A Letter to my Grandfather

My maternal grandfather, Abraham Dobin, died on October 14, 1983. Aside from my parents and my brother, he is the person who most influenced my development. Much of who I am, I owe to him.

Abraham Dobin wrote an autobiography, dedicated to his four grandsons:


Grandpa was a leader, a man of the community. Like my father, he was also a business owner, as I am now. Both he and my father learned, and lived, something important about business: There are two things you must be as a businessman. First, you must be committed to managing your business well, so that it makes a profit. Without that, all of your plans and dreams — to earn a living, to build something of value, to benefit the community and humanity — will come to naught. Second, you must operate with integrity at all times. Without that, you may succeed in business, but you will not achieve true success or happiness as a person.

Abraham Dobin was not a very religious man, although he was very committed to and participated in the Jewish community, was bar-mitvahed at the age of 60, and later played a leading role in uniting three different Jewish congregations to build one temple. That was just one of many causes and community efforts he spearheaded or supported in his life.

He may have been the most competent human being I have ever known.

I last wrote a letter to him in the Fall of 2006, on the occasion of my 46th birthday and what would have been his 99th birthday. At that point I had lived exactly half my life without his physical presence. As of last month, it has been 30 years since he died. It’s time for another letter.


Dear Grandpa,

I wish you could be here now. There is so much I’d like to discuss with you, so much guidance I know you could give me. Whenever I think about you, I feel your spirit and your love, and it brings tears to my eyes.

I want to share with you something I discovered today. Like most of our family, I have not been very religious. There are many parts of the Jewish religion that I appreciate and value, but the prayers and the anthropomorphic conception of God are not among them. But today I found myself doing what I would call praying.

For the last two years I’ve been struggling to build a new business: http://saiffsolutions.com/home/

This business is a dream that I am committed to, that I want with all my heart to succeed. I have been through many challenges so far, and at this point I think I have all the elements in place to achieve some real success. My goal is to reach stable profitability by March, 2014. We have a long way to go in a short time. In the last six months I’ve put together a North American Sales Team, developed a brochure, generated interest at industry events, and, through the sale of my condo in San Francisco, generated enough capital to continue to build the business.

Today, as I drove through New Jersey and enjoyed the beauty of thousands of trees displaying their Fall colors, I felt a powerful call from within myself. I felt vulnerable, bare, open. And this is what I prayed:

I want this dream. I will do and be whatever I need to do and be. I am open to whatever is demanded of me. I will make this dream come true.

What I mean by “this dream” is described on these three pages:




Grandpa, thank you for everything you have given me. Thank you for always loving me, for wanting to be with me, for considering me an important part of your life. Thank you for being the best man you could be, and giving me the strength and wisdom to be the best man I can be. I will always love you and remember you.




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  • Bdsaiff@aol.com  On October 31, 2013 at 5:20 am

    Barry, How beautiful! I feel the same way you do about him –he was a wonderful father, grandfather, and human being—he was a MENSH! And, he would have been very proud of the man you have become. Maybe, while you are in NJ, you would like to stop by his grave—-you could read him your letter. I love you. Mom

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