‘Keep your eye on the ball’

‘Keep your eye on the ball’

One of the many lessons that I learned from a great man named Howard Rich, who was president of Daughters of Israel from 1993-96, was “Keep your eye on the ball.” When I  responded that my responsibilities at DOI were not exactly on par with a baseball game, he countered with a parallel statement, “You need to focus or you will never hit the ball.” What
Howard was obviously conveying is that you need to stay fully focused on your goal and let the obstacles remain on the sidelines.

Unfortunately, Howard Rich passed away Aug. 20 and the Jewish community of Greater Metro-West NJ lost a great leader, mentor, and friend.

As president of Daughters of Israel, his accomplishments were many. The first and now annual Fern Forman Memorial Golf Tournament was his brainchild. Today, it remains the largest
annual fund-raising event for the home.

He was the first person to kick off the Refurbishment Mural Project, which received national recognition and acclaim.

Under Howard’s tenure, as part of an effort to open up opportunities for minorities in geriatric care, a Health Careers Academy was launched in coordination with Irvington High School, with help from the Healthcare Foundation of NJ, the Grotta Foundation for Senior Care, and others. The program received national recognition. A few years later, building on the relationship with Newark Beth Israel, DOI implemented a Medical Fellowship Teaching Program.

Howard’s business acumen was incredibly sharp, and he began his official connection to DOI by serving on the finance committee of the board of governors. His negotiating skills developed the first comprehensive capital budget, which still exists today. Howard oversaw major construction and renovation projects, which were part of a $12 million expansion program.

I once asked Howard why he loved Daughters of Israel so much and he gave me two reasons. “It is a real mitzva to help old infirm people. Two, you got my mom.” To describe Howard Rich as concisely as possible, I would use the following adjectives: caring, smart, loyal, sensitive, and charitable.

In a nutshell, Howard was a real mensch loved by all. He will be sorely missed, but I am confident that his legacy will serve as an inspiration to us all.

Larry Gelfand,
former executive vice president
Susan Grosser,
executive vice president, Daughters of Israel
West Orange

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