In Memory of Uncle Freddy

Just a few words in memory of your beloved husband, father, grandfather, great-grandfather and uncle, Fred (Efraim) Berger.

Like Moshe Ginsburg, my first memory of my Uncle Freddy was his wedding to Irene, March 4, 1956. Yes, I was four days shy of my third birthday, but I remember the beautiful event clearly. The highlight was seeing my father Albert – Uncle Freddy’s older brother – walk down the aisle in a tuxedo as the best man, and my shouting, “That’s my daddy!” But you will understand why that would be the wedding highlight for a little girl! The simcha was the most marvelous event I could imagine, and, as the nieces, Rhonda and I – in our matching dresses – were treated like honored guests, like princesses. Everyone was full of joy that day.

Berger Family  (4)

Wedding of Irene and Fred Berger

Starting with that simcha, I always think of happiness when thinking of Uncle Freddy (my father called him Freddy his whole life, so that is how I think of him – Freddy, not Fred or Efraim). I think of happiness, and learning.

Because my second cherished memory was of learning with him. We were sitting at a table together, and he was drawing diagrams of plants. “Is the tomato a vegetable, or a fruit?” I was only six or seven, but Uncle Freddy helped me understand the technicalities of botany and how they dictate the proper barucha for a tomato. I was impressed with his knowledge and appreciated his taking me into his confidence, teaching me these fine distinctions which I was sure he alone was privy to.

Uncle Fred always seemed to have joy in his heart when I saw him, even the last years when his health was no longer strong. He never complained about his health or circumstances when I saw him, even if he was in a hospital bed at the time. Instead, he took the opportunity to help me understand things, and raise up my spirits, whatever the conditions. In fact, in these quiet visits, one-on-one the last few years especially, we grew closer than ever before. He used the time wisely, to tell me more about my father, and teach me how important family is. It was an honor to feel taken into his confidence – again – as he shared the wisdom gained from a long life lived devoted to his family and to performing mitzvah.

As Moshe said, Uncle Fred’s legacy – the wonderful family he served as patriarch to – speaks to his merit more than any words can point to. With his devoted wife, Irene, he raised my cousins who I respect and trust implicitly and love like siblings – and they in turn have raised their children to follow in their parents’ path. I will always remember Uncle Fred being there for me when my own parents were ill; how Uncle Fred and the rest of his family were there for us in every possible way. The three siblings – Helen, Albert and Fred – always helped and supported each other, their own parents, and their nieces and nephews like their own children, and set that fine example for the rest of us.

Thank you, Uncle Freddy, for bringing such joy, learning and mitzvah into the world.

Barbara E. Berger
4 Shvat 5776, January 14, 2016

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About B. E. Berger

Making life better by sharing stories and pictures.
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