I just learned that our dear friend and great leader, Lester Rosenberg, passed away in his sleep last night after contracting pneumonia. He will be missed so much not only by Norma, Steve and Lee, his daughters-in-law and grandchildren, but by every one of us who knew him and loved him so dearly.
It was just in the last few weeks that my wife, Bobbi, and I were invited by Carolyn and Steve Nasatir to join them with Norma and Lester for dinner. We had a beautiful evening as I watched the love that so many in the country club dining room shared with us for him. We are in Steve's and Carolyn's debt for affording us the opportunity to be with the Rosenbergs that night. He loved people; he had a remarkable capacity, typical of all great leaders, of extending his arms to embrace all those with whom he came in contact. He made certain that no one was a stranger to him. Next week the annual Chicago Prime Minister's Mission will depart. Lester loved those Missions; he loved the camaraderie, the shared passion; the good humor; the laughs and tears. His leadership, always present, bloomed like a beautiful flower on those missions. I am so honored to have shared some of them with Norma and Lester.
Norma, Lester's beloved partner and fierce protector since the catastrophic accident that, even after what appeared to be a recovery in all ways but physical, that took Lester's life, assured that Lester experienced as much of life and his family's love as he possibly could. Over the years that Lester and I sat together, traveled together, his love of his mishpacha was everything, his pride in his boys, his men, manifest. He gloried in their achievements as the proudest of fathers, was devoted to his daughters-in-law and his grandchildren.
And in his love of his extended family -- our community, the Israel Tennis Centers, UIA, JAFI and JFNA -- he glowed with pride as he attended our Federation Board meetings over the past months by phone and, as he told Beth Cherner, his professional partner, the Campaign Director of our Jewish United Fund, and dear friend, the happiest day of life post-accident was his attendance just two weeks ago at our Jewish Federation Annual Meeting -- the last opportunity I had to share a kiss and a moment together.
Lester's passing is a great loss but our memories are full of wonderful moments together, memories of a gentle leader, of a man with a fierce passion for all things community, and one who loved his/our Israel. This is our z'man simchateinu, and while it is a day now tinged with sadness, let us all remember the joy and courage with which Lester Rosenberg lived his life...and let our memories of Lester inspire all of us.