Lew Gertz
B'nai Israel



Everyone knows this Passover song: DAYENU – It would have (or would be) enough! This is what my bar-mitzvah rabbi, Harry Kaufman from Beth Sholom in D.C., taught us 60 years ago: no matter what you do to show you are a Jew, as long as you DO SOMETHING, DAYENU!


I was born and raised in D.C; my grandfather was a founding trustee of Beth Sholom and my parents were the first to be married at the new shul on 8th and Shepherd NW in 1938 (at least that’s what they told me). My Hebrew schooling began at B’nai Israel but ended at Beth Sholom when we moved two blocks from the shul. My dayenu moments began there when, after my bar mitzvah, I attended Sunday morning Minyanaires where I learned to daven, put on tefillin and lead the service. My proudest accomplishment, after my bar mitzvah, was my perfect attendance on Sunday mornings for five years! 


Even though we belonged to an orthodox synagogue we were considered “secular” Jews, going to services only on the High Holydays and only putting on tefillin on the occasion of my father’s passing in 1976 and then on my mother’s death in 2002, but deep down I knew there had to be more; however, being in the retail and then wholesale liquor industry, Shabbat services were out of the question.


Our family’s affiliation with B’nai began in the early 80s when Lynn and I enrolled our two children in Talmud Torah where they achieved their B’nai Mitzvah, continuing on to confirmation and even marriage. Rabbis Schnitzer and Safra were mentors to our daughter-in-law’s conversion process, enabling her to be married as a Jew. My “re-introduction” to Jewish practice gradually began to take shape then and when I attended the Men’s Club Worldwide Wrap, leading me to become a Sunday morning regular AGAIN! I retired in 2013 and made the commitment to attend Shabbat services which then led to becoming a regular attendee on most weekday mornings. I became involved in many B’nai committees and was elected to the Board of Governors in 2018, currently serving in my third term on the BOG and second term on the Executive Committee as co-president of the Men’s Club.


I would like to thank, first and foremost, my wife Lynn for being there and encouraging me during my “Dayenu” journey to where I am today; my children Melissa Bernstein, Robbie and their spouses Darren and Sharon for understanding what’s important to me, and to the B’nai clergy for the inspiration and encouragement to continue to achieve. This is a very humble moment for me, realizing that my name will rest with all of the other Simchas Torah honorees past, future and present: Judy Saks, I am honored to be sharing this award with you. You have been a true role model and mentor to me, and I thank you!


Continue to achieve – this is the goal I’ve set for myself and I am confident there will be many more DAYENU moments for me at B’nai Israel.

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