Herbert Berman, August 19, 1933 – July 6, 2014

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I was a member of the Community School Board of District 18 from 1972 to 1992. One of my colleagues was Rabbi Joseph Frankel from East Flatbush. I learned and will always remember that when someone like Rabbi Frankel talks it is very important to listen.

I learned a lot by doing just that.

So much of his wisdom is still with me and as a dad, a grandfather, and friend, I often pass it along. For the past month I’ve been thinking about the time he told me that when you lose someone dear to you, after the tears are shed, it will help if you recall some of the happy moments that you spent with that person.

Last month, my dear friend, former Councilman Herb Berman passed away. To this day I swear that Herb’s goal in life was to have everyone in his district love him. I remember being with him on one Election Day when we closed a few polling places and jotted down the results. In one booth, of the 200 votes cast, Herbet E. Berman received 180. He was visibly upset that 20 of his neighbors did not vote for him.

“I wonder what I did wrong that some of my neighbors don’t like me,” he asked me as he held back the tears. I laughed, but he was serious. Ninety percent of the vote wasn’t good enough. He wanted to be loved by everyone. Yes! He came very close.

Herb, his wife Fran, my wife Carol and I spent a lot of time together dining, traveling, and laughing — but especially laughing. You name it, the four of us were there together.

I spoke to my dear friend Herb about two months ago and we laughed as we reminisced about the time two soldiers ordered us out of the famous Prado museum in Spain for “group jumping.” Right now you are asking yourself, “What is group jumping?”

As you entered the museum, for purposes of the tour, they took 25 to 30 people as they arrived and started one hour tours every few minutes. Herb and I were so bored with our tour that, in order to get through in a hurry, we jumped to the group ahead of us. After a few minutes, we moved on again. We did not know that everyone was being watched on closed circuit television. By the time we got to the fourth group two soldiers with rifles approached us and ordered us to follow them.

“Uh-oh Herb,” I said. “I think they’re gonna execute us.”

With that, my dear friend starting shouting at them. “Since when is group jumping a capital crime?”

We were taken outside and forbidden to re-enter. We were still laughing when our wives came out and made believe they didn’t know us.

The good councilman is now sitting in that great big diner in heaven. I am looking up and shouting, “Hey Herb! Save me a seat!”

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Updated 11:48 am, January 16, 2019
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