Posted on December 1, 2011
The president was Johnson, the show was “Rowan & Martin’s Laugh-In,” and the song was “Up, Up, and Away.” In 1968, Richard and Roberta Fratello were looking for a temple to join when the late Rabbi Wolli Kaelter of
Temple Israel of Long Beach suggested they may like a temple in Orange County called Temple Beth David. Richard had just gone through a conversion to become Jewish and the rabbi felt that Temple Beth David would be the perfect fit for them. They attended services at the young temple, held then at Community Congregational Church in Los Alamitos, and felt right at home with the service and the people. “Warm, friendly, and very musical,” remembers Roberta, and their relationship with the temple has been that way ever since for 43 years.
As part of our continuing celebration of Temple Beth David’s 50th year anniversary spotlighting some of its early members, Richard and Roberta first met when Roberta, as part of her job, purchased some products from a chemical processing company that was owned by Richard’s family and where Richard worked. Richard’s father, seeing that Roberta seemed like a nice girl, gently “nudged” him to ask her out on a date and fast-forward 2 years later, the couple were married and settled in Long Beach as they do today.
The couple have three children and four grandchildren whom they are all very proud of. All their children attended Temple Beth David’s religious and hebrew schools and celebrated their Bar/Bat Mitzvahs at the temple. One son became a rabbi. Rabbi Anthony Fratello serves at Temple Shaarei Shalom in Boynton Beach, Florida. Richard and Roberta have two rabbis in the family as this son married his Hebrew Union College classmate, Rabbi Joanna Tract who is a chaplain with Hospice of Palm Beach County. Having rabbis in the family makes for some interesting conversation as they try to decide each year where to go to for High Holiday services! Their other son is a political consultant specializing in the initiative process and their daughter worked with Roberta as a bookkeeper for 26 years prior to starting her own bookkeeping business geared to small and medium sized companies, as well as servicing the senior citizen community.
From the beginning, both Richard and Roberta were very involved with temple life. Roberta served on the temple board as treasurer and vice president of operations, as well as serving as president of the sisterhood. Richard too was a board member serving as vice president of membership, and is a member of brotherhood. Roberta participated in the first B’nai Mitzvah class that was held at the temple. The couple belonged to a Havurah for many years and to this day the friends that they made during that time are still their lifelong friends.
Temple Beth David has two large bronze stars that are on the outside of the temple. One is on the front and the other is to the side. The company that Richard’s family owned specialized in metal finishing and those two bronze stars were made by his company. As Richard puts it, “We were “strongly” encouraged by the late Cantor Harry Newman and we were glad to create them for the temple.”
The Fratello’s enjoy traveling–especially on cruises. Their favorite location is Sorrento, Italy for its spectacular views overlooking the Bay of Naples. They have also been to Israel where they visited their son who was there for a year as part of his rabbinic training.
Temple Beth David has been proud to have Richard and Roberta as members for all these years and look forward to many more years together.