This summer, the Cuban Hebrew Congregation Temple Beth Shmuel honored my mother, Ofelia Ruder, for her 50 years of service to this community. United States Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen read into the May 7, 2012 Congressional Record of the 112th Congress a message honoring my mother for her years of service to the community. My mother and my father, Max, came to this country in 1961 from Cuba, where she was born. A year later my father passed away. As a 32-year old widow, my mother faced the difficult task of raising two sons in an unfamiliar country whose language she didn’t speak.
Despite these daunting circumstances, she began working with the Cuban Hebrew Congregation. Even though she has suffered some recent health challenges, she continues to work there on a full-time schedule. She’s considered to be the pillar of the congregation.
During this time she has been a mother, daughter, sister, friend, counselor, and more to many in the community. She has organized successful fundraisers for varied worthwhile projects. She has enthusiastically coordinated joyful events such as weddings, and she has helped many in not so happy times, as when she has been called at home to help a family arrange a funeral.
Never an 8-to-5, Monday-through-Friday person, my mother nevertheless has always made herself available to others regardless of the hour or the day. Yet she also found the time to be our family’s leader.
Her story reaches out beyond the Cuban Jewish community as she has always helped anyone who needs it, no matter their religious or ethnic background. She instilled in my brother and me a spirit of community involvement and a sense of responsibility for helping others. This is probably why he and I chose careers in public service: I have dedicated over 30 years of my life to local government service including my past work as a City of Miami administrator and my current duties as a Town of Bay Harbor Islands Councilman. My brother, Bernie, recently retired as a Miami Beach Police Department Sergeant after more than 23 years of service.
My mother is an exemplary individual whom I always strive to emulate. Many people throughout my lifetime have expressed to me their regret for not having communicated more often with their parents while they were alive.
My message to Herald readers: Be sure you honor your parents every precious day of their lives. You will never regret it!
Albert Ruder, Bay Harbor Islands