Burt Slossberg – 2017

So last Thursday night, I had a dream. I dream every night, and I rarely remember anything but little clips, but this one is as clear to me as all of you are to me right now. Burt and I are at some place that I don’t recognize, but it seems to be a summer place or carnival where people at different windows are selling different things. Burt looks great; he has his color, he’s at his regular weight, he’s healthy and vital. I’m buying Burt lunch, and he orders something, and I say, “Burt, you can’t have that when you’re with me. And besides, I’m buying.” And Burt gives me this smile; you know the smile I’m talking about, it’s his unique, happy, pleasant smile, and I realize that he ordered the chazarai just to bust my chops and get a reaction from me. We buy something appropriate, and then I start gabbing with Edie about grandchildren, and that’s all I can remember.

So I was all excited about my dream, because it meant to me that Burt was going to get better. I was a prophet and I had had a prophetic dream, so I go in to Sheryl the next day, and she says, “That’s a good dream, and now go tell my father about it because he’s pretty discouraged.” So I go to see Burt, and he listens, and he smiles, but it’s not the same smile that I was used to and it’s not the smile from my dream.

Obviously, sadly, my dream did not come true. It wasn’t prophetic; it was what psychology calls a “wish-fulfillment dream.” I wanted Burt to get well so much, so/very/much, that I was even dreaming about him feeling better. It’s what all of us were praying for and hoping for.

And so we’re here today to mourn the passing but also to honor the life of Burt Slossberg, beloved husband, father, brother, grandfather, and cherished friend.

He was born in Hartford on Feb 13, 1938 and he would die on February 13, 2017. He was the son of
Herman and Rachel. He grew up with his sister Selma and they would always be close. We are grateful that Selma’s son George could be with us today to represent her side of the family.

He graduated high school in 1956 and UCONN in 1960. He enlisted and served in the Army, National Guard. He earned his CPA degree in 63.

He joined the accounting firm of his father-in-law Herman and would work in various forms of that firm from 1974 until a month ago. He loved every minute of it. He loved helping people achieve financial stability and he guided them in all sorts of ways. He knew that what really counts cannot be counted.

The obituary said: “Burton H. Slossberg, 79, of Hamden CT passed away with his loving family by his side.” That was true. And I want to tell you something that the nurse who was at his deathbed said. After the family had left, she said that most of the time, she is with someone who dies alone, and that to see the love that his wife and children and grandchildren had for him made her very emotional, that without even knowing him, she could tell, from their faces and their tears, what a wonderful life this man had had.

Anyone who knows Edie knows that she’s a very smart, very insightful person. And in all of this, I have seen that Edie is not only smart and wise about other people, but also realistic and intelligent about herself. This quality will enable her to keep going. But the hard truth is that after all of these years of a wonderful marriage, everything now changes, every day will be different, and even Edie will need the support and love of her family and friends.

This is a very special family; they live life as a family. Since everyone lives in the area, the closeness, the constant interaction, is really something. David and Sheryl will speak for themselves, but anyone who knows them know how much they loved him and how much he loved them.
Burt never bragged about himself, but he bragged incessantly about his kids. He was so proud of them, every day.

He was a great campaigner for Gayle. He referred to her as ‘the Senator.” He would say, “Vote for my daughter” and when people heard that she was formally a daughter-in-law, that won their vote.

Marc and Burt loved each other, though Marc may have found playing golf with Burt a little interesting. Burt wasn’t great at everything; he was not a great golfer. But he had a good time playing with family and friends, which I think is the important part of golf, anyway.

He loved his 5 grandchildren, Jeremy, Rachel, Alex, Brett and Rebecca very much. He knew everything that was going on with each of them at all times and he had five different relationships. They weren’t just his grandchildren; they were Jeremy, Rachel, Alex, Brett and Rebecca.

The best conversations with Burt were always bantering about sports. I didn’t always appreciate his teasing about how the Giants had just beaten the valiant and skillful team from Washington, but we were together on UConn, his alma mater. I only went with him to a couple of UConn games; he invited me many other times when I couldn’t join him. I do know that I never went to a UConn game without spotting Burt, with a child or a grandchild or machatonim.

Burt did a lot in the community; he worked hard for the Jewish Home for Children; he started together with his mother-in-law Alice and continued long after she was gone.

He worked hard for this shul, especially with the High Holiday Pledge Campaign and the Endowment fund. This ceremony could only be here this morning; he was and is part of us.

I want to go back to my dream. In Judaism, there is the idea that some dreams are prophetic, some dreams are just junk, but some dreams are gifts if you know what to do with them. Maybe Jewish tradition was really on to something when it says that a dream can be a gift. The gift, for me, was the dream itself, that I have that visual of Burt before me and not the picture of him during these last couple of months or on Monday. And what I am hoping for Edie and the kids and the grandchildren is that all of you will get to the same point very soon, that you will only see Burt as he always was, smiling, happy, content, bantering, and into life.

Burt himself was the dream, as a husband, as a father, as a grandfather, as a friend. We all dream about someone like this, someone who loves with such commitment and such loyalty and such sacrifice, someone who is honest to his core, and giving in his very essence.

He was a righteous man. May he rest in peace. Let us say Amen.