Beth El hosts a full house for “Rabbi Aaron Krauss Day”
March 26, 2017, was officially declared “Rabbi Aaron Krauss Day” by the City of Margate. So said Margate Mayor Mike Becker to the more than 200 people who attended a lunch at Beth El Synagogue on that day to honor the rabbi for his recent honorary doctorate from Stockton University as well as his lifetime of community service and activism.
Rabbi Krauss Day was a joyous day full of fond remembrances about a man whose commitment to improving his community has left an indelible imprint, both on his community and on the many, many people whose lives he has touched. The rabbi, sitting at a table surrounded by his family, greeted a constant stream of well wishers throughout the luncheon.
“I want to personally thank Rabbi Krauss for what he has done for my family,” said Alisa Cooper of the NJ Casino Control Commission, who cochaired the event along with Jane Stark. “He has been there in good times and in bad times, in sickness and in health,” she added, voicing a sentiment shared by many in the room.
Local radio personality John
Spatz, who served as the luncheon’s master of ceremonies, shared a memory of walking on the boardwalk in Ocean City with Rabbi Krauss, past the Mayflower Hotel, just after it became Stockton University’s first home. Seeing the students hanging around the hotel, Rabbi Krauss beamed with pride. Spatz speculated it was very likely that one of the students was Harvey Kesselman, a member of Stockton’s first graduating class who is now university president.
Dr. Kesselman, who presented Krauss with an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree at Stockton’s winter commencement ceremony in December, also presented the rabbi with framed photos from the commencement at the luncheon. “I cannot overstate how important Rabbi Krauss was to the founding of Stockton,” stressed Kesselman.
“Rabbi, it simply would not have happened without you. Eleven thousand alumni from this county owe you a debt. Rabbi Krauss lobbied legislators… he fought, fought and continued to fight,” said Kesselman, who added that Krauss was “critical to gathering 200 acres of land…so we ended up with the most beautiful parcel of land of any college in our state.”
Atlantic City mayor Don Guardian agreed. “When Rabbi Krauss comes in a room, I feel my blood pressure go down,” he joked. “I’m always learning while in his presence.”
Kaleem Shabazz, Atlantic City Councilman and long-time community activist, first came to know Rabbi Krauss as a student at Rutgers. Shabazz interned for an organization the rabbi helped start called Atlantic Human Resources, which Shabazz described as “a group of programs and initiatives that gave people a ladder out of poverty and into the middle class.”
“Thank you for all you’ve done and continue to do for Atlantic County,” he told Krauss.
In response to all who sang his praises at the luncheon, Rabbi Krauss joked, “it’s wonderful to hear these exaggerations about me. My mother would have believed every word!”