Minutes of Meeting

Back ] Home ] Up ] Next ]

June 13, 1999

Location: Neil's Heritage House

Meeting Topic: Dinner in Honor of Bert Buby

Facilitator: Shirley Flacks, Eric Friedland, Eileen Moorman



PRESENT: Robin Smith and Felix Garfunkel, Cochairs; Bert Buby, Jim Buby, Phyllis Duckwall, Shirley Flacks, Eric Friedland, Erika Garfunkel, Agnes Hannahs, Peg Hoenigman, Jack Kelley, Eleanor Koenigsberg, Harry Koenigsberg, John Magee, Judith Moore, Earl Moorman, Eileen Moorman, Ken Morgan, Bill Rain, Donald Ramsey, Ken Rosenzweig, Harold Rubenstein, Sophie Rubenstein, Mary Ann Sunshine, Rose Wendel.

Shirley opened the dinner proceedings at about 6:15 PM by announcing that the Dialogue dinner was in honor of the long-time, devoted supporter of the Dialogue, Bert Buby (Rev. Bert Buby, S.M.). Shirley also noted that Bert is publishing his fifth book. Don delivered the invocation, in which he noted the help in researching religious questions that Bert has provided to him during the last two years when Don was a member of the Dialogue. Also in tribute to Bert, Don read a passage from Psalm 15, a psalm of David, which refers to the fact that a righteous man can never be moved. Ken then delivered the Jewish prayer over the wine, "boreh pre hagafen." Erica then delivered the Jewish prayer over bread, "hamotze lechem min ha-aretz." The program then recessed for the meal.

After the dinner, several people delivered tributes to Bert. Shirley noted that she took courses at the University of Dayton from Bert a number of years ago in which passages from Christian writings were covered. Bert often asked Shirley whether she perceived the writings to be anti-Semitic. Shirley often replied that the writings were anti-Semitic. Shirley was surprised when she passed the course. Shirley also praised the extreme kindness and compassion showed by Bert to Paul and herself during Paul's recent illness, prior to his death. Shirley also said she enjoyed taking Bert to a Hadassah meeting.

Eric presented to Bert a beautiful framed certificate, prepared by Joan Marcus, which expresses the appreciation of the Dialogue for the "loyal, loving and learned ways" that Bert has served the Dialogue over the years. Eric said that the certificate illustrates the kinship between the two faiths of Chistianity and Judaism and that Bert in a unique way embodies that kinship. Also, the certificate contains inscriptions drawn according to the Byzantine rite, to which Bert is attached. There is an inscription from the Bet Sha'an Synagogue at the top of the certificate and one from the church in Phocis in Greece at the bottom. A quotation on the certificate is taken from Psalm 122, expressing shared love for the city of Jerusalem. "Since all are my brothers and friends, I say "Peace be with you!"1 Eric stated that Bert speaks peace to everyone.

Eileen then took the floor. Prior to the dinner meeting, Eileen had surveyed a number of the Dialogue members for their comments on their relationship to Bert and his importance for the Dialogue. Eileen reported that someone said Bert is a gospel (proclamation of truth) of Dialogue. Bill said that Bert had officiated at a joint Catholic Jewish wedding in which his daughter married a Jewish man. Bill noted that Bert understood the gift of faith that is shared. Ken described Bert's kindness as the "glue that holds the Dialogue together." Agnes said that Bert had brought her to the Dialogue. Sophie told how Bert's encouraging words helped her carry on when the removal of a cast on her leg had to be delayed. Peg Hoenigman said that Bert's support helped steady her during her husband's illness, prior to his death. Shirley expressed the joy of being together with Bert. Felix said that Bert's attitude is a blessing. John appreciated the fact that Bert has brought his scholarship and intelligence to the Dialogue. Lorraine noted that Bert told her that the fact that he does not wear his clerical collar to the Dialogue meetings is because he does not want to be separated from the Dialogue members or to make them feel intimidated. Eileen expressed her appreciation to Bert for 30 years of friendship with her family. She told a humorous story of Bert scrubbing her floor after he lost a bet with her on a Cincinnati Reds game. She also noted that Bert had frequently visited Paul Flacks and Lou Ryterband when they were fighting terminal illnesses. He brought peace and strength to the two men and their families. Eileen concluded by saying that Bert has officiated at the weddings of her children and the funerals of her parents. She expressed deep appreciation for Bert's constant friendship and faithfulness to her family.

Jack stated he is proud Bert is one of his former students. Eileen then presented the Dialogue's gift to Bert, a brass plaque to be placed on a nativity scene at Bergamo, when Bert is deceased. Shirley announced that the flowers on the dinner tables were donated by Connie Breen, who unfortunately could not attend. She also read a message honoring Bert sent by Arthur and Judy Auster from Hong Kong.

At this point, Jerry took the floor to honor Bert by singing some songs. He said that by coincidence, the words of his first song, Lemanachai V-reyai, are the first words on the framed certificate presented to Bert this evening. The song is translated, "because of my brothers and friends, peace be unto to you." Jerry introduced the second song by challenging the attendees with a riddle, originally from Yiddish. What is it that all people are blessed with, that is a treasure. One cannot buy this thing for any amount. If one loses it, one will cry. One can never get a second one after losing the first one. The only person who can understand the value of this thing is a person who has lost it. What is it? The answer is a Yiddishe Mama (Jewish mother). Jerry linked the song to Bert by noting that Bert is a foremost scholar of Mary, who Jerry defined as the ultimate Jewish mother. Some translated passages from the song are: nothing is better in the world; how beautiful and bright it is when she is there; if you do not hold her dear, that is the greatest sin; how rich and lucky is the person who has this beautiful gift, blessed by God. Jerry concluded by singing an Italian love song.

Shirley then took the floor to honor Bert. She presented him with a painting of a mother and child in a Jerusalem scene which she had personally painted for Bert.

Harold then honored Bert with some comments. He pointed out that most contemporary Jews do not engage in a lot of discussion of miracles. A few years ago, the Holocaust Memorial in the Dayton Jewish Community Center was dedicated. Bert was in attendance. When his turn came to speak, Bert said, "Al Chet Shechatanu . . ." As Bert spoke these words, a hush fell over the audience. All the Jews in attendance knew the meaning of these words. They are from the Communal Confession of Sin, jointly pronounced by all Jews only on the most holy holiday of Yom Kippur. They represent one of the most emotional and revealing parts of all Jewish liturgy. It was absolutely overwhelming for Jews to hear a Catholic priest reciting these words in Hebrew, as a Christian, taking responsibility for the most calamitous tragedy of Jewish history, the Holocaust. Harold was grateful to have been in attendance when Bert spoke these words; he viewed this as a modern miracle.

At this point, Bert took the floor to express his feelings about the Dialogue's recognition of his contributions. He said that he belongs to the Dialogue because of the love and friendship he has with Dialogue members. He works for continuity in the group. He said he has learned to pray better as a result of being in dialogue. Dialogue has also helped him to be a better teacher. He noted that he has worked with Judith Moore on the Jewish parts of his courses. Bert also thanked the Marianists who have encouraged Bert to continue to engage in dialogue with Jews. He thanked specifically Jack Kelley for encouraging him in his Dialogue activities, and also Father Hoelle and Rev. Bill Cole (deceased). Bert concluded by saying he loves each and every one of you.

The program adjourned at about 8:25 PM.

Respectfully submitted,

Ken Rosenzweig, Secretary

1 The Jerusalem Bible, (Garden City, New York:Doubleday, 1968), p. 792.
Back ] Home ] Up ] Next ]