Highlighting: “As a Ram Yearns for the Brook: The Journey of a Father and Son,” by Daniel Ritholtz. 2020. 198 pages. ISBN 13: 979-8602889772.
Daled Tishrei, this year falling on Tuesday, September 22, marked the sixth yahrzeit of beloved Teaneck resident Bruce Ritholtz, z”l. On the first day of Rosh Hashanah in 2014, in the presence of family and dear friends from Congregation Rinat Yisrael who came to his hospital bedside to blow the shofar, Ritholtz closed his eyes and prepared to return his neshama to Hashem. Throughout his valiant one-and-a-half-year battle with pancreatic cancer, Ritholtz was stoic and strong, to the amazement of his family and doctors. He often spoke of writing a book about emunah and connectedness to God. Unfortunately, the ravages of his illness did not allow him to fulfill this wish.
Daniel Ritholtz picked up on his father’s dream, and on September 22, his work of tribute to his late father, “As a Ram Yearns for the Brook: The Journey of a Father and Son,” was brought to light and is now available for purchase on Amazon and Kindle. And on Motzei Shabbat, September 26, at 9 p.m., Congregation Rinat Yisrael will host a book launch via Zoom for this debut work in which Daniel paints a portrait of a father-son relationship set in the modern Orthodox world of the 21st century. Through letters and emails, some real and some imagined, the young Ritholtz writes of his childhood growing up in a family fully committed to the Jewish community, whether it be in Manhattan or Teaneck, to which the family moved in 2010.
Daniel Ritholtz, 24, is completing his last year of semicha at the Rabbi Elchanan Theological Seminary as well as a master’s at the Bernard Revel Graduate School of Yeshiva University. He hopes to attend law school following his ordination. His mother, Michelle, formerly a pharmacist, volunteers at an aphasia center. His older sister, Annie Goldberg, works as a nurse at a breast center affiliated with Mt. Sinai Hospital, while his younger sister, Talia, is studying data analytics at Baruch College. The Ritholtz family was very supportive of the project and reviewed Daniel’s manuscript when it was completed last year.
Teaneck’s Rabbi Jacob J. Schacter, professor of Jewish history and thought at Yeshiva University and a friend of the Ritholtz family, also reviewed the manuscript. Schacter offered praise for the newly issued tribute: “Alternatively sad and funny, expressing joyous gratitude and aching sadness, this profoundly moving and very thoughtfully written work addresses universal issues of adolescence, loss, faith and the father-son bond in a powerful way…This touching memoir will inspire children of all ages to appreciate and cherish the blessings their fathers—and mothers—are for them. And it will inspire parents to invest deeply in the blessing of their relationships with their children.”
Bruce Ritholtz, z”l, grew up in a traditional home in Plainview, Long Island. He earned a law degree from Hofstra Law School but only practiced briefly before joining his father as a commodities trader on Wall Street. While living with his family in Manhattan, Bruce was an active member of the Lincoln Square Synagogue, serving on the capital campaign committee for the new shul building. He was also actively involved on the board of Manhattan Day School. Upon moving to Teaneck, Bruce became involved in the Rinat community as well as several local educational institutions.
According to the younger Ritholtz, “My father’s honesty, sincerity and easygoing nature made him a valued member of fundraising teams and many community committees. During shiva, a co-worker shared that [he] was known as the most ethical member of the New York Stock Exchange.”
Daniel shared that he never had aspirations of becoming a writer. This project of writing a tribute to his father was a therapeutic process in which he engaged even during finals. Daniel realizes that had his father written the book he intended, it would have been a mixture of philosophy and dealing with a dreaded disease. In one of his chapters, Daniel includes verbatim the siyum that his father delivered to family and friends at Rinat on October 27, 2013, which was a masterpiece of chizuk, belief and bitachon. Throughout his work, Daniel addresses issues of father-son relationships as well as loss, faith and Judaism through the lens of his Modern Orthodox upbringing.
A portion of the proceeds from the sale of “As a Ram Yearns for the Brook” will be donated to the Lustgarten Foundation, which focuses on scientific and clinical research into the diagnosis, treatment and prevention of pancreatic cancer. An additional portion of the proceeds will be donated to Refuat Hanefesh, an organization that aims to create more understanding, awareness and empathy for people in the Jewish community living with mental illness.
The community is invited to the upcoming book launch to be Zoomed on Saturday night, September 26, at 9 p.m., at zoom.us/j/4653630025. To call in, dial 1-929-205-6099. Meeting ID: 465 363 0025. Password: 8372795.
To purchase a softcover volume of “As a Ram Yearns for the Brook” go to Amazon and type in the book name in search bar or Kindle using ISBN:979-8-6028-8977-2. For more information, visit the website at www.asarambook.com or email www.asarambook.com.
By Pearl Markovitz