Each year, for more years than I can recall, I have offered a blessing to our oldest congregant at Temple Israel of Hollywood, Pearl Berg. Pearl is the oldest human being I have ever known. I met her 31 years ago when she was a spry 79 years old.
As the LA Times story in Saturday’s edition (February 1, 2020) notes (link below), there are perhaps 1000 people in the world who reach 110 years of age.
Pearl is still sharp, though “slowing down a bit,” according to her son Bob Berg of Washington, D.C.. Either Bob (age 79) or his older brother, Dr. Allan Berg of Philadelphia (age 82), come to visit their mother most every week.
Pearl is a marvel not only because of her age, but because she remains a positive clear-thinking kind woman whose wit and sense of humor is a constant, who welcomes graciously all visitors, who reads every day, and plays gin rummy remembering the cards her opponent picks up – most of the time. Last June as I prepared to retire and assume Emeritus status at my synagogue, Pearl came to bid me farewell at my final service. Her appearance was one of the highlights of my last year of 40 years as a congregational rabbi.
My connection with Pearl and her family precedes my own birth. Pearl’s husband Mark (z’l) employed my mother in the early 1940s as an office worker in his Los Angeles scrap metal business when she was 25 years old. When Mark died 30 years ago and I prepared my eulogy, my mother told me that Mark was the kindest of bosses. When she departed from his business to volunteer at an army base in San Luis Obispo during World War II, Mark gave her a going-away office party. She never forgot it. My mother died 4 years ago at age of 98, and I thought that she was old – a youngster compared with Pearl.
Happy Birthday Pearl! We looking forward to celebrating your 111th birthday next year.