Art Perlman

Art Perlman was a fun-loving man with a ready smile and a great sense of humor. I could count on and looked forward to seeing him, Judy, Hal, Eddie and Joel every Shabbat Eve except when he was out of town.

He was a proud Jew and so proud of his boys. He and Judy made certain that they not only “went to Hebrew school,” but that they lived active Jewish lives. He relished his family “stats:’  Hal’s was one of the earliest B’nai Mitzvah ceremonies I conducted at TI, and he was the very first person for whom I officiated at his Bar Mitzvah, Confirmation and wedding.

Art also took pride in the fact that his was my first “hat trick family”.  Because I played ice hockey in high school and college where scoring three goals in one game was known as a “hat trick,” I began and continued throughout my career, the practice of giving either a hat, creatively decorated by Vickie, or individual hats to each member of a family when the family celebrated the third of three B’nai Mitzvah for their children. 

Joel’s Bar Mitzvah became the first occasion at which a family celebrated a Temple Isaiah hat trick, and I can still see Art’s beaming face when it happened.

When Judy, like her three sons read from the Torah and Haftarah, spoke beautifully, answered the rabbi’s tough questions and masterfully taught the congregation at her Adult Bat Mitzvah Ceremony, the Perlmans became not only a hat trick family, but our first “Grand Slam,” a four B’nai Mitzvah family. Art could not have been prouder.

Art Perlman was a salesman by profession, and he had an uncanny knack for making his customers feel important.  On Friday nights, he made me feel like I was his most important customer. Each week I could count on a personal greeting, a warm smile and eyes that locked right into mine when he spoke to me. After services, he would either reflect on or ask a question about the Torah portion or my sermon. He never failed to make me feel like my efforts were important and that they mattered to him.

Looking back over the many years since I was his rabbi, I have often felt, “If every rabbi had at least one congregant like Art Perlman our sacred calling would become easier to follow.”

In my mind’s eyes, Art Perlman remains forever young.  His eyes continue to twinkle, his smile is ever bright, and his memory continues to bless me.

Amen

November 19, 2021

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