Birthdays, Father’s Day, A Puppy & A Beatle

Celebrating decades of friendship at Avalon nature trail in Stony Brook, NY. earlier this year. Dewey is the good looking one.

This is a big week for me.A big, important and wonderful week.My father, two of my best friends, my new golden retriever, and one of my all-time heroes are celebrating birthdays. Plus, it’s Father’s Day.So this is a time to celebrate, a time to rejoice and a time to take stock.I’m sharing my bounty in the hopes that it will inspire you to think about yours or to create one if your lacking. It’s never too late to resurrect or cultivate a relationship. And you know what? Life is all about relationships.Close readers of this blog know how much I admire my father.

He’s my hero and someone who has made a profound difference in my life and the life of everyone he has encountered. He’s just a good man. And when I survey the landscape these days  I realize that he’s a rare commodity in a troubled world. I appreciate him more and more as time and life go on.On this Father’s Day, I find myself thinking about how fortunate I have been to have such a great father and I hope I’ve been a good father to my children.

I also find myself thinking about the father’s who’ve lost children in Uvalde and elsewhere. Life is capable of delivering us sorrow beyond words, a fact I remind myself of when I find myself stressing about something that will be insignificant a few months from now.So that’s a reminder to enjoy the little perks  of life—a lunch with a good friend at Granger’s, the squirrel who comes to the door and watches us watching television and the first birthday of your golden retriever.Yes, our Gracie turns 1 on the first day of summer. A good dog—and they are all good—changes your life. Gracie happens to be a great dog.

She’s a joy. A character. A beauty.

She’s friendly, affectionate and so well behaved. She delivers a large dose of love everyday without fail and has an endless reserve.I wish I could say the same about myself.Dogs make you question your priorities because dogs—Gracie especially—-have their priorities in perfect order. Happiness equals good sleep, good (or any) food, affection, long walks and spending time with your pack.

Speaking of my pack, two core members are celebrating birthdays this week; my buddies Andy (we know him as Dewey) and my brother from another mother Scott.I go back a long, long, long time with these guys. I’m talking 50 years back. We graduated high school 40 years ago—together.So, if you have old friends you know how special they are. And if you have lost track of your friends look them up and reach out. It’s worth the effort.

I’m so proud that I have stayed in touch with my childhood friends. We are all proud. Life doesn’t make it easy. Deadlines and commitments what to leave in, what to leave out, Bob Seger once sang.

Distance, time, wives, kids, careers and now even politics can separate  you from people who mean so much.But if you can navigate those things the rewards are enormous.We’ve managed to do it. And I’m so grateful.Today, when I look at these guys via Zoom across the years and the miles I still see the kids I once knew. They are there, right in front of me. While we talk about current events, we can also access decades of history. Nights spent in Dewey’s legendary Karmann Ghia, summer days playing tennis with Scott but mostly dreaming of the future. Where would it lead?Today, we have most of that answer.  Not all of it. Nope, we are not done yet.But I can say this, when I talk to these guys I’m overcome with pride. They’re good men. And that fact satisfies something very deep inside.My buddies share a birthday week with one my all-time heroes Paul McCartney.The “cute” Beatle turns 80 on June 18.I have loved The Beatles for as long I can remember. I have listened to their music almost every day since I was a little kid.So Paul is a big deal for me and a few hundred million people. It’s amazing and inspiring that he’s still out there performing, writing and recording music. A blessing in a screwed up world.My dad, two friends, a golden named Gracie and a Beatle.I just boosted my spirits writing this.I hope you have your own version of this happy tale. Have a wonderful Father’s Day.

She’s a lot bigger now but just as cute.

Father’s Day Vibes

I’m not ready to leave Father’s Day just yet.

So indulge me, if you will.

It’s an important day and deserves more than 24 hours.

Close readers of this blog know of my deep regard for my father.

Simply said, he’s my hero; has been, always will be.

As an avid reader of biography, I’m keenly aware of how lucky I am to have a good father. So many people either don’t have a father or the one that they do have is deeply flawed or in the worst cases abusive or absent.

I may be lacking in lots of areas, but in the dad department I won the lottery.

My dad checks every box:

Good provider, always there for us, good husband to my mother, attentive father, solid, reliable, loving, honest and generous. The list of his positive attributes goes on forever and at age 83 I’m still discovering new traits to admire about my father.

I’m so lucky have him around playing a prominent role in my life and the lives of my children.

As for me, I’m 56, with 35 years of professional experience and at this point a whole lot of life experience too.

So you would think I could go it alone. And the truth is I can.

But why go it alone when you have a dad who is so smart and so pure in his intentions.  He just wants the best for his son and everyone in our family. There’s still not a big decision I would make without his input.  And not because I need his advice but because I want it and because it’s always so good.

Yes, I am a lucky man.

So many of my friends have lost their dads by now. I knew these men and they were good people, so those losses loom large. I think you always need your parents and if they do a good job and impart the right stuff you’ll always be able to summon those lessons even when they’re gone.

In this Covid era, I can’t help but think of all the children who have lost parents to the virus in 2020-21. And obviously it’s not just Covid, but the usual culprits too and the not so usual reasons such as being in the wrong place at the wrong time. There is too much violence in our world today.

I ache for those experiencing a painful Father’s Day.

So while obvious, it’s important to say it: savor the moments.

The special moments. The ordinary moments. The great conversations and the pedestrian ones as well.

Take long walks.

Meet for lunch and dinner.

Share books and articles and jokes and greeting cards and weekend trips if you are able.

Hit some golf balls. Watch a ball game. And for goodness sakes tell them how you feel.

Don’t leave things unsaid.

Today is a blessing. Tomorrow is not guaranteed.


Note: Delray Beach lost a wonderful community leader last week. Shirley Israel passed away in Los Angeles where she was living after moving from Delray a few years ago.

She was a long time leader at the Pines of Delray back when western condo presidents wielded a lot of political power in our town.

Shirley was a key advisor to a slew of mayors and commissioners who valued her support, advice and friendship. It was always given generously with the best of intentions for Delray Beach at its heart.

Back in the days when Shirley was out front leading,  the western communities were very active  raising money for charity, supporting police and fire and volunteering for worthy causes and projects.

I miss those days. Those lions and lionesses were never replaced and we are a poorer community as a result.

Once upon a time, we had a whole lot of heartfelt civic engagement. It went beyond complaining on social media and included volunteering for the Citizen Roving Patrols, Community Emergency Response Teams to help out during disasters, fundraising for police and fire and reading to children in our schools.

Shirley was one of those people and she was passionate about Delray and her community at the Pines.

Two quick stories that I will always remember.

The Pines is located across from our wastewater treatment plant. And back in the day, when the wind blew in a certain direction, you could smell that plant from miles away. The odor was especially strong in the Pines of Delray. As city commissioners we had the honor of serving on the board of the plant along with city commissioners from Boynton Beach.

Shirley lobbied us to do something about the odor. Eventually, we did. But to make sure we understood what was at stake she organized a big group to greet us at a board meeting. A few of the people got heated at the meeting and went after the supervisor of the plant who was a wonderful guy but he didn’t like to be pushed. I remember walking into the meeting, wading through the crowd of angry people and catching Shirley’s eye. She smiled, shrugged and winked as if to say “we like you commissioners, but we mean business. Will you help us?”

Of course we will.  And we did.

Later, when Shirley was sworn into another term as president of the Pines she invited me and my colleague Vice Mayor Jon Levinson to the swearing in festivities at Benvenuto restaurant. We went, thinking we would be there for the ceremony, say a quick hello to our friends in the Pines and go back to our busy lives. Well…we spent the whole day dancing, schmoozing and celebrating with a banquet hall full of people who were thrilled to be a part of Delray. How could we leave?

Shirley and her husband Herman kept in touch when we left office with Hanukkah cards and occasional emails. Over time, the cards stopped and my emails to the Israel’s were sent without receiving a reply. I read a few of the emails early this morning. Shirley’s funeral is later today. They were a mix of inquiries about my children and observations about Delray. They were filled with warm sentiment and genuine love for this community.

I don’t how many people are still around who will remember Shirley Israel and the many other leaders who made a big difference in this town.

They supported bond issues to improve older neighborhoods, attended visioning conferences and goal setting sessions, backed good candidates, wore uniforms and patrolled our shopping centers and helped us after so many hurricanes.

I will remember them. Always. Shirley was very, very special.




Father & Sons

My dad celebrates his birthday June 15 with Riley his great grand retriever.


My father and I have a lot in common.

We love to talk politics, like to follow current events, enjoy sports —especially tennis —and love dogs. We never run out of things to talk about, enjoy each other’s company and I feel incredibly grateful to have had a father who has been nothing short of remarkable for 55 plus years.

Even today, at an age where I carry an AARP card and have had a fair amount of life experience, I wouldn’t make a major move without seeking his advice and counsel.
I’m lucky he’s still here to give it. And because he’s smart and caring, I’d be foolish not to seek out his counsel. And my dad and mom didn’t raise a fool. (Wink wink).
I’m writing about my dad, because this is his birthday week and we are fast approaching Father’s Day.
It’s a wonderful holiday; a chance to celebrate fatherhood and the important roles dad’s play in our lives and in our society.
My dad set an early and consistent example. He just seemed to always be doing the right things—taking care of our family, working hard and making my mother very happy.
He never sought the spotlight but just quietly provided for his family and served his community by running the local pharmacy.
He instilled in me and my sister a great love of Jewish culture, made sure we listened to the wonderful stories our grandparents told us and also gave us a deep appreciation for where we lived by taking on us on nice vacations where we mixed fun with history by visiting places like Gettysburg and Plymouth Rock.
He went to my Little League games, played tennis with me and took me to my first baseball game, Mets versus Pirates in 1973.
He never pushed me—like other dad’s did in sports. He wanted me to be a good sport and to enjoy the game.
That’s good advice for life by the way.
I may have rebelled a time or two (hundred) but I was listening. I paid attention. I tried to absorb what he was teaching me not through lectures but by living the right way.
I can’t speak for daughters but sons really want to earn their father’s attention and praise. My drive comes from wanting to get my father’s attention. It took me years to figure that out. I’ve been grateful for his inspiration.
I’ve lived my life way outside of my natural comfort zone as a result. Again, he never pushed. I just wanted him to be proud of me.
So much of what is wrong in   our world today can be traced to poor parenting and it’s my hunch that a whole lot of dysfunction can be traced to bad fathers or absentee ones.
So I was lucky. I had a great father and a great mother.
What an advantage.
But I’m very conscious that others weren’t as fortunate as I was.
Which is why as we approach Father’s Day I’d like to ask your indulgence to consider reaching out and helping three local non-profits—the Achievement Center for Children and Families, 4Kids and the EJS Project.
There are a slew of other great non-profits that focus on children and I don’t mean to slight any of them.
But I’ve been taken by the three I’ve mentioned because of their emphasis on helping children from homes that struggle financially or spiritually or emotionally. Or sometimes all three.
The Achievement Center started in a church basement in Delray more than 50 years ago. I became involved because I became spellbound by the talent, passion and skill of founder Nancy Hurd. I served on the board for many years and saw firsthand how the lives of the most vulnerable children in our community were transformed by the nurturing they received from a talented and committed staff. That legacy of excellence continued after Nancy retired and passed the baton to the equally amazing Stephanie Siebel. Visit a deeper look, you’ll be amazed.
I’ve also been impressed by the passion and commitment of Emanuel “Dupree” Jackson whose EJS Project is working wonders in Delray. The organization is mentoring a generation of young leaders, something our community and our country sorely needs.
Check out the EJS project at
Readers of this blog know how we feel about 4 Kids, which does wonders with foster children.
This is an organization addressing a critical need in our community with compassion, competence and love.
Visit for more information.
Meanwhile, we wish wish you all a Happy Father’s Day. I will be spending mine with my dad and the kids who live locally. It’s a day to treasure.