Jack Boshak

(In loving memory)

“Sunrise, sunset.” How quickly in retrospect the years have passed.

Jack was the brother I never had.  I was 15 when we met, and he took me under his wing.  He taught me a lot about how to act around girls, and I credit his tutelage for refining my approach enough that – years later — I could attract and win the love of someone as wonderful as Vickie.

When I first met him, I thought his name was French and would be spelled Jacques Beaushaque. It did not take me long to realize that the straightforward American way, Jack Boshak, far better suited his personality and character.

When “Chelle met Jack, her whole life changed. Almost from that day to this her life revolved around him. I marvel at the way she anticipated and took care of his every need. In turn his love for her knew no bounds through 57 years of marriage, laden with so much happiness, and yes, some tears. Most notably, Jack and ‘Chelle shared with Leah and Scott the searing pain of the death of their son Simon.

From a very young age, Jack knew the value of hard work. From selling Good Humor Ice Cream on Rockaway Beach on torrid summer days to his “business ventures” like those absurd pedal cars in the garage and the Heidi Vending machines, which he thought every candy store in New Jersey should have. I still remember visiting some of those stores with him.

Jack graduated from Rider College and passed his CPA exam on the first try.  No mean feat! 

He was a mathematical whiz, and I always marveled at his facility with numbers. I thought of him as a human calculator.

And he was a marvelous accountant.  Jack was fiercely independent; I could never imagine him being happy working for anyone else. Jack was a no-frills CPA, as symbolized by what I liked to call the “Boshak Building” that once housed his office on Route 9.

Jack had a gruff exterior — and God help you if you were a client who missed an appointment — but his heart was as tender as that of anyone I have ever known.

When Jack and ‘Chelle married I was 18, and they honored me by inviting me to be Head Usher at their wedding.  I should have been thrilled, but I was 18, immature and stupid. I thought I should be Best Man even though Jack’s older brother Howie, of blessed memory, was appropriately accorded that honor. But Jack went the extra mile to soothe my feelings and made us “co best men.”  He always had my back.

One of the very worst days of my life occurred 50 years ago when, while studying in Jerusalem, I got the news in the middle of the night that our father had died. The long flight home from Israel was exhausting and excruciatingly sad. But I still remember how the cloud began to lift when I saw Jackie waiting to greet me at Newark Airport.  I can’t describe how, but just seeing him made me feel better.

Jack’s character is best reflected through the prism of his four wonderful daughters. They are each so different. Yet Jack nurtured and understood each of them according to their unique personalities and needs.

Jack was a very proud Jew. It was who he was, and he and Rochelle infused that essence into the souls of Toby, Heather, Leah and Danna.  His daughters’ B’not Mitzvah were high points in his life.  Instead of a fancy celebration he and ‘Chelle gifted each daughter with an unforgettable trip to Israel with just her parents following her Bat Mitzvah.

A few sunrises later Paul, K. Paul and Scott became his sons.  His grandchildren, Libby, Sadye, Jocelyn, Maya, Eli, Liam and Felix were his delight. His crowning glory was the privilege and the blessing to share the joy of all of their B’nai Mitzvah celebrations. I can still see his beaming face and the tears of joy that streamed from it as he sat in the front of the three sanctuaries where these seven ceremonies took place.

Jack loved the fact that his daughters and their families remained close by as adults. Oh, it did not thrill him last year when Danna moved so far away from the family compound on Tuscarora Circle to study the behavior of large apes.  But it gave him comfort that his baby had found an outlet for her formidable intellect and considerable talents about which she is passionate. 

After these last few years of declining health, the sun has set for the last time on Jackie’s earthly journey. As a brother I worry about what will happen to Rochelle whose soul has been bound up with his for nearly sixty years. 

But I also know – for longer than anyone – how strong my sister is and that — strengthened by her wonderful daughters, sons in law and seven amazing grandchildren — she will endure. Yes, I know she will endure just as Jackie’s memory will endure in all of our hearts, for a blessing.


9 thoughts on “Jack Boshak

    1. What a beautiful, loving tribute to your beloved brother-in-law, Jack, Rabbi. Your admiration toward him and your devotion to him were palpable in your heartfelt words.
      So clearly you described the deep love that Jack shared with your dear sister, Rochelle for almost sixty years, and the pride and love he felt for each of their four daughters, their sons-in-law, and their grandchildren. How grateful and blessed he felt to live to celebrate the Bar or Bat Mitzvah of each grandchild.
      I can only imagine your intense feeling of loss at this very sad time, Rabbi. We send our love and condolences to Vickie and you and to all of your family.
      May this wonderful man who you cherished Rest In Peace, and May his memory be a blessing.


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