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Published: Monday, 11/16/2009

WWII veteran was director at local synagogue

Jay S. Glassman, former executive director for Congregation B'nai Israel in Sylvania and later the director of the Toledo Jewish Cemetery Association, died Saturday at the Cedar Village Assisted Living in southwest Ohio's Mason. He was 90.

Mr. Glassman was diagnosed with a form of blood cancer last year, his son, Michael Glassman, said.

In the 20 years he spent with Congregation B'nai Israel, Mr. Glassman supervised the synagogue finances and staff and managed the details of weddings, funerals, and bar and bat mitzvahs.

His two children were grown when he took the job in the 1970s, and Mr. Glassman often stayed late into the evening and worked weekends, his family said.

"He went above and beyond in terms of hours he put in there," his son, Michael, said. "He worked incredibly hard whatever he did to do the best job he could at everything."

Mr. Glassman, who lived in Toledo most of his life, was a gentle, sensitive person who had an obvious talent with people facing stressful or emotional events, said longtime friend Rabbi Edward Garsek of the Congregation Etz Chayim in Toledo, which was Mr. Glassman's synagogue.

"He just had that knack of knowing how to deal with people," Rabbi Garsek said.

Mr. Glassman's wife of 40 years, Shirley, died after he retired from B'nai in 1990.

He kept busy by attending daily services at Etz Chayim and taking another full-time job at the Toledo Jewish Cemetery Association, his daughter, Susan Kaufman said.

He continued working at the cemetery association until two days before he relocated to Cincinnati last year.

Mr. Glassman frequently received invitations for dinner or religious celebrations at the homes of synagogue members, the rabbi said.

He was a gracious guest, and often thanked his hosts with flowers afterward.

"It was just very easy to develop a closeness," the rabbi said.

"He was a very open personality. He was sensitive to people. When a new person would come in [to synagogue], he would be the one to come up and welcome them. Just a very caring person."

Mr. Glassman was born in Toledo and graduated from Scott High School in 1937. He was a child when his father, Samuel, died.

In World War II, he spent four years in the U.S. Army, serving in the Philippines and attaining the rank of sergeant before he was honorably discharged in 1946. Mr. Glassman returned to the Toledo area to help his mother support his three siblings, his family said.

He was a member of the Jewish men's fraternal organization, B'nai B'rith, and the Veterans of Foreign Wars Post 6909.

Surviving are his son, Michael, daughter, Susan Kaufman, five grandchildren, and a great-grandchild.

Services will be at 1 p.m. today at the Robert H. Wick/Wisniewski Funeral Home.

The family suggests tributes to Congregation Etz Chayim, Cedar Village Assisted Living in Mason, Ohio, or Hospice of Cincinnati.



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