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Mazel Tov Sam Block on 100 Years

SamBlockBy Jan Seeley, Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf

I have long felt that our society tends to over-shower the younger generation with too much attention and fuss while our elders are pushed aside and disregarded. It is a national disgrace. I suppose this is nature’s way, but I find my most memorable and fascinating conversations are with the elders. My grandmother was the most revered woman in my life for a very good reason—her age endowed her with wisdom, but sadly popular culture has devalued wisdom and replaced it with speed and material goods.

TBS celebrates our friend and past member, Sam Block for his 100th birthday on July 26th. Imagine having 100 years of wisdom to share!

Sam’s journey began a little bumpy in Harlem, New York, when at the age of six he contracted a near fatal case of Spinal Meningitis that left him deaf. But his deafness did not even begin to slow him down.

All of Sam’s school years were spent in Manhattan, and most of his working life was spent at the U.S Railroad Retirement Board, starting as a statistical clerk and rising to the position of Director of Research, retiring in 1973. His ascension to this position was his second greatest accomplishment in life, also recognized by Gallaudet University with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree.

He married Frieda, January 12, 1941 in the Grand Concourse Hotel in the Bronx—he vows this was his greatest accomplishment. They had four wonderful sons: Michael, David, Joel and Philip who Sam proudly states: “Take care of their deaf father as he ages.”

Sam had no formal Jewish upbringing but accompanied his parents when they went to synagogue for the holidays and he trained for his Bar Mitzvah with a local retired rabbi. When he came to California he became a member of TBS, attending Shabbat services, serving on the Board of Directors and helping with convention planning.

In addition to all the amazing technological advances he has seen over his 100 years, Sam views the successful lunar landing as the most significant event in his lifetime, opening the way to exploration of space and the possible future settlement on other planets.
 
Sam has a very wise world-view and his philosophy encompasses the simple but powerful concepts of peace, love and help. Peace:  He feels that much more must be done to educate the world’s population to realize that war is never the answer to our problems of living. Help:  He has always had a great desire to use his faculties to assist other deaf people to attain better positions in their own working lives and cautions those who would penalize them by assuming that their deafness makes them inferior. He would like to be remembered as a person willing to go out of his way to help others and I am sure there are many people out there who were the beneficiaries of his care and can attest to this. Love: “Love has carried me to this moment in time”

Sam began writing poetry in his pre-teens, writing childish stuff at first, but then as he matured, his poetry also matured and his poetry became more meaningful as shown in his poem below about TBS.

Mazel Tov, Sam and may you follow in Moses’ footsteps and live to be 120.

Temple Beth Solomon
A place where deaf Jews through hands and fingers
Can freely and devoutly address their God,
And learning of their past and how their blood
Survived to carry on their faith that lingers,
Whatever cruelties and hardships are applied,
When a vindictive foe seeks holocaust,
and fails before the power of belief inherent
Against millions forming a soulless deterrent.

We here though small in numbers have survived
Despite our losses due to age and death,
Promising to stay until the end.
We are happy that Jews have their own country,
Though still beset by foes on every hand,
But no longer facing genocide.

Samuel Block
June 11, 2010

Reprinted from July/August 2010 issue of 'Congregation News', a publication of Temple Beth Solomon of the Deaf, PO Box 33396 Granada Hills CA 91394-3396, http://www.tbsdeafjewish.org/

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