As Fathers’ Day nears, I started thinking about a very important man in my life.

Not my dad — who was, by the way, a great dad. My dad died a good number of years back.

Rather I started thinking about my father-in-law. My father-in-law is still alive and celebrated his 98th birthday a few months ago.

His name is Moshe Berkovitch. He lives on Kibbutz Nir David in Israel and is still active, alert, involved, concerned with the state of the world, and ready to offer his opinion on how to fix things if only you’ll listen.

I do listen. So does my son and daughter. This is a guy worth listening to.

Moshe may well be one of the most intelligent men I’ve ever met — and he is a man’s man.

Hard working all his life, his measure of any person — man or woman — was and is simple: Do they get up for work in the morning?

He doesn’t care how much money you have. That means nothing.

He doesn’t care how many degrees you’ve earned. This is often just silliness.

He doesn’t care if you have a title. He is not swayed by your “status.”

Moshe is more impressed by callused hands, than by cash in the bank.

He was and is impressed by work.

Work determined his life, and still determines his view of the world.

He worked first as a fine carpenter, then as a farmer, and later as a small engine repair man until he was 91-years old. When finally told to slow down he expressed concern he wasn’t carrying his weight in the community.

Today, at 98, people still come to him for advice on how to keep their mower running, or how to fix some small engine malfunction.

He comes by his manliness honestly.

Moshe was born in  Hancewicze, Poland. When he was eight years old, his father died and Moshe began working in the pine forests that supplied material for a local turpentine factory. Eight years old!

He grew up in a home with no floor. In harsh winters, the children in his family slept on the cook stove in order to stay warm ...and alive.

His mother struggled to keep the family together. Moshe, still a child, kept them fed.

Moshe was the “man of the house” before he even reached puberty.

With no time for school, he educated himself — reading and retaining. There was simply no time or money for formal education.

He worked.

Moshe worked until the Nazis conquered Poland and the extermination of the Jews began in earnest.

His younger brother Yoel slipped off to fight with underground, joining the partisans in the forests. Moshe escaped across the border and joined the Russian Army to fight the Nazis on the Eastern Front.

While the two boys were off fighting in the war effort, the Nazis took over  Hancewicze and within days murdered every Jewish man, woman, and child in the small city — including his mother, (my wife Dina’s grandmother), and every other member of the family.

(The extent of this slaughter became even more real just recently when my wife discovered a family photo she hadn’t known existed. It was the first time she had ever seen a photo of her grandmother ...ever! Almost every person in the photo had been killed by the Nazis — except Moshe and Yoel.)

My wife’s paternal grandmother was 55 years old when the Nazis shot her and dumped her in a ditch.

Only Moshe and his brother survived. Almost every other Jew in  Hancewicze had been killed.

Moshe got a job as a carpenter along the Russian railroad. He was very skilled and much in demand. He managed to build his own home, marry, and have a couple kids, all the while planning how he would escape the Soviet Union and move his family to Israel. Israel, he reasoned, was the only safe place in the world for Jews.

When he had saved and squirreled enough away, he walked away from his home outside of Moscow with family in tow. They took a “vacation” in Warsaw before slipping away to Vienna and then on to Israel.

He settled his family in a farming community, and went to work.

He worked every day of his life from that point on until he had to slow down few years back.

In the offing, his only son died in the 1973 war.

His daughters gave him and his wife Tamara a passel of grandchildren, (one named after his hero uncle.)

Despite it all, despite the Nazis, the slaughter of his family in Poland, the pain of losing a son, the separation from some of his children and grandchildren ...despite it all, Moshe remains a man who measures and weighs every person by the work they do, not by the wealth they bring to the table.

He rails against injustice. Not the injustices that have been done him, but the continuing injustice he sees in the world.

He still has optimistic hopes for the world in which he lives, and still believes in humanity — despite the fact that humanity has turned its back on him so often, and so cruelly.

Moshe is a man’s man — and worthy of a nod on Father’s Day.

The world would be better off if there were more fathers like him.