You can change your name, you can change your identity, but you’re still Jewish

Alan J. Schwarz
9 min readMar 1, 2024

It’s all about the decisions you make

Image by Tom Gordon from Pixabay

Harry Karp was very active in the Lonsdale Synagogue. Lonsdale was in the middle of nowhere and had a population of six thousand people, thirty of them were Jewish.

Harry was the President of the ‘’Star of David’’ Synagogue. He made sure that every Saturday ten Jewish men showed up to pray so a minyan (or quorum) could happen. Harry thought it was vital as some of the people needed to say Mourner’s prayer and without ten men, the Orthodox service couldn’t take place.

The Synagogue functioned smoothly. One morning, Harry (who owed two car dealerships) was sitting at his desk, ordering kosher food for a Bar Mitzvah when he had a massive and fatal heart attack.

The community was disconsolate and so were the residents of Lonsdale. They came out in force for his funeral. The closest place for a proper Jewish funeral and a cemetery was in Syracuse, New York. It was a three hour drive from Lonsdale but people made the trip.

At the funeral, Harry’s wife Alice and her two sons spoke beautifully about a man who was a tremendous husband and father. The Rabbi (Rabbi Kutziner) of the Star of David Synagogue gave one of the nicest obituary’s that any person could ever be given. He called Harry a Tzaddik or Righteous Man.

After the week of shiva (mourning) at Harry’s house (he always had ten men for morning and evening services and would have been proud) the community tried to rearrange things and figure out how best to proceed. Harry’s sons, Mark and Ron showed no interest in involvement with the Synagogue.

Slowly the community moved forward but something was missing. There wasn’t the same number of minyans and soon there were concern that the Rabbi’s wages were becoming a burden that the community could no longer afford. Nobody knew Harry had been subsidizing the Rabbi’s wages all the years he was President. Nobody wanted to take over that responsibility or fill the void.

Alice (Harry’s wife) received a serious offer from a New York businessman for Harry’s car dealerships. She reluctantly sold out and moved to Toronto where her Sister was located.

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Alan J. Schwarz

Alan Schwarz loves life. He is the founder of JAMS Productions, a television production company based in Toronto . His passion is writing.