Congregation Ahavath Sholom honored Elsie Blum for her 68 years of service to the shul at Shabbat services, Dec. 1. Linda Lavi, Ava Beleck, Blum, Marla Owen and Daniel Sturman coordinated the event.
Marvin Blum, Elsie’s son, paid tribute to her from the bimah.
“Picture in your mind a 19-year-old girl who had never lived outside her parents’ loving home, who moves to Fort Worth from Montgomery, Alabama, as a new bride,” he said. “She was raised by parents who set an example — they were deeply dedicated to their synagogue, and their home and their hearts were always open to the community.”
Blum said his mother came to Fort Worth 68 years ago knowing nobody but her husband, Julius, but she followed her parents’ example “and this shul became her family.”
She started her service to the synagogue as treasurer of the Hebrew School. She became the first woman on the Ahavath Shalom bima when she started a Yom Kippur tradition of speaking about the importance of Jewish education and to raise funds to run the Hebrew School. Her “Lady Bird Johnson-style Southern drawl” is still remembered, her son said.
For 52 years until Julius’ death, the Blums did almost all of their volunteer work at the shul, Marvin Blum said. “They were involved in almost everything going on up here.”
Afterward, her son said, “I often said that Mama remarried — she married the shul. She threw herself into her work up here with a fervor, seven days a week, more than a full-time job.”
She would help staff plan events and review catering events and Shabbat lunch, her son said. Elsie would “meet with families who were celebrating life events, plan menus and do the pricing for the events,” her son said.
“No task was beneath her,” he added. “She’d wash tablecloths, set tables, polish silver, you name it.
Marvin Blum also spoke about his mother’s life after her husband’s death: “When Daddy died, Mama became a role model for how to pick up the pieces of a broken heart and move on with your life,” he said. “I often said that she should write a how-to book on ‘How to be a Widow.’”
Two years ago, Blum scaled back on her work at CAS after son Irwin died, to run the family business, a distributor of meatpacking supplies.
“Once again, she became a the role model to show us how you have to go on with your life,” Marvin Blum said. “She told me it doesn’t ease the pain, it still hurts every single day, but you have to be resilient and keep on living.”
Elsie Blum said that she has been blessed with a long life, privileged to stand under the chuppah with grandchildren and witness great-grandchildren living a beautiful Jewish life.
“This shul is in my ‘neshomah,’ she added. “Whatever I have accomplished has been a labor of love. I am the beneficiary. Anyone who gives of himself for a good cause gets back far more than he gives. I have never sought to be honored. When one lives with a purpose, it makes life meaningful.
“It is my prayer that my beloved Ahavath Sholom will grow from strength to strength and serve as a source of inspiration for the entire Fort Worth community, l’dor v’dor — from generation to generation.”