“Uncle” Barry by Prof Gerald August

Jan 28th, 2011 by Rabbi Simcha Weinberg in Relationships

Uncle Barry's Motto

In 1958, I was in day camp and my counselor was Barry. In camp we called our counselors uncle. Uncle Barry is still a friend.

On his 65th birthday, I bought a book by a great Rabbi and asked him to autograph it. He asked me to tell him a little bit about Uncle Barry. And I told him three stories.

After I got up from shiva for my mother, may she rest in peace, I needed a ride to the train station. Barry had offered to take me. I called him and was a little confused about when I wanted to leave. He cut short my confusion with the following: “Just tell me when and where.”

That has always been true with Uncle Barry. Whenever I visit my hometown he can be counted on to pick me up if I need a ride. And it doesn’t matter how far out of the way he has to go. I know if I tell him where I need to go, I will get to my destination. Barry is dependable.

25 years ago, when my aunt had a stroke, her son Fred left New York and went back to help his father take care of her for a few months. Fred became a caregiver and it was a full-time job. Barry would continually get him out for a few hours. He owned a company and frequently would throw parties for business associates. Fred was always invited to the parties and many times Barry would pick him up. Caregivers need a break. And Barry made sure Fred got time off on a regular basis.

Barry is interested in local artists and is on the board of the local museum. One day he was talking to an artist who was just an acquaintance. The man said he had a big opportunity coming up. He had an appointment to take some of his paintings to Washington DC and have the curator of a museum evaluate his art. Barry said to him, “I will lend you my Mercedes for the day.” The man said to Barry, “I have a car.” Barry asked him what kind of car he had, and the reply was, “A Chevrolet.” Barry said, “Take my Mercedes. When you get to Washington a couple of people from the museum will probably come out to help you take your paintings inside. They will see the Mercedes and assume you’re successful. And people like to do business with people who are successful.” Barry saw a way to be helpful, even though the artist did not. This is a higher level act of kindness. Rabbi Telushkin has called this “moral imagination.”

Barry has always been there for me, my cousin and an acquaintance.

After hearing these stories, the Rabbi knew what to write inside the book. He wrote, “To Gerald’s Uncle Barry. A man who has lived a life of kindness and generosity”.

My wish is for each of us to have an Uncle Barry…and to strive to be like Uncle Barry.