Remembering Uncle Al 10/29/1920 – 06/18/2022

View Alvin’s memorial website here

‘Uncle Al’ Kaufman, from Minnesota

Age 101 ½ , passed away peacefully Shabbat morning, June 18, 2022. Alvin is survived by his beloved wife of 78 years, Audrey. Survived by children, Ronald and Pamela Kaufman, Barbara Fieldman and Stephen and Madeleine Kaufman; grandchildren Justin (Jenny), Craig (Leigh) Kimberly (Jake), Arielle (Ohad), David (Melissa), Ethan (Ashleigh), Matthew (Alyson) and Sharon (Jeremy); 15 great grandchildren; sister, Arlene Sweet; and many nieces and nephews. Al was a devoted husband and father who adored and took great pride in his children, grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. He was the owner of Amsterdam Diamond Cutters and Importers for over 50 years. A committed member of Beth El Synagogue, Al was active in the Men’s Club and attended daily morning minyan following retirement. Al was a consummate volunteer. He received an award for over 4000 volunteer hours at the VA and over 70 years of service with the Masonic Lodge. He was Past President of the downtown Lions Club, facilitated transportation rides for JFCS and STEP, served as an election judge and worked at the Special Olympics. Many thanks to Buster, Estella, Sam, Lanika, Kartoh, and Queenie for their devoted care. Al loved a good meal and a good joke. He was a kind and generous man and will be dearly missed. Funeral service 11:00 AM on MONDAY, June 20th at the UNITED HEBREW BROTHERHOOD CEMETERY CHAPEL, 2605 W. 70 ½ St., Richfield. Funeral available on zoom, email [email protected] for link. Donations in Al’s memory may be directed to the Alvin and Audrey Funds at Beth El Synagogue, JFCS, or Shalom Home Foundation. SHIVA 7:00 PM on Monday and Tuesday in the community room at 3000 St, Albans Mill Rd., Minnetonka.

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Dear Ron (and Pam) and family 

I thought you gave a wonderful send-off to Uncle Al. He deserved it, of course, and you well represented the family with your expression, I would think (I never thought it necessary to have 10 different people come up and essentially say the same thing in honor of someone). You capsulized everything, as well as one can capsulize 101. 5 years of a quality life. 

You spoke of Uncle Al as being part of that ‘greatest generation’ Tom Brokaw wrote about. yes, I agree with you that that generation WAS the greatest and Uncle Al personified it as well as anyone . From his time serving our country to all the philanthropic contributions he made to his volunteering at the vets, temple and beyond is incredible. He never really stopped working, he just rechanneled his efforts to these good causes while looking after his growing family including more distant relatives, like me. 

Many have pointed to Uncle Al’s calm demeaner and humbleness, which becomes even clearer in stark contrast to more recent ‘me’ generation(s). Will never forget those weekly, Sunday night calls we’d receive from Uncle Al. Unlike many adults who would call my Dad, especially after his stroke and prolonged illness, Uncle Al would take time to talk to me and ask how I was ‘holding up.’ This impressed me no end. We became like phone friends and after Dad passed, Uncle Al would continue to call me regularly to see how I was doing and to share family news and talk about life, religion and politics – with the latter two forboten topics for many but with Uncle Al one could talk about most anything and no fights would ensue.   

Until these later times, I never really got to know Uncle Al. Dad was a few years older and perhaps wasn’t with him growing up so much or just didn’t share with me. So, I got to know Uncle Al, personally, through conversations and experiences. After Dad passed away, Uncle Al, now in his nineties, even came out to visit.  Uncle Al became to me like a surrogate father, but more than that, he also seemed as much of a friend . We could talk at length about all topics and I learned more about the Kaufman family and lineage that my Dad may have never known or forgotten. Not to say my Dad didn’t have a lot of his own stories –enough to write a book we were going to do at one point – but with Uncle Al the stories came from the perspective of a younger brother (to my Dad) and another voice. Another part of his ‘retirement’ was developing the ‘family tree.’ 

When my Dad passed almost a decade ago (unlike Uncle Al, I’m bad with things like directions, time, etc.) we received literally a flood of charitable donations, most coming via Minneapolis. These were people I did not know but had ‘Jewish names,’ if you will. It was easy to figure out that Uncle Al got word out that ‘Jerry Kaufman of Minneapolis 1952’ had passed and gave out the charity donation info. It was not only nice to know that this many people (or perhaps offspring) remembered my Dad. We don’t have nearly the close-knit community in California you do in Minnesota. My Dad would have surely been moved with the response. But, that was just one example of Uncle Al and his kind, charitable way. From a personal standpoint, Uncle Al’s efforts resulted in a near doubling of the charitable donations in memory of Dad. I hope I conveyed my appreciation to Uncle Al at the time. 

I think its about time our generation started responding to what Tom Brokaw wrote about so well. Not only did Uncle Al and his generation have it harder, with having to deal with the War and its effects,but the old expression ‘pulling oneself up by his/her bootstraps’ . I certainly learned a lot from Uncle Al  

And took on an increased appreciation of that generation – something our generation doesn’t seem to have followed through with. We’ve had it good, by comparison, with no major wars, better economies, etc. Yet we somehow still lack that gratitude and humbleness we see in people like Uncle Al, especially Uncle Al. The world could use more ‘Uncle Als’. But there was really only one. 

  I will miss him and those kind ways of his. Growing up, we seemed to be reassured by calming support and guidance from ‘our elders.’ Now, we are the ‘elders’ and not sure our baby boomer generation  is doing the job that we inherited from the great generation. With th is in mind, I will especially miss Uncle Al, no longer with such a presence to turn to. Even as we are older and, supposedly, more mature, there’s nothing like that kind reassurance we received growing up.  

I’ve missed not being able to talk with Uncle Al so much in recent months. I was sorry to see what he has had to go through, losing much of his independence in recent months since his stroke last year. It was becoming increasingly difficult for him to speak on the phone and he would sleep more. I wasn’t about to complain. Just getting to age 100 is an achievement. But, I did get to have some nice conversations with Aunt Audrey, while feeling bad for her own health issues while having to deal with Uncle Al’s increasing difficulties , and then covid. So, I kept my calls to a minimum, but was always thinking of them and greatful that they were still around. Now I will like to continue making occasional calls to Aunt Audrey if she doesn’t mind – just to say hello and get news on the family just as Uncle Al and given me before. 

It’s been disheartening of late to lose so many people, some probably needlessly, to covid and other things from drugs to violence. I sometimes wonder if the value of life has been diminished. One passes away and may be celebrated one day and forgotten the next. I don’t think that will or should be the case with Uncle Al. I also feel certain people have been put on earth as a sort of gift from God, if you will- and corny as it may sound. I think Uncle Al is one of those people. From what I gather there are dozens if not hundreds or thousands besides myself, whose lives he touched and enhanced.  

So, this is not goodbye to Uncle Al but so-long for now. He will always be a part of me/us , as we draw on his parting gifts with which he has enriched our lives, as we continue  our own journeys through life.  

With love, cares and prayers, 

California Kaufmans (via Burt)