Remarks by David I. Jacobson, Founder, Chicago Jewish Funerals

September 1, 2011

Blessed are You L-ord our G_d, Kin of the Universe, who has granted us life, sustained us and enabled us to reach this occasion. I want to welcome and thank everyone for being here today.

The theme today is very simple for me…

It is the theme in which Chicago Jewish Funerals operates.

Hineini and MGM

Heieini – I am here or present…you are here today we are here and privileged to be present for the families that call us to serve.

MGM – A good dead begets a good deed…what I learn from this simple statement is push it forward and help our fellow man.

In this spirit I want to recognize Dr. Nancy Jones, Cook County Medical Examiner.

The Plaque Reads:

In appreciation of Dr. Nancy L. Jones, M.D. – Medical Examiner

For her commitment to and her caring for her fellow man, her community and for those we have loved and lost. One who is kind to the poor is looked upon as being a partner with the Almighty, it follows that someone who shows kindness to the dead (who are “poorer” than any living person), will certainly have gained this relationship with God.
When God called to Abraham and to Moses, they each responded “Hineini!” – “I am here!” they meant not only that they were present but that they were ready—ready to act, ready to do what needed to be done.
Dr. Jones, you embody Hineini
David Jacobson
Chicago Jewish Funerals
Thursday, September 1, 2011 – 2 Elul, 5771

I would like to introduce you to a close personal friend and confidant. My brother Michael introduced me to David Brezniack many years ago. He has become a brother of mine in the funeral service and in life. David is a fifth generation funeral director from Boston.
• The first person of the Jewish faith to be appointed to the state board of Funeral Directors by former Massachusetts Governor Mitt Romney and was elected Chairman of that board under present Governor Deval Patrick.
• Former member of the National Board of Funeral Service
• Exam Committee Member of the President’s Circle of Mount Ida College, Newton, Ma.
• Founding member and chief macher of KAVOD, the organization of independent Jewish Funeral chapels
• Chairman of the Board of Trustees of Congregation Beth Jacob, Boston and Newton, MA
• Loving, adoring husband of Judy and wonderful father of Marcy and Stephanie.
• And super proud Grandfather of Kate and Allison.

[See remarks: David Brezniak]

Before we do the ribbon cutting, I want to recognize my family that is here; friends, my vendors; my professionals – accountants, lawyers, advertising, architect, general contractors, designers; the people with whom I work and anyone who believes in the way it should be.

The funeral home is a funeral home that serves not just the orthodox and conservative, it serves the Jewish community. Chicago Jewish Funerals is not defined by a place. CJF is defined by our staff that cares about people. We have the same love, passion and respect for our profession, our traditions and our people as we did when we started 14 years ago in a cubicle in Northbrook. I am so proud of my staff because they internalize the CJF theme of Hineini and MGM, and how to serve each and every family.

There is a lesson that I learned many years ago that I would like to share. Where there is a deceased, we always have a candle lit. As we bring new people to CJF, I share this with them: If you put your hand too close to the flame, you get burned. Ultimately, you can burn out in the profession. If your hand is too far away, you feel nothing. Therefore you should get out of the profession. The key is to be the appropriate distance. You must feel the heat of the soul. That is what we do.

We are here. Hineini!

I would like to unveil this plaque that will be proudly displayed outside. Would Leon, Don, Seymour, Anna, Beverly, mom and sister. Please stand in front of the plaque.

“Rejoice not over the ship that is setting out to sea, for you know not what destiny awaits it, what storms it may encounter, what dangers lurk before it. Rejoice rather over the ship that has reached port safely and brought back all its passengers home in peace”. – Midrash. This place of comfort and compassion is dedicated to my family, my friends, my teachers, the professionals with whom I work and those whose families we are privileged to serve. It is dedicated in appreciation of my mentors Leon Wolin, Dr. Donald H. Greenberg and Seymour Abrams. It is dedicated in memory of Shimshon Mensher, Dr. Gary Siegel and my big brother Michael. Though Joseph S. Roth’s name is not here, he is present. – David Jacobson, Founder, Chicago Jewish Funerals

In order to be a mentor there are two simple rules: be honest in business and in your family.

I would like to have Mayor George Van Dusen, trustees and my family come up as the ribbon is cut.


Remarks of David Brezniak, Founder
Brezniak-Rodman Funeral Directors, West newton, MA
At the dedication of the Chicago Jewish Funerals Skokie Chapel
September 1, 2011

Distinguished clergy and colleagues that have come from all over the country, I would like to thank the Jacobson Family for allowing me to be part of this dedication.

David, this beautiful and warm chapel is a testament of your commitment to the Chicago Jewish community. Not that you needed to build this chapel to prove that commitment. David, you have demonstrated your dedication to the community since you arrived here from Utica, New York to the cold of Chicago. You certainly love challenging winters.

It is said that it’s not so important what you accomplish in life that matters, but what you overcame that proves who you really are.

When Service Corp. International of Houston, Texas purchased that firm that you had managed and dedicated your energies to for so many years, you soon realized like so many of our colleagues that had sold their businesses to a publically traded company, that though the name on the outside wouldn’t change, what happens on the inside is an entirely different story.

You knew that funeral service was more than crunching the numbers. That accountants and bean counters can’t direct funerals. That store front operations where the deceaseds are prepared in preparation centers miles and miles from the chapel was contrary to your core beliefs. That there was more to funeral service than spread sheets and monthly sales quotas in casket and vault sales.

To understand what it takes to be successful in funeral service is the very emphasis on the word “service”. Giving to families more than is expected. Commitment to compassionate care to the bereaved, making yourself always available to families no matter what time you are called upon. That is the essence of what we do.

You embarked on a journey. A journey that many said was impossible to achieve. How could you compete against the established names in the community that have been around for more than 100 years? But you found an opportunity in Buffalo Grove and there, in such a short period of time, you established a standard for Jewish funeral services.

This building, this chapel, no mater how beautiful it is, is only bricks and mortar. There are other beautiful buildings around the country. But no matter how beautiful the facility – if it lacks a soul and a purpose – the beauty is a façade. 

What really defines your company is the example of you. How you have instilled compassion to a dedicated staff and a mission on what funeral service should be – as your advertising so eloquently conveys.

Eleven years ago this week you and I met in New York with a small group of Jewish funeral directors, like ourselves, independents, family-owned entities.

At the first meeting of KAVOD – the National Funeral Directors, we gathered concerned about what we were witnessing around the country that the mainstream Jewish Funeral Directors Association was controlled by chains and from that meeting a small group turned into an organization. Under your leadership as its first president, you had the vision and guidance that today represents Jewish family-owned businesses from the United States and Canada that serves over 20,000 families a year.

This organization today, under the leadership of Jason Goldstein of Philadelphia and Atlantic City, who is here today, is successful because of the foundation that you established.

Our connection is a very personal one. Though I am a generation older, I have learned a great deal from you and for that I am grateful. The spirit of your brother is present today.
Michael was my “go-to” guy. When one of the families I served needed guidance and direction when a death occurred in Florida, he was always there to give them strength and help them through a difficult time. My dad loved your brother. When my father spent the winters in Florida, he would go into the chapel – as he would say brauch atone and sit with Michael. I’m sure Michael had a lot going on, but he would spend time with Dad who would talk about the funeral business as it was 60 years ago and Dad would say, “Michael’s like an old timer. He talks my talk.”

And when it was Michael whom I relied upon when Dad passed away, he was there for me, calming me down just like he helped my families.

When I would talk to Michael which could be 3-4 times a week, I would say, “Why don’t you move to Chicago?” He would say, “What are you crazy? It’s too cold!” Michael is always in my heart.

What will occur in this chapel will be a wide range of emotions:
There will be oceans of tears.
There will be enormous expressions of love.
There will be reuniting families.
And there will be hopefully resolving of conflicts within those families.

For all that takes place in this space, they have trusted you because you have listened to them and helped them in a very special way.

And that’s the way it should be.

Comments are closed.