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Rosh Hashanah 2021: In Loving Memory of Alan Garshon

The Jewish New Year begins tonight at sundown and some personal thoughts on family, death, and the loss of a giant.

Rosh Hashanah Table Setting

Monday night is the beginning of the Jewish New Year (5782) and I must confess to feeling unusually uneasy and sad as our month of reflection, atonement, and celebration begins. I am one of those who spends time in Shul and inside my Sukkah over the next 4 weeks and while that doesn’t make me anything more than “observant” — it’s something that holds great meaning for me.

The COVID-19 pandemic has been hard on all of us; regardless of what you believe, who you love, which G-d you believe in, or which side of the political aisle you find yourself.

Shofar man

Use this time as a human being to be better; towards everyone even if you find it difficult. 30 people perished this week in the Garden State from the remnants of Hurricane Ida and New Jersey took in our first group of Afghan refugees. In a few short hours, we experienced tremendous loss and a second opportunity for a better life.

As a Jew, I find the growing levels of anti-Semitism in daily life and online to be quite disconcerting and frightening; there is nothing more irrational and intellectually dishonest than anti-Semitism and the almost sociopathic hatred of Israel that exists in academia and our media. Social media (and online forums) is a cesspool of hatred.

As the grandson of Holocaust survivors and Irgun members, I look at the world around me with real concern and a genuine understanding of history.

The next time you feel the urge to tell the world how much you hate us, Israel, and how we contribute nothing to world — take a deep breath (and maybe hold it in some cases) and remind yourself that we invented the technology and app you’re using to tweet your racist garbage.

Remind yourself that the turntable you’re using (Linn or VPI), amplifier you are listening to (Marantz, Mark Levinson, Coincident, Lamm Industries), or the loudspeaker you are setting up (Magico, Gershman, Morel) — were all created by Jews.

The next time you spin Leonard Cohen, Ofra Haza, Bob Dylan, Geddy Lee, Irving Berlin, Neil Diamond, Donald Fagen, Mark Knopfler, Lou Reed, Leonard Bernstein, Aaron Copland, Beastie Boys, KISS, Béla Fleck, or Mahler — remember to check your woke anti-Semitism at the door.

Alan Garshon would have taken me aside and told me to laugh more and ignore all of the haters. And pass that plate of Chinese food.

Alan Garshon Holding Fish in North Lauderdale, FL
Alan Garshon

COVID-19 took one of the best people I’ve ever known on Thursday and his passing has hit all who loved him very hard.

Alan wasn’t a blood relative but he was an integral part of my family for over 54 years; he first met my parents in 1967 and my ugly face when I was born in 1970.

Alan, Paul, Susan, and Reba were the people I longed to see the most at every Simcha or New Year’s party for the simple reason that they brought laughter and joy with them.

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Alan and Paul were the best comedy duo to ever come out of Ontario and the older I became, the more I realized how inappropriate their humor was — and just how necessary it was as a way of forgetting about all of the other shit that we have to deal with in our daily lives.

A kinder, sweeter, more decent human being did not exist. Alan knew how to make a room full of strangers or family fall apart with laughter and then put his arm around you (while stealing your car keys) and make it all feel less humiliating that you were the butt of the joke.

There was not a malicious bone in his body and he cared deeply about his family and friends. His community in Florida has lost one of the great ones. His family lost an incredible husband, father, Zaida, and brother.

Fishing was his thing and making all of us realize that life is way too short not to laugh and make fun of the absurdity of it all.

He was the kind of person who would meet a girl I was dating at some family event and ask her 20 questions — mostly to find out if I should run or if she required medical help because what kind of person would date me.

I would hide in the bathroom laughing so hard against the door that I couldn’t come out. Alan and Paul would turn to me with their devilish smiles and let me know that we needed to talk in private because “she’s way too good for you,” or “do you need money for a bus ticket…if you run now…you might be okay.”

Susan and Reba would pretend to be angry at their husbands while trying not to be so obvious that they were laughing so hard that they needed to go outside and fall over one another in hysterics.

I remember being so excited to show Alan (his son, Jeff, is a fellow audiophile) one of my first high-end stereo systems when I was still living at home and his response provided some needed perspective and levity.

“It’s very nice. Don’t bring any girls down here. They’ll run the moment you mention what you paid.”

Thank you Mom and Dad for bringing these amazing people into my life.

This Rosh Hashanah will feel very empty without Alan Garshon in the world but I will always feel very grateful that he was part of my life.

Baruch Dayan HaEmet Alan. Leave some fish for the rest of us.

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Shana Tovah and wishing all of our readers a healthy, happy, and sweet New Year.

Ian White

1 Comment

1 Comment

  1. Shalom Pinchas

    September 6, 2021 at 10:47 pm

    As a fellow Etzel supporter may I ask have you seen the IBA documentary about Menachem Beigin’s life “from Brisk to Jerusalem”? If not may I send you a deleted copy? It’s free – in the interest of truth.

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