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In Memoriam - Alan Mark Lampert (January 6, 1955 - January 9, 1981)
Alan Lampert was never a member of Shomrei Emunah himself. His connection to the shul was through his parents, Sam and Esther, who joined the congregation when they moved to Montclair from Long Island in 1976. Their two sons, Alan and his brother Jordan, had already left the nest. Alan, a lanky six-footer, sweet and gentle, was at college in upstate New York, with hopes of becoming a writer.
By 1981, Alan was about to receive his doctorate in medieval history from the University of Pennsylvania. He stayed in close touch with his parents, calling frequently and attending yomtov services with them at Shomrei on his visits home. When his parents found it impossible to reach him at his apartment in Philadelphia, they soon learned to their horror that he had died in his sleep. No cause of death was ever determined. He had just turned 26.
Sam, a mechanical engineer, and Esther, a nurse, yoga instructor and herbalist, asked Rabbi Perry Rank for a way to memorialize their son’s name and keep it alive. “He was a budding brain,” Sam says. “He was a very erudite young man. He was going to be a writer. He had a lot of promise. Unfortunately he never was able to achieve that.”
The Lamperts expected to be urged to donate something for the sanctuary. But when the rabbi heard them talk about Alan – a voracious reader who had collected comic books as a boy, wanted to become a novelist, and was studying Old English, Celtic, and Hebrew literature in the original – he suggested helping to underwrite the overhaul of the library, which needed it desperately.
“We thought it was marvelous,” Sam says. “It was a match. It was bashert.”
The Lamperts moved to a townhouse in Wayne, N.J., in 1994, but they remain associate members of Shomrei Emunah, and they continue as benefactors of the Lampert Library.
“What’s the point of having a memorial, which we want to be a living memorial, if it doesn’t do what it’s supposed to do?” Sam says. “Funding is always difficult in a synagogue. We feel it’s incumbent on us, if we want it to be a significant memorial: if it needs our help, we give our help. It’s a no-brainer. It’s important to know that his name is ongoing.”
As much as they give to the library, Sam and Esther say their contributions pale next to Aileen’s. “Without Aileen, it wouldn’t work,” he says. “She is unbelievable: her dedication, her love, her time. Without her there would not be a library.”
Thanks to Aileen, Sam says, Alan’s memory lives on: “He’s gone, but he’s not gone.”