Judy and I knew Betty Minsk for over 40 years. She was one of our very close friends and we shall miss her dearly, especially my wife.
About seven years ago, Betty organized a dozen or so families to meet with a rabbi once a month on a Sunday night to discuss important Jewish books for an hour. Betty and Malcolm opened up their home for the meetings, and Betty always had lots of desserts for all of us after the presentation. At first, we took on the entire Pirkei Avos, then moved on to Maimonides’ Mishnah Torah and now we are beginning a literary discussion of the Torah. Throughout all those years, Betty was the organizer, preparing her own desserts month after month. It has only been the last few months that she was unable to offer her home, so Judy and I have taken on that assignment, but we will never be able to match her amazing refreshments.
On many occasions, Betty would call my wife and the four of us would go out for dinner during the evening. In addition to that, we would often get together with other couples on Saturday night after Shabbos to enjoy each other’s company. We just enjoyed being around the Minsks.
We were there for the opening of the Atlanta Jewish Academy gym that honored Betty and Malcolm for underwriting the cost of the gym with the Zisholtz family. We were there when Betty and Malcolm put up the funds to establish a new mikvah next to Beth Jacob Synagogue.
I was there as president of Torah Day School of Atlanta when Betty joined me on the board to take on the job of evaluating the board and finding new members for it. She did it even though her first love was for the AJA. She was so committed to serving the Jewish community that she could not refuse.
We were here to see Betty become the early childhood director and start the Jewish family activities at the Greenfield Hebrew Academy. We were there when Betty initiated Kosher Day at Turner Field to raise money for all of the Jewish day schools. We were there when Betty spent about a year creating and writing the history of the AJA. This was a major effort and no one else had the capability of doing it. Betty just did it. When Beth Jacob Synagogue was raising funds for its renovation, I knew that the Minsks did not agree with everything being done in the renovation, but they gave a significant financial commitment, nevertheless. They had to support their synagogue. End of story.
We could never say no to Betty when she helped to raise funds for AJA’s capital campaign. You knew, when Betty was involved, things went well. She could sell you on whatever she was committed to because she was passionate about what she did. She will get credit in Heaven for her effort, but here on Earth she gets credit for results. She followed the famous statement of “Say little and do much.”
Oh, I forgot to mention that one evening Matt Lewis and Jodi Wittenberg approached Judy and me to fund an Israeli flag made out of cookies, the largest flag of any country in the world made from cookies. When we asked who else was sponsoring the event, it was Betty and Malcolm. We had to support the Minsks and the idea.
Speaking for my wife, Betty would call her several times a week. There was nothing special about these calls. It was just two very close friends absolutely committed to each other and to their friendship. They loved each other, and while her family will miss her dearly, I know my wife will miss her as a sister, the sister she never had. Betty knew the stock market and I can tell you the one stock she loved and asked me to buy over and over again. Reluctantly, I had to tell her that I sold it a long time ago. If you knew Betty, you knew the stock. She loved the company; she loved that stock and for good reason. It’s at an all-time high. It is Apple computer. I wish I took her advice.
It is hard to say goodbye to a close friend that you saw almost every week and talked with more often than that. We can only move on and keep her memory alive for all the good that she has done. Her parting should remind us to fill our lives with the spiritual growth that we are capable of. Our grief must be viewed as the price we pay for the positive relationship we had with Betty. She contributed so much to our community and to us personally.
If I were to guess what Betty would tell us now, she would say, “View your feelings of sadness as a challenge to be more positive, and set goals for yourself. Focus on doing a mitzvah. Help someone else.” That’s who she was, so I can only say Amen!
Allen Lipis is a regular columnist for the AJT.