Robert "Bob" Zeitsiff z"l (1921 - 2010)
Founding Member and First President of the Brotherhood of Temple Israel of Sharon
Remarks at Robert Zeitsiff's Funeral
November 28, 2010
I come here to celebrate Bob Zeitsiff's life. In our family, he was known as Uncle Bob. That started when Bob told Robin, who did not have much family, that he adopted her as his "niece." Uncle Bob then fell in love with Marcia and adopted her as his niece also. There was no question who would be one of our two witnesses at our wedding to sign our Kettubah, Uncle Bob.
Bob had many, many fine qualities. Bob was a lighting expert and a craftsman. You can see his work at Temple Israel with those beautiful, large hanging lights in the sanctuary. His most recent accomplishment was when he restored a very large chandelier at Provincetown Town Hall, a contract he won in a national contest. I can't wait to get to Provincetown to see Bob's magnificent work. Marcia and I are very fortunate to have some attractive lights that Bob fabricated for us in our kitchen. I love those lights. I will look them from now on, think of Bob and smile.
Bob founded the Temple Israel Brotherhood 33 years ago. He told me that initially there were people in the Temple who opposed the creation of a Brotherhood. The opposition only strengthened Bob's resolve. All of you know Bob's way of doing things. He had a quiet determination that eventually led to him carrying the day and start the Temple Israel Brotherhood. Yes, this is the Brotherhood that has won the National Federation of Men's Club's award twice consecutively as the International best club. Yes, Bob's quiet determination made it happen. I guess he knew what he was doing 33 years ago.
Bob could tell stories. He had many fascinating stories and he knew how to tell a good story. Bob drew you into his story regardless if it was a story about his father in Russia or how he got into the lighting business. As he told his story, he would really get into it and sort of entertain himself. He would remember a detail that would make himself laugh. I can still hear him chuckle.
Yes, Bob could tell a story even if it was my expense. Right before I got married to Marcia, Rob Rubin arranged a dinner for a dozen of my friends. The theme for the evening was simple- roast Elliot. We went around the room and everyone told Elliot stories each one making me look worse than the story before. Then it was Bob's turn. I really thought that I was finally going to get a break. After all, this was Uncle Bob. Boy was I wrong! Bob in his quiet, great story telling style tore me apart. It started with Elliot's talents with power tools and went downhill from there. Bob, by far, was the funniest of all the guys in the room. There were tears in our eyes from laughing. He knocked us all on our rears because no one expected sweet Bob Zeitsiff to have so much fun in ripping Elliot apart. I am so glad that I will always have that memory of him for the rest of my life.
Bob was a mensch's mensch. Morey Waltuck put it quite well. Somehow he taught us all lessons without really trying. Just how he did things were powerful guides in how we should lead our lives. Not many people know it but he had a serious vision problem. As many of you know, I work with people who have lost vision. Bob was truly inspirational in how he dealt with his vision loss. I can only recall a very few patients we have worked with who accepted and dealt with their vision loss as Bob had done. In Bob style, he never complained; he just did what he had to do to get things done. When he needed to read or look at lighting plans, he simply powered up his video magnifier. He loved to lead the services on Sunday mornings which clearly became much more difficult when he developed his vision problem. Bob did not complain or stop leading prayers. Instead he took the time to take each page from the prayer book and enlarge it to 8.5 by 11. He then placed a big gold star next to the section where the leader reads his or her part aloud. Then he took the pages and inserted them into plastic protectors which he then placed into a three ring binder. When he was called up to lead the prayers, he would take his three ring binder with the enlarged pages to the front table with him and lead the services. I am not even sure that people in the back ever noticed anything different. Bob did not complain. He simply decided that he wanted to do something and figured out a way to get it done.
In the Jewish tradition, the highest form of charity is anonymous giving. I know for a fact that Bob was very good to the Temple and a number of other causes. Yet no one knew it. He never would make a contribution to get the personal credit. Bob just knew that it was the right thing to do.
Bob did once teach me a direct lesson in being a mensch. Someone we both knew in the congregation had developed a vision loss and was struggling in their ability to do everyday things. Bob, in a casual conversation, said gee Elliot why don't you call our mutual friend and see if you can help. My immediate reaction to Bob's suggestion was why didn't I think to do that on my own. I did call our friend and did what I could to help make things easier for him. Thank you, Bob for trying to teach me to be a mensch.
It is obvious that I loved Bob more than a friend. He really was part of our family. I guess I have to end by saying that Bob was the kindest most decent person that I ever met in my life. It is my hope that I will meet someone who is the kind of person Bob was yet again in my life. I doubt that I ever will. Bob was a uniquely kind person who touched many lives. I offer condolences to all of us for our loss. There will be an unfillable void in our lives. Bob is gone now forever. May the memory of his good deeds inspire all of us to be better people.
Bob, you are now with Charlotte.
- Elliot Feldman