Regina Ruth Lazerow, 89, Gave Back to Community

Regina Ruth Lazerow, of Fair Lawn, New Jersey; mother of Dr. Michele Lazerow of Oak Bluffs, and Lonny Lazerow of San Diego, Calif., died on Oct. 10 in her daughter's home. Born in New York city on Nov. 1, 1913 to Louis and Sophie Turoff, she was a graduate of New York University, where she met her former husband, Elihu (Eli) Lazerow, who predeceased her.

Ruth was a spitfire of a woman who loved to dance and sing. She was also a fiercely passionate woman who believed in giving back to the community. Though she worked full time while raising two children, she managed to find the time to do volunteer work. She received a Sister Kenny Foundation commendation for her work with polio patients, she collected bandages for cancer patients with infant Michele in a makeshift hammock slung across the back seat of her car, and people knew that when she visited them, she would manage to get them to drop some money for various charities. As soon as young Michele could walk, Ruth had her holding a donation can in front of the 5 & 10 store to collect for some good cause, as she watched from across the street. (She was smart as well as charitable.)

Ruth taught at East Side High School in Paterson, N.J., during the time of Principal Joe Clark, who, along with the school, was the inspiration for the 1998 movie Lean On Me.  She gained the respect of her students by demonstrating that she believed in them.

Mrs. Lazerow was in charge of northern New Jersey area's Jewish immigrant settlement efforts in the early 1960‚s, arranging for new immigrants mostly from Russia to adapt to and learn the ways of this new country. Today, the town in which she lived for most of her life, Fair Lawn, has one of the highest Russian Jewish immigrant populations in the nation.

Later on, she took into her home a succession of Persian Jewish immigrants and their family members. Successfully shepherding them through adolescence and school, they are now successfully integrated into life here. With homes three times the size of Ruth's, they marvel at how they managed to live in such a tiny house, and wonder why this woman did so much for strangers.

Ruth knew that there was no such thing as a stranger. She was also not above shaming other people to do the right thing, making sure those whom she helped gave back to the community as well. She touched many lives.