Thursday, May 28, 2015


See below the remarks given by Joan Weisman last night as the first Fred Weisman Tikkun Olam was given out to Ken and Amy Temple.  Fred passed away just a few months ago.  Such a fitting tribute to a great man. Below is a photo of myself with Joan and Fred at the 1996 Purim Comedy Night - one of the many programs inspired by this wonderful couple.

May 27, 2015

I am  overwhelmingly honored that an annual award recognizing outstanding volunteerism has been established in Memory of my beloved Fred.  He would be so happy to know that others will pick up the ball and run with it now that he can no longer do it himself.  He would also want you to know that he  totally enjoyed the game, the good people he worked with and the goals he attained.
Needless to say, the past couple of months since Fred passed away have been a sad and reflective time for me.  Learning that others recognize  the mark he left in the world is helping me in the healing process and I thank you for giving me this opportunity to speak about him . 
Shortly after Fred's passing there was an article in the NY Times that called out to me.  It was entitled:  The Moral Bucket List.   David Brooks wrote about  two sets of virtues, the résumé virtues and the eulogy virtues. The résumé virtues are the skills you bring to the marketplace. The eulogy virtues are the ones that are talked about at your funeral — whether you were kind, brave, honest, and really cared  about making the world a better place?
At about that time, a dear friend referred to Fred as having possessed “a moral compass”.  It got me to thinking about how much one  man, my Fred, tried to make a difference in this crazy world without an iota of cynicism.  He truly believed the Star Fish Story…you may not be able to save the world but you can save one person at a time.  Similar words I believe that Hillel spoke:  If you save one person, it is as if you saved the world.  His moral compass drove him in so many different directions:  Humanitarian services, health care, the arts, community service, philanthropy, youth activities, education and of course family love and responsibility were never sacrificed.   I was asked to share Fred's most notable accomplishments with you to enable you to understand the spirit of the award and the man for which it is named.  So here goes.
He served  on the AmeriCares Board for 13 years  to relieve suffering throughout the world, served on Temple Boards, presided over the Science Education Center and The Pacific House Mens Homeless Shelter, made  homes safe warm and dry with HomeFront,  Helped feed and house the poor, read to young children every week for years in the Reading Partners’ Program, mentored kids on science and ecology,  lead Odyssey of the Mind youngsters to winning State Championships,  lead a Scout Troop for 13 years, coached Little League and Junior Achievement, traveled with Healing the Children and AmeriCares on  missions throughout the world, spent a week with AmeriCares in Freshkill after 9/11, bought a mobile medical clinic for AmeriCares’ Free Clinic and provided funds for the Weisman Free Clinic in Bridgeport. He established a college scholarship for minority students studying to be teachers of science, technology, engineering or math.  sponsored annual symphony concerts and built sets in a local theater,   In addition, he served as an elected official on the land use commission in Brookfield for many years. 
About now, you must be wondering whether he had 48 hours in each day, required no sleep or had super human powers.  We won't ever know, but maybe wearing his Superman or Mickey Mouse shirts really did work.  In spite of being a cancer survivor for 20 years and told he had only six months to live on at least two occasions, he was always happy.   He would often exclaim that the reason he did for others was because he was the luckiest man alive and because of his good fortune wanted to share with others.  He truly felt that he was given extra years because he hadn't yet done enough to save the world. 
I recently found the words Fred spoke just last year as he was honored by the Pacific House Homeless Shelter in Stamford with the Rays of Hope Award.  “It has been extremely gratifying to return to Stamford after a 20 year absence to find Beth El continuing what Joan and I had started at Beth El Cares.  We thank you all for giving meaning to the old adage “that those who can, must do”  There are many needy throughout the world but we must not forget the needs of those in our own backyard. "
I think the  most important question that we can ask ourselves as we think about The Fred Weisman Memorial Tikon Olam Award is what each of us can do to repair the world, how we can pay it forward in even a very small way.  How each of us can find and follow our own moral compass as Fred followed his.  How we can pass on the value of tzeduka to our children and grandchildren.   I hope that all I have shared with you about my dear Fred will not be perceived as bragging but an opportunity to see how possible it is for anyone to make the world a better place. 
We will all miss Fred's energy, his love of life and his good deeds but hopefully, his spirit will inspire all of us to perform deeds of kindness and there will always be worthy recipients of this award.  Fred would say about now, It's time for less talking and more doing....
So It is my pleasure  to invite Amy and Ken Temple to come up so that I may  present them with the first Annual Fred Weisman Tikkun Olam Memorial Award. 
Amy and Ken, you have lead Beth El Cares far beyond what we could have hoped for when we founded it over 30 years ago.   For the past four years, you have been the stewards behind the Homeless Shelter Dinners, High Holiday and Passover Food Drives and many other caring activities.  Ken, you also serve on the Board of Directors of the Temple and Amy you have chaired the Temple Annual Purim Carnivals.  You are a couple that embodies the spirit of Tikkun Olam and Fred would be proud to know that you are being honored.   I wish you many more years of joy in serving the community and carrying out the values that this award conveys.

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