Albert (Anshel) Klass, a”h, lea a long and unique life. He passed away a few weeks ago at the age of 105, but what was even more remarkable than his longevity was the fact that he remained active and productive into his final years after having played a key role in the initial success of The Jewish Press.
More important to him, Reb Anshel made a tremendous contribution to the members of five generations of the extended Klass family. These included his parents, siblings, children, grandchildren, great-grandchildren, cousins, nieces, nephews and their children as well. His family was his pride and joy, and he served it as a living role model of a Torah-imbued personality.
His life was an example of Torah, middos and humility in action. He showed the deepest respect for his fellow man by scrupulously observing the mitzvos of shmiras halashon. He never spoke ill of anyone and was meticulous in expressing his sincere appreciation for everything he had, and for everyone who cared for him. He told one of his grandchildren that at the end of each day he took time to review everything he said or did to make sure he had not hurt anyone’s feelings.
According to his son, Rabbi Yaakov Klass, Reb Anshel was constantly aware of his responsibilities as a Jew, and never wasted an opportunity to live up to them, to the last moments of his very long life. He cherished the opportunity to perform every mitzvah with true joy, from giving tzedakah to singing zemiros at the Shabbos table.
Albert Klass did everything carefully and methodically, conscious that those he would meet in the course of his work would judge him as an example of what a religious Jew is like. Despite his modest means, he always presented an attractive image, dressed meticulously, complete with a tie, shined shoes and manicured hands.
His niece, Naomi Mauer, said with admiration, “Uncle Albie was a true gentleman,” both in the way he looked and in the way he acted.
He was neat and orderly in every aspect of his life, including keeping careful track of every grandchild and great-grandchild’s birthday. He used to keep the dates written down on a piece of paper in his wallet, and referred to it often so as not to miss an opportunity to give his eineklach a mazel tov.
He saw it as his mission to convey his love and compassion to every member of his family. He carefully listened to every child and young person and encouraged them, as his son, Arthur said, “to find and follow their own the paths and dreams.” When they couldn’t come to see him in person, he always welcomed receiving their phone calls, which he would always end by saying, with great sincerity, “Thanks for calling. Take care, darling.”
He was a man of modest means, but, according to his grandson, Moshe Klass, when Reb Anshel spoke to others, he would frequently refer to himself as a “millionaire” because of the nachas he got from his grandchildren and great-grandchildren.
He attended every family simcha with great pride and enjoyed the many summers which The Jewish Press families spent together at the Homowack Hotel in the Catskills. He cherished every opportunity for family bonding and making lasting memories that spanned the generations.
His grandchildren and great-grandchildren loved his impish sense of humor. When they would ask him with real concern about the inevitable infirmities of advanced age, how he was feeling, his snappy answer was, “With my hands.” When he was asked about the secret of his longevity, his answer was simply, “Keep on breathing.” When someone blessed him to live to the age of 180 (because the traditional goal of 120 was becoming too close), he quickly responded, “And you should be there with me!” He remained truly young at heart. At the age of 95, after visiting a sibling in an assisted living facility, he commented with sincerity, “It’s very sad seeing all of those elderly people.”