Eulogy for Judy Grossbard, z”l
Delivered Sunday, October 12, 2014
When I moved to the northern suburbs of Chicago in 2010, one of the first people I met was Judy Grossbard. I immediately gravitated to her, since I knew I found a passionate Jewish Educator. I was blessed to be a shared member of a teaching team with Judy for two years before she was diagnosed with ALS. I was absolutely blown away by the tremendous detail she put into every project; every lesson. She loved teaching. She loved learning from her students. She loved making the learning meaningful for her students. I have never ever seen a Purim Carnival more thought out in detail with every single “I” dotted and “t” crossed than the ones that Judy orchestrated at my synagogue, Am Yisrael.
I will never forget going to my first Jewish Educators Assembly Conference in Jan. 2011. Judy knew everyone and the bonds were so strong. It inspired me to get involved with this organization and led to my becoming a national board member and regional president. One of the best professional development moves of my career.
In May of 2012, Judy got the diagnosis at the Mayo Clinic and this was so heartbreaking for me. As the “thief” kept taking pieces of Judy away from us, Judy fought this terrible disease with ever fiber of her soul. When Judy could no longer teach, she became the head of our teacher resource center at Am Yisrael School of Jewish Studies and completely reorganized the Teacher Resource Area in our school and met with teachers to give them gems of ideas. She and I came up with all kinds of projects for the school with her writing page after page and me responding verbally.
I am thankful that I became a part of Judy inner circle of friends. When I helped her travel to Dallas to receive the Or Zarua award that Eddie referred to in his tribute, I served as Judy’s mouthpiece at security at the airport and during the seminars at the conference. While Judy couldn’t talk, her mind was sharp as a tack. The words we shared were powerful and Judy received a standing ovation by her colleagues. I think that moment will remain ingrained in my mind forever. The smile on her face was absolutely priceless. There wasn’t a dry eye in the house.
I would just like to close by saying last November we initiated the Judy Grossbard Jewish Reading Challenge in honor of Jewish book month. The child in each grade in our School of Jewish Studies who read the most minutes of Jewish-themed books had tzedakah money donated in his or her name by one of our Bat Mitzvah students. The money went both to the Jewish Educators Assembly and the Les Turner ALS Foundation. These two organizations were near and dear to Judy’s heart. Judy attended the program at the conclusion of the reading challenge and as I had seen her do at our faculty meetings, the Or Zarua Award ceremony and the Passover seder that she ran with Tracy, the voice on her iPad, Judy got up on our bimah and delivered a beautiful speech thanking all of the students for taking part in her passions: Jewish learning and reading. This November, we will have the second Annual Judy Grossbard Jewish Reading Challenge and I know that Judy will be with us in spirit.
I will forever remember Judy as one of my heroes in this world. While Judy was dealt everyone’s worst nightmare, she faced it with courage, determination and lived every day the best she could. Thank you for your friendship Judy. Thank you for teaching us to appreciate what we have. You battled this disease long enough and deserve to rest in peace, dear friend. Your memory will always be a blessing.