Long Beach Jewish community celebrates the life of philanthropist Barbara Alpert at public memorial service


Kristen Naeem | Signal Tribune

Barbara Alpert's family members retold their favorite stories about her to the crowd at her public memorial on Tuesday, Nov. 26 at the Alpert Jewish Community Center.

Long Beach resident and philanthropist, Barbara Alpert, passed away on Sunday, Nov. 24. Friends and family hosted a public memorial service on Tuesday, Nov. 26.

The service began with everyone standing to participate in a Jewish prayer that asked God to watch over both the soul of the late Barbara as well as her bereaved loved ones.

Barbara and her husband, Ray Alpert, were supporters of the Alpert Jewish Community Center in Long Beach, which was named in their honor, as well as the local Jewish community in general. Ray passed away five years ago.

Barbara passed away after experiencing a bout of pneumonia. She did not accept visitors outside of her family in her final weeks, but her family assured the crowded room that Barbara knew how much the community cared for her so no one should regret not getting to say their final goodbyes.

“I know for many, this was very sudden unexpected,” Barbara’s daughter, Nancy, said. “And you wish you could have had that last chance to see her. but she was very clear about not wanting visitors. She was fighting an infection and pneumonia and all her energy went into that. […] However, so much has been said, so many honoring parties and visits and phone calls and meal deliveries. You have to know that she knew how much people care.”

Her children, their spouses and her grandchildren took turns speaking about Barbara for over two hours at the memorial service held at the Alpert Jewish Community Center on Tuesday. Her family had a running joke throughout the event, in which everyone who came up to speak first introduced themselves to the crowd as Barbara’s favorite.

Barbara’s granddaughter Michelle told the crowd that instead of using their financial success to live luxuriously, Barbara and Ray Alpert used their money to travel and help the community. Michelle then read aloud a letter that Barbara wrote to her family on a flight during a trip to Thailand and Myanmar.

“Now you all mean so much to me,” Barbara’s letter reads, in part. “My wish has always been for you to stay healthy. And I love being with you […] all together. I would like to say so much, and I have said so little. […] I hope you have lucky, healthy and loved lives. There is nothing else I want. Love you too much.”

Barbara and Ray Alpert donated $1 million to Cal State Long Beach’s Jewish Studies Department to create the Barbara and Ray Alpert Endowed Chair in Jewish Studies, which is currently lead by Dr. Jeffrey Blutinger and works to analyze aspects of Jewish culture, such as religion and literature, through multiple disciplines, according to CSULB’s website.

“Grandma and Grandpa’s generosity open up doors for us,” Michelle said. “Allowing us access to life changing opportunities in education and health. I’m forever grateful to them for their investment in our lives.”

The service was ended with a prayer in Hebrew and a song by Barbara Alpert’s music group, The Barbara Alpert Chorus, which meets at the Alpert Jewish Community Center on Wednesdays at 10:30am. Barabara had been a long time member and regularly participated in the chorus.

As the chorus sang, a projector played a slideshow of pictures from Barbara’s life on the large screen at the front of the hall.

Those who wish to view a recording of the service can do so by clicking here.