Eulogy of the late Joe Fintz
Yosef Ben Yakov
לך נא ראה את שלום אחיך””
“Go now, look into the welfare of your brethren”, sai Yakov Avinu to his son Yosef Hatzadik.
Today we are saying farewell to Joe Fintz. Joe’s passing is a great loss for us all. As a stranger, new to Cape Town, the first person I’ve been taken to see was Joe, and I thank Mr Shlomo Mazor, present chairman of our congregation for introducing us both as that interaction really warmed my heart. I felt comfortable with Joe and secure about the community I was about to join. My experiences with Joe always seemed personal, I saw a confident, reliable, and wise man sitting in front of me.
I was therefore not surprised to learn what a beloved father he was to Sam, Aron, Vivienne, Julia, and Lauren. The great bond he had with his son in law Richard, and the endless love expressed to his beautiful grandchildren. He really cared for them all and wanted only for their best.
Joe and Karen complimented each other very well. Karen was a true gift in his life. Whatever Joe accomplished in the last 41 years, he would not have done without Karen. And next week is actually the date of their 41st anniversary. Their home was open to guests, Friday night meals with 20 people seated at their table was not uncommon. An Eshet Chayil, a women of valour that stood beside him in his times of illness always caring and taking the extra measure for his well-being. I can full heartedly tag the verse said by King Solomon “Batach Bah Lev Ba’ala” onto you Karen, as your husband put his heart in your caring arms of comfort and warmth.
Who was Joe Fintz?
Joe was born in Zimbabwe in 1939, came down here in 1971 and was very successful in everything that he did. He was a brilliant business man and worked out the mathematics of every deal very quickly. It’s said about Joe that whatever he touched turned to gold. What was his secret, what made him so successful? Joe went the extra mile to get what he wanted, when he had an idea he would take it till the end. He was also unbelievably committed to achieving his goals but at the same time a very loving person. His staff loved him and would come visit him in his latest days. Joe always cared about his employees and tried making their lives better. They are all here today and that shows their fond memories and feelings towards him.
Joe was not only a special husband, employer and father to his children, he was the father to the Sephardi Community of Cape Town.
Joe brought structure to the Sephardi community. Before Joe came on board we had a synagogue, but once he arrived he made it a congregation. He was very colonial, he brought the British mentality along with him from Zimbabwe and set the tone for the Kehila by establishing a proper committee, setting a chairman and trustees that would eventually form a prosperous and strong family of members. Joe was chairman of our synagogue for 8 combined years and brought order to the Bet Kenneset. In actual fact he is the one to thank for the very building we dwell in as he ensured we have a proper and kosher Mechitza and sought after the decorum of the synagogue by purchasing the mounted seats we have today and seeing to its perfection. That was his way- when Joe had to do something he had to do it right- he wouldn’t compromise for anything but the best.
But he was more than that. Joe had a vision that very few people had. He wasn’t afraid of innovation, of trying something new. Joe played a definitive role in the establishment of the United Orthodox Synagogues of South Africa, merging the council with the Federation of Synagogues in Johannesburg. He was one of the visionaries who encouraged and materially facilitated the establishment of the Yeshiva of Cape Town more than 21 years ago, an event which made possible the huge strides in Torah and Judaism which today is part and parcel of the Jewish scene in Cape Town. He was accountable for Kashrut matters as Chairman of the board of Shechita and knew what needed to be done.
Joe was part of the community of Cape Town and the community was an integral part of Joe. He joined the Council of the United Hertzelia schools, became Chairman of the school and continued after wards as a member in the school’s board of Governors. Joe later motivated to appoint a Rabbi for the Jewish studies in Hertzelia, which opened the door to the dati personnel at Hetzelia. He joined the SA Board of Deputies and became chairman. He was associated with the growth of the Boards’ Bursary Fund that helps students that lack the funds attend University till this very day. If Joe was ever missing funds he would shop around and come back with something.
Joe was also the driving force behind the establishment of the Cemetery Maintenance Board resulting in the upgrading of this very cemetery. There is no doubt of Joe’s invaluable contribution to our Kehila and to the Jewish community in general. He is an inspiration to us all and an example to be followed. For everything you have done for the sake of our Kehila and for the Jewish community, we want to thank you Joe. This town would certainly not be the same without you Joe.
לך נא ראה את שלום אחיך
Joe, you have always looked for the well-being of your brethren in Ha’olam Haze, in this world. Now go and join your brethren Ba’olam Haba, in the world to come.