was one of a handful of congregants to wear a yarmulke (a Jewish skullcap) during services. That’s the way I was brought up – when in Temple, you wore a yarmulke. I learned that Germanic Jews very often shied away from any outward display of Judaism, which I discussed with Rabbi Greene.

In the 1950s, Rabbi Greene served as a Chaplain in the US Navy. His commanding office was Rear Admiral John O’Connor, Chief of Naval Chaplains. Yes, that John O’Connor, who would go to become Cardinal O’Connor, Archbishop of New York…and that’s how The Pope, The Cardinal and The Rabbi came together in Giants Stadium.

Rabbi Greene was invited by Cardinal O’Connor to sit with his delegation on the day the Pope spoke in New Jersey. Just like Bob Uecker, there’s my Rabbi, “sitting in the front row.” Might not have been the front row, but it sure was close. A couple of daze later, I happen to run into Rabbi Greene on Millburn Avenue just as he had left the one hour photo store (remember those???), where he picked up his pictures from his day with The Cardinal and The Pope. He very proudly shared those photos with him, and was quick to point the red skullcap The Pope was wearing. “Look,” he said to me. “The Pope is wearing a yarmulke.”

To this day, every time I put on my bright orange and blue yarmulke, I can’t help but think “just like The Pope.” Only mine is a slightly different color.

The Temple Wave

The Temple Wave

Posted by: on Sep 16, 2015 | No Comments

The one and only (for now) IraSez t-shirt.

The Temple Wave

In the fall of 1980, I’m sitting in the first row of the 2nd level of seats in Hendricks Chapel at SU, along with the roomies. It’s Kol Nidre, the evening service that starts Yom Kippur, the Day of Atonement for those of us of the

Ira The Wedding Officiant

Ira The Wedding Officiant

Posted by: on Jun 19, 2015 | 2 Comments

Kim & Ben’s Wedding.
“I now pronounce you man and wife.”

Ira The Wedding Officiant

Add one more title to my ever expanding job list – Ira Berkowitz, Wedding Officiant. Yup, that really happened. I still

How Many Sins Can Jesus Take

How Many Sins Can Jesus Take

Posted by: on May 28, 2015 | One Comment

How Many Sins Can Jesus Take

And (once again) I know I’m going to hell for this one!

Major Major Disclaimer: Hey everyone, I’m Jewish. Not in any way shape or form a Christian…although I do think that many times I’m more “Christian” than many folks who do call themselves Christians.  Those would be the folks who wage war, kill, have turned

Getting High On Religious Freedom

Getting High On Religious Freedom

Posted by: on Apr 3, 2015 | One Comment

Getting High On Religious Freedom

You had to know this was coming or at least you had to hope this was coming, just for the potential chaos. Personally, I thought it was going to be bunch of Rastafarians trying to pull this off but it looks like someone beat them to it. Indiana’s Freedom of Religion Act has given rise to a new church – The First Church of Cannabis, Inc.