Readers Write: Berkowitz: daughter, wife, mother, friend

The Island Now

I have the distinction of knowing both Michael Glickman and Barbara Berkowitz, and I absolutely can’t understand where his vitriolic, unfounded treatment of Barbara Berkowitz comes from! I’ve known Barbara Berkowitz for 39 years, almost as long as Mr. Glickman has been alive, and I’ll tell you about the real Barbara Berkowitz.

I’ve known Barbara thru good times and bad: births, deaths, illnesses, and the challenges that life throws our way. I first met Barbara when our children were in a playgroup together as toddlers in a mommy’s group.

I was immediately drawn to her compassion and her sense of humor. We came to know details of each other’s lives and, eventually, become so intertwined that we were “the family one chooses,” as they say.

Whenever a parent or in-law passed away, she was the first person to be by my side. She and her wonderful husband, Barry, were there to hold our hands throughout the sad days, just as they celebrated every joyous occasion with us: New Year’s Eve, Halloween, birthdays, bar/bat mitzvahs, and retirements.

Whenever we needed something, Barbara was there for us, and she and Barry quickly became the center of our entire group of friends.

We loved Barbara’s mother by extension and shared her pain when her mother could no longer be taken care of at home and required a move to a nursing home which Barbara visited daily until Covid struck. No mother could ever ask for a better or more devoted daughter than Barbara!

When Barbara and Barry married, he was a widower, and Barbara raised his daughter as though she had been her child by birth. That’s Barbara: she cares for each child as though he/she were her own, which is why Mr. Glickman’s charge that since she no longer has a child in GNPS and, therefore, can’t know how it feels to worry about a child’s well-being, is one that is so incredibly absurd and insulting.

If he knew anything at all about Barbara, he would have realized this.

Barbara and Barry also doted on their son, and, along with his academic and career successes, he is the kindest, nicest person, and everyone who knows him would attest to this. As they say, “the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree!”

So now that you’ve heard a snippet of Barbara as a friend, daughter, and mother, let me tell you about Barbara, the wife.

Barbara’s husband passed away unexpectedly in 2020. To say that this was devastating to Barbara (and to us all) is the understatement of the decade! Barbara spoke of his unwavering love and devotion, as well as his support, as she eulogized him. Each eulogy given spoke of their love and his enormous pride in Barbara’s school board service. I can only imagine how absolutely furious Barry would have been to read Mr. Glickman’s horrendous description of her in a letter he sent to the newspapers, as “ordinary.”

Nobody would ever describe Barbara Berkowitz (nicknamed “Wonder Woman”) as ordinary! He would have been so hurt to read this, and all the other insults hurled, as he knew of her devotion to the school district and to the community.

While Barbara mourned his loss, as did we, her friends, it felt like much of the school district and community were mourning as well, as the respect she has earned in Great Neck is widespread and so well-deserved.

Throughout this difficult personal time, Barbara’s unwavering commitment to the school district and the community never faltered. The families of Great Neck are imbedded deeply in her heart and soul and, thru it all, she never lets them down. Don’t we owe her the same loyalty to not let her down in the upcoming school board election?

This is exactly the kind of person you want representing the Great Neck Public Schools. This is the kind of person you want doing what’s right for your children. And this is the person you know to be honest, humble, responsive, strong, caring, and knowledgeable. A true leader. One who knows how to bring people together, not tear them apart.

The choice is crystal clear. On May 11, vote with your head and your heart, and vote for Barbara Berkowitz.

Gale C. Zeidman
New Hyde Park

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