In sports, there’s a type of player who, although they might not be a celebrity, do crucial things that make them an important part of the team. They do the things that might not show up in the box score: they throw to the cutoff man, or they back up the throw; they hit behind the runner, lay down a perfect sacrifice bunt, pass to the open shooter,. Those players, it is said, possess the “intangibles.” In Yiddish, those kinds of guys are called a “mensch.” And, by all accounts, Peter Weintraub, who died Oct. 18 at the age of 75, was a mensch.
On paper, Weintraub led a good life: He worked for 48 years as a financial adviser at Paine Weber and UBS (where he was named to the firm’s prestigious President’s Council), loved his wife of 30 years, Sarah, daughters Lauren and Ariela and stepdaughter Jennifer, and grandchildren Ella, Georgia and Benjamin, all of whom survive him.
But that doesn’t explain why more than 500 people showed up to pay their respects at his funeral. What does explain it is that Peter Weintraub (or “Petey,” as he was known to friends) was, as Rabbi Aryeh Markman, executive director of Aish LA recalled, “a human being whose whole life was devoted to giving to others …a man of true chesed.” Knowing Weintraub, Markman said, was to receive the “gift of his friendship and his loyalty — without (his) asking anything in return, day in and day out, under even the most adverse circumstances.” He possessed what friend Lauren Kest called “a quiet greatness.”
“A human being whose whole life was devoted to giving to others … a man of true chesed.” — Rabbi Aryeh Markman
The memories that his friends shared of Weintraub bore this out. They told stories of Weintraub driving friends to chemotherapy — several times a week; of his flying to San Francisco to lend moral support before a friend’s big presentation; taking his childrens’ phone calls at any and all times, even while he was in an important meeting, and not ending the call until the problem was sorted out.
Even as his health declined, his generosity remained robust. Once, while being transported to a hospital, he pulled off his oxygen mask to ask the paramedics treating him what station they worked out of because he wanted to send them a gift of gratitude. As one of the mourners commented, “It was the first funeral I’ve been to where everything said was true.”
For Kest, Weintraub’s greatest achievement was that he “made so many people in the community understand how a lifetime spent building small gestures of kindness and compassion can grow into a monumental mountain.” And because Weintraub was not one to call attention to his good deeds, “none of us who knew and loved him fully appreciated the magnitude until he was gone,” she added. Looking at his life, Kest told the Journal, Weintraub “gave us a powerful lesson about kindness and how we all have the ability to change and heal the world.”