When I remember Alan Friedman, I will think of a tzaddik who loved to learn Torah and loved to live it. I will also remember Alan’s Cheshire cat smile, unceasing wit and penchant for sending funny e-mails at all hours. He was a perfectionist, from his flawless Torah reading and shofar blowing rendition to his tendency to edit anything in front of him. At the same time, he was a caring and compassionate man who did magic tricks for children. He made every minute count until succumbing to a lengthy illness on May 2.
Born in Boston in 1941, Alan moved to Orange County in 1962. He met his wife, Chelle, two years later, and they were married for 45 years. They had two sons, Scott and Roger, and two grandchildren, Jacob and Liana.
An electrical engineer for 30 years in the aerospace industry, Alan found the time to serve his congregation, Temple Beth Sholom, where he and Chelle were named congregants of the year in 2010. Alan was a greeter, Shabbat and High Holy Day usher, president of the Brotherhood and a member of the board of directors. He chaired the worship and music committees and was the chief editor of the congregation’s prayerbook and the inspiration and coordinator for the on-line Torah commentary.
According to Rabbi Heidi Cohen, who gave a moving eulogy, Alan “spent countless hours organizing and encouraging so many to participate in leading Torah study and lay-led services. He was passionate about interfaith relations and when he saw that the 50th anniversary of a certificate of recognition was approaching a few years ago, Alan led the work in reconnecting the few remaining members of Wilshire Presbyterian which includes Orange Canaan Presbyterian today with Temple Beth Sholom. This resulted in an amazing Shabbat shared between our congregations, a Shabbat dinner of chicken soup and kimchee, and a newly formed friendship with Reverend In Yang, to whom Alan taught Hebrew.”
Alan loved ritual and often led Shabbat services, along with Passover and High Holy Day services, for Bubbe and Zayde’s Place. He participated in shiva minyan services for many congregants, including those whom he did not even know.
Rabbi Cohen added, “I feel his presence next to me, here on this bima. I feel the presence of his pride when he came forward each year at the High Holy Days as our Ba’al T’kiah. There was never any doubt that this was his place to stand, even this past year when Alan became more and more sick. I wondered to myself if he was going to be able to still share with us his gift of shofar. But then, when he came forward, you could feel it. I could feel his neshamah fill up greater than ever before. From somewhere deep down inside Alan reached, and from the depths of his soul he made the shofar sing and cry. And as a congregation, we not only heard the shofar; we felt it. We were transported with him, from mountaintop to mountaintop as the message of the New Year was passed from person to person. Alan blessed us with his breath, with his soul and with his full self.”