Murray J. Gass, 87, leader in Jewish community

Murray J. Gass
Murray J. Gass
Posted: January 16, 2014

In December 2005, Murray J. Gass of Cherry Hill received the Nostra Aetate award from the Catholic-Jewish Commission of Southern New Jersey.

Mr. Gass shared the award with Gloria Mazziotti of Audubon "for their leadership in improving interfaith understanding and cooperation in Southern New Jersey."

The 2005 announcement by the Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey commended "their years of interfaith work, including the creation of the Catholic-Jewish Institute of Understanding, a program of adult religious study for Jews and Christians in an ecumenical environment."

They were also cited for "the creation of the Catholic-Jewish Commission of Southern New Jersey, a joint enterprise of the Diocese of Camden and the Jewish Federation/Jewish Community Relations Council of Southern New Jersey."

On Monday, Jan. 13, Mr. Gass, 87, who began his insurance career in his father's firm near Independence Hall, died at Cooper University Hospital in Camden following a fall at his home.

Nostra Aetate, Latin for "In Our Time," was the title of a 1965 document issued by Pope Paul VI to help combat anti-Semitism.

Mr. Gass was chair for several years of the interfaith committee of the Jewish Community Relations Council, the 2005 statement read.

"His wife, Sybil, a past president of the JCRC, has been an active partner with Murray in his interfaith activities," it stated.

Born in Philadelphia, Mr. Gass grew up in West Philadelphia and Wynnefield, and graduated from Overbrook High School.

His studies at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania were interrupted by World War II, during which he rose to master sergeant and worked in finance at Fort Dix.

At war's end, Mr. Gass "helped create the financial apparatus of discharging thousands of men," getting them paid and sent on their way, his wife said.

He returned to marry and work for his father as a broker at Gass & Son Insurance.

"He could insure your boat, your airplane, or your belly button," his wife said.

After leaving his father's firm, he retired at 65 from the Equitable Life Insurance Co., she said.

Mr. Gass had been a Democratic committeeman in Broomall in the 1950s, when he helped found Congregation Beth El and served as its president and school committee chairman.

For that work, the Board of Rabbis of Greater Philadelphia gave him its award of commendation in 1964, his wife said.

After the family moved to Cherry Hill, his wife said, "I think the New Jersey air inspired him" to become yet more active in Jewish efforts.

Mr. Gass became chair of the South Jersey chapter of the American Jewish Congress, his wife said.

In South Jersey, he was a board member of the JCRC and chair of its interfaith committee, and earned the council's interfaith award, and, with his wife, its lifetime achievement award.

Besides his wife, Mr. Gass is survived by son David Goss, daughters Callie and Tobah, a sister, five grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren.

A visitation is set for 1:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 15, at Platt Memorial Chapels, 2001 Berlin Rd., Cherry Hill, N.J. 08003, before a 2 p.m. funeral service there, with burial in Locustwood Memorial Park, Cherry Hill.

Donations may be made to www.cooperhealth.org.

Condolences may be offered to the family through the funeral home.


wnaedele@phillynews.com

610-313-8134 @WNaedele

 

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