הקהילה החדשה של רמת אביב ע"ש סיימור צימט ז"ל
יהושע צבי בן משה וחיה צימט ז"ל
Pirkei Avot, Chapter 4, Verse 1
"Ben Zoma said: Who is wise? He who learns from all people, as it is said: 'From all those who taught me I gained understanding'. Who is strong? He who controls his impulses, as it is said: 'Better is one slow to anger than a strong man, and one who rules over his spirit than a conqueror of a city'. Who is rich? He who is satisfied with his lot, as it is said: 'When you eat the toil of your hands you are fortunate and it is good for you'. This verse from the Bible says 'You are fortunate' meaning that you are fortunate in this world. The verse then adds 'and it is good for you' to mean that it will be good for you in the World to Come. Who is respected? He who loves people, as it is said: 'For those who honor Me will I honor, and those who scorn Me will be degraded'."
פרקי אבות פרק ד, פסוק א
"בן זומא אומר, איזה הוא חכם--הלמד מכל אדם, שנאמר "מכל מלמדיי, השכלתי". איזה הוא גיבור--הכובש את יצרו, שנאמר "טוב ארך אפיים, מגיבור". איזה הוא עשיר--השמח בחלקו, שנאמר "יגיע כפיך, כי תאכל; אשריך, וטוב לך": "אשריך", בעולם הזה;"וטוב לך", לעולם הבא. איזה הוא מכובד--המכבד את הברייות, שנאמר "כי מכבדיי אכבד ובוזיי ייקלו."
Seymour Cymet z"l
שיע הערש צימעט ז"ל
Seymour z"l and Sabina Cymet
A TRIBUTE BY HIS SON, RABBI JEFF CYMET
The founding rabbi of The Seymour Cymet z"l New Kehila of Ramat Aviv
The New Kehila of Ramat Aviv is dedicated to my father, Seymour Cymet, z"l, because he was the inspiration that created it. He was the one who brought my family to Ramat Aviv, and convinced me that it is one of the best places to live in the world, especially for Jews. And he was the one who dragged me with him to shul every Shabbat, wherever we may have lived. I sometimes feel as if I spent my childhood with my elbow sticking into his ribs during the morning service, trying to quiet him down, as he enthusiastically kibbitzed with everyone there (for years he positioned himself close to the candy man which meant that there were many opportunities to greet people). His socializing at shul was so well known that at one point the rabbi asked him whether he came to shul to talk or whether he came to shul to daven.
My father's answer to the rabbi remains the inspiration for what we seek to create in this shul: "Rabbi, I could have davened at home." My Dad knew, instinctively, that a shul is not just a Beit Tefila, or a place of prayer, and not just a shul, or a place of learning, but that it was, at its core essence, a Beit Knesset, a place of congregation, where we seek holiness through joining together in communication, not just with the Almighty, but also with our fellow Jews. We all could just daven at home, if all we sought were prayers. However, the New Kehila is a place where we seek more than just prayer, we seek to create and become a part of a Jewish community. We seek to be a place where we create holiness through joining our voices together, sometimes in synch, sometimes in song, and sometimes in conversation with our neighbors, towards a common purpose.
My father loved people--all people--and a community like ours is based on fostering that love of our fellows. He could walk into any room and begin a conversation with anyone there, no matter how humble or how esteemed. To him there was no difference. His irrepressible curiosity, and his love of people, could make each and every one of them feel completely comfortable because my Dad was genuinely curious to hear their stories and to learn from each and every one of them. Even in his final days this glorious trait continued to shine. His innate personality would continue to start conversations, and ask questions and show genuine interest and love of learning.
My father loved life, and he loved learning, and that too is at the core of our congregation's mission. His love of life, his love of people and his love of learning kept his נשמה , his spirit, young his entire life. During the last year of his life my father often repeated one particular story. Finally beginning to feel a bit slower than usual, he said to his doctor that "You know, Doc, I'm getting there." The Doc responded, "Cy, you're already there." He found that concept hilarious. He knew that it was true, but he could never fully believe that he was old. How could he be, when his spirit was still so young? The thought was so preposterous to my Dad, that it just made him laugh. "Cy, you're already there." But of course it really was funny because my Dad never did get old. He remained, to his last day, the same sharp, impish, curious active youngster that he always was. Love of learning keeps you young and alive, and the New Kehila inspired by my father aspires to be a community that fosters, promotes and nourishes that passion in all of us.
My Dad loved people, but he would have thought it foolish and dishonest to say that he should love all people equally. My Dad's love of humanity was not even comparable to his love of his own communities of people. He reserved nothing when it came to doing, helping, supporting his own family, and he provided more love and support to us than anyone could possibly hope for. Nothing took precedence over family. His love for his family knew no bounds.
He loved America, and the freedom and opportunity that it provided to him and to his family and to his people. He served his country with pride in the military, and felt that a Jew should always serve the country in which he lives--just as his father served in the Polish army and his grandfather in the Russian army and he was proud that I served in the Israeli army. But he loved America--the land of the free and the home of the brave, and was passionate about the need to continue the bravery necessary to retain the freedoms and opportunities that made it so special.
But anyone who knew my father even for a minute knew that for him, his extended family, his community, his people, were the Jewish people. His love and loyalty to the Jewish people was absolute. He was passionate in his love of Israel and the Jewish people, and would be scathing against people whose ideas or opinions threatened us. His love of life, his love of liberty, his love of Judaism, his love of the Jewish people, his love of Israel, and most specifically, his love of his own family, was at the center of a life devoted to maintaining and providing and nurturing those loves.
My Dad was a hero to all of his children and grandchildren, who always recognized that he was not just flesh and blood, but a man of tremendous neshama, tremendous spirit, that continues to innervate, inspire and live on in all of us today.
Born on November 20, 1933 in New York, my father's parents had only recently moved to the United States from Hrubieszow, Poland. His father, משה, Morris, had studied at yeshiva in Lublin and inspired a love of learning and joy in my father. His mother, חיה, Clara, was a hard-working millinery worker, and a pious and devout Jew who played the mandolin and sang Yiddish songs on the radio. His was a house filled with yiddishkeit and Jewish song and culture. Though born and raised by his parents in the United States, his extended family remained in Poland. When he was eight, he learned how his grandfather was murdered by the Germans in the main square of his town. By the time he was nine, his family received their last letter from their relatives back in Europe. By the time my Dad was twelve, he learned that some of his relatives who had survived the Holocaust were then murdered upon their return by their Polish neighbors. To a kid growing up in the Bronx, such stories could feel like they happened a world away, but in many ways they set the background to a lifetime devoted to never letting the world witness such sorrows again.
In elementary school, my father, as would be no surprise to anyone who knows him and his tremendous intellect, excelled, and he earned a full scholarship to board at the Torah veDaath yeshiva in Brooklyn. At that time you could already see his worldview developing. While he loved the learning and the ruach, the spirit, that was part of yeshiva life, his political consciousness was already taking form even at that age and he could not stay there amongst the rabbanim who continued before and throughout the Holocaust to tell Jews that it was better to stay behind in Europe and be slaughtered than to risk secularization or assimilation in Israel or America.
Their focus on prayer alone, without supportive actions, infuriated my father--in the way that self-destructive Jews would infuriate my father throughout his lifetime--and formed a hashkafa, a worldview, that put at its core Zionism and the need for the Jewish people to look not just to God, but also to themselves, for their own salvation. Murmuring psalms on the way to destruction brought no glory to God or to his people. Jews needed to also speak the language of the nations, the language of power, in defending themselves and ensuring their future survival. By high school, my Dad transferred to a more modern yeshiva--the Talmudical Academy of Yeshiva University--and joined the Shomer Hadati Zionist youth movement which incubated the love of Israel that defined my father's passion throughout his life.
When my father's father died, my father had to leave the yeshiva and go to work in order to help support his mother. He transferred to a public high school, worked nights in the printing presses of the Jewish newspaper, Der Tug, and joined the secular Zionist youth movement, Betar.
But the most important thing to happen to my father during these high school years took place during a visit to the Bronx Zoo, where he became besotted with the most beautiful, tall, blonde, blue-eyed creation that he had ever seen. This woman, Sabina, my mother, may she live to 120, not only was a match for his great intellect, she was also as hardworking, practical and ambitious as he was, and was the love of his life. My father put his legendary persuasion and persistence to work and managed to make this beauty his wife. They were married a day after my mother's 18th birthday while my father was just 20 and serving in the US army, and their lives were intertwined ever since--over 60 years.
Together, this couple of young bright hard-working kids worked together as a formidable team and achieved success beyond their wildest dreams. Both worked hard at full time jobs for years while they went to college at night. With my mother's support, my father left his secure, well-paying blue-collar job in the newspaper print shop, and started at a lower-paying but upwardly-mobile white-collar job in the Macy's advertising department. From those beginnings, he quickly rose through the ranks, until, while still in his early thirties, he started his own advertising agency in New York, employing many dozens of people who produced print advertising for leading companies, including Revlon and Gillette.
When my sister, Linda, was born, my parents moved out to the suburbs and their lives became devoted to their newly growing family, eventually including my brother, Tyler, and me. For years, my father would commute more than two hours in each direction to Commack so that my mother and siblings would have a secure home of their own. Still, he found the time to also help found a Conservative synagogue, the Commack Jewish Center, in his new town. Eventually, their success allowed them to move to a nicer and bigger house, closer to the city, on the water in Merrick, and in a neighborhood with a more established Jewish community. My Dad became active leading the synagogue youth group, always committed to teaching the next generation about the beauty of Judaism. He never stopped being creative, taking lessons at the Art Institute of New York and even showing and selling his art in Greenwich Village. His passion for history found expression in his collections of coins and stamps and Judaica and his avid appetite for news and books.
Together my parents created a picture-perfect lifestyle and devoted themselves to our family. My father would always tell me how proud he was of my mother, and how she was the best wife and mother, seamlessly and seemingly effortlessly maintaining a model household and devoting herself to the raising of us children at home, of whom he was so proud, while he still worked long hours in the city.
But career success is not the only measure in life, and in 1973, just before his 40th birthday, my father accomplished one of his greatest goals in life. He, and my entire family, made aliyah, we ascended, to Israel. My father's love of Israel knew no bounds, and though we only remained in Israel for two years, our family's move there continues to be one of the most defining characteristics in all of our lives, molding and inspiring my father's children and grandchildren to this very day. Not only did moving to Israel provide us all with the Jewish identity that he so wanted to instill in his children, it also gave him more of an opportunity to participate in the raising of the family. My only memories of my father from before this move were of holidays and weekends and going to shul together. But once we moved to Israel he had more time to be a more active parent during weekdays as well, chaperoning school trips and taking us on tiyulim in Israel and beyond.
When we moved to Florida, my father continued to provide an example to us all. With his unflailing energy, creativity, optimism, persistence, pragmatism and intellect, he and my Mom learned and succeeded at many new businesses--from the hotel that my mother managed for years, to stock brokerage to wholesale interior design to real estate development--and showed us that opportunities are only limited by our own imagination, intellect and hard work, and that there is honor in all work that provides for your own family. He never stopped learning and growing and succeeded at every new venture. Eventually he settled back into the career that he had succeeded at so well--advertising and print--until he retired.
All of this was to provide for his family and our future. He optimistically supported us all, always happy to provide for our education, always supporting us wherever we would go. He always made us feel that our success was his success, and that supporting us was as natural as supporting himself.
My father's love of people blessed him tremendously with love from all of them. During his final years he volunteered at the hospital and put his gift with people to humanitarian use, helping strangers in their time of need. His outgoing and easygoing nature, his impish grin, his easy chuckle, his insatiable curiosity, his love of learning and of Torah, his interest in others, his passionate defense of and pride in his countries, his people and his family, gave him a charisma that will endure forever in the consciousness of all those who were touched by him.
מיהו עשיר? השמח בחלקו
Who is wealthy? The one who is satisfied with his lot. In that capacity, my father was an incredibly wealthy man. His nachas, his joy, his zest, his satisfaction for his life was so complete that for many years before his death he felt that if he could die a happy man, proud and satisfied in all of his accomplishments. And he was certainly right to feel like that. We all wished and hoped that we would be able to share our lives and that joy with him for many more years to come, but his example teaches us to be grateful for what we did get to enjoy and share, and not focus on what could have been.
He was fortunate, meaning in this world.
וטוב לך--לעולם הבא.
And it is good for him, meaning in the world to come.
ה' נתן, ה' לקח. יהי שם ה' מבורך
God gave, God took, May God's name be blessed.
Seymour Cymet, z"l, is an inspiration to those who knew and loved him, especially to my mother, Sabina, may she live a long life, to my brother and sister, Tyler and Linda, to our spouses, Mitch, Lorna and Holly, and to his grandchildren, Zachary, Jason, Jeremy, Yanai, Camellia, Yardena and Ilana.
We hope that this New Kehila, named in his honor, will enable many other men and women who make this their spiritual home now and for generations to come, to continue to be inspired by this remarkable man and the community that is just a part of his legacy.
To donate to the Seymour Cymet Memorial Fund, please visit the Donate page and earmark the donation to the Seymour Cymet z"l New Kehila of Ramat Aviv specifically for that fund.