Susan Howard Zauber lost her 10-year battle with cancer in May, but her husband is making sure others facing costly medical care will be freed from some of their financial burden.
Kenneth Zauber has established the Susan Howard Zauber Family Hope Chest at Congregation Torat El, the name of the recently merged Temple Beth Torah of Wanamassa and Temple Beth El in Oakhurst.
Each year, the $25,000 endowment will cover annual synagogue dues of a family facing financial crisis because of illness.
The Zaubers both grew up in Beth El when it was in Asbury Park. Kenneth’s father, Sidney, served as its president from 1964 to 1966.
Congregation president Maddy Cohen said the Hope Chest fund both symbolizes “the joy of marriage” and “the hope it will bring…to a family in our community.”
The fund was formally unveiled at a Jan. 15 Shabbat service honoring Dr. Martin Luther King.
Zauber, of Princeton, is a retired federal prosecutor and municipal judge. His wife was a tax attorney. He approached Beth El’s rabbi, Gordon Yaffe, and Cohen over the summer about establishing a scholarship fund.
“Ken began to tell me about their incredible storybook marriage,” said Cohen. “It was just so romantic. It was just so sad as he told me how much he loved and respected this woman and watched her fight this valiant battle with cancer.”
She said Zauber felt he was luckier than many in one sense — the couple always had the financial means to cover their bills.
A four-person committee — including Cohen and Zauber — has already selected this year’s recipient. In future years, congregants can anonymously submit applications.
Zauber said the couple was married on Valentine’s Day in 1983. Since Susan died, he said, “I can’t think of enough ways to honor her.” He recently established a $100,000 scholarship fund in her name at his alma mater, Amherst College in Massachusetts.
Kenneth Zauber served as a federal prosecutor in New Jersey, a municipal judge in Hamilton, chief counsel to the state Commission of Investigation, and chief trial attorney for the Division of Criminal Justice. Yet, he insisted, his wife outshined him.
“On Susan’s dumbest day she was smarter than me on my best day,” said Zauber. “She was always tops in her class, always the most popular. She got through night law school [at Seton Hall University] in two years instead of four. She studied at Oxford and the University of Florence in Italy.
“You name it; she could do it well.”