Chayim Herskowitz contributed to this week’s column in memory of his grandfather, Pesach ben Yaakov Kapul (Mr. Paul Feldman). Sam Horowitz contributed to this week’s column in memory of his father, Moshe ben Nachman (Rabbi Dr. Mark Horowitz).
Today, as I write this week’s column, it is Yom HaZikaron, remembrance day for over 23,000 Israeli soldiers who died in Israel’s wars as well as for victims of terror. We remember them all. There isn’t a family in Israel who hasn’t been touched directly or indirectly by someone who died in battle.
Today we are also fighting a battle against an unseen enemy which is hard to track, evasive, and hard to eliminate. It is a global pandemic, a world war against a miniscule virus.
The Jewish community and in particular the frum community has been hard hit by this plague and so many of the niftarim are renowned rabbanim, roshei yeshivos, Chassidishe rebbes, and community leaders. But there are also regular people whose fame and gadlus is known only to their family, friends, and community.
Two of my sons-in-law lost family members and we knew them over the years but now we’ve been learning about their special middos.
My son-in-law, Chayim Herskowitz, lost his grandfather Mr. Paul (Pesach) Feldman a week before Pesach. Mr. Feldman was American born and raised in East New York. As was common at that time, he attended public school and Talmud Torah after school. One of the leaders and mentors of the Talmud Torah was Lieutenant Birnbaum (who wrote a book of his experience as an American soldier in World War II). He became a life-long close friend of Mr. Feldman.
Mr. Feldman was an architect by profession and he drew the architectural plans for many of the yeshivos in Boro Park. After he married his wife, Pearl, aleha hashalom, they lived for a while in East New York and then moved to Boro Park where he joined the Mir minyan. Most of that kehillah were Holocaust survivors who escaped with the Mir Yeshiva and spent the war years in Shanghai, but he and a few other Americans joined the kehillah and he was involved with the shul all his life. After his wife passed away, he turned down invitations by his children for Shabbos because he didn’t want to miss going to his shul.
In the past year, his aide took him to the minyan every day. One day while walking to shul, Mr. Feldman fell and when Hatzalah came they asked the aide where they should take him and Mr. Feldman said, “Take me to the Mir minyan.” No matter what, he was going to shul!
His grandson, Chayim, said, “He had an unassuming persona, but being unremarkable is in fact quite remarkable.” His advice was level-headed; he was always calm and relatable.
I remember him with a twinkle in his eye and a warm, welcoming smile. He will always be remembered as a kind and gentle man who was devoted to his family and to his shul. He leaves behind children, grandchildren, and great grandchildren.
Our son-in-law Sam Horowitz lost his father Rabbi Dr. Mark Horowitz on erev Pesach. We had just seen him and his wife Linda, y’bdl, on Purim at the Purim seudah.
Mark Horowitz grew up in Washington Heights in the Breuer’s community. According to his son, he was focused and serious and excelled in limudei kodesh and limudei chol. He learned for two years at Beis Medrash in Ner Yisroel of Baltimore and then returned to Breuer’s under the leadership of the Novominsker Rebbe, zt’l, and continued his secular education, eventually becoming a dentist.
Sam goes on to describe his father as “a quiet, gentle person who beat to his own drum and had a mischievous undertone.” Back in Washington Heights, Mark Horowitz drove a motorcycle, unusual for someone in the Yekeshe community, and on Purim he rode his motorcycle down the yeshiva steps, straight through the beis midrash, and out the back door. This was the talk of the yeshiva to this very day. Mark finished Shas six times and received Semicha Yorah Yorah and Yadin Yadin over the last number of years.
His kindness and gentleness extended to the way he treated his patients. His wife Linda told me that people got up to give him their seat in shul even though he would have sat anywhere, but they knew him as a special person for whom they stood up. We just learned that Mark would go to the cemetery to be the tenth for a minyan that would otherwise not have one. (How ironic that because of the coronavirus, he and so many others, couldn’t have a minyan at their kevurah). His acts of chesed were done without fanfare. Most important was his relationship with his family and his dedication to teach his sons strong Torah values of Torah, avodah, and gemilus chasadim. He will be remembered as a fun-loving regular guy, always with a smile. He leaves behind his mother, wife, brother, children, and grandchildren.
May all the niftarim who succumbed to this horrible virus be meletzei yosher for their families and for Klal Yisroel.
Giving Back During COVID-19
By Shabsie Saphirstein
“The Alliance of Bukharian American Health Committee has been hard at work providing COVID-19 relief to healthcare workers at LIJ-Forest Hills Hospital as part of their recent initiative entitled Food for Our Heroes,” explained committee member Jonathan Koptyev, a second-year medical student at Rutgers/Robert Wood Johnson Medical Center. “On Friday, April 17, 2020, we delivered 160 kosher pizza pies from Benjy’s Pizza in Kew Gardens Hills to feed the nearly 800 daytime healthcare workers. Then, on the following Thursday we distributed 320 falafel pitas from Tov-Li Shawarma on 108th Street in Forest Hills to the evening staff.”
This initiative was one of three that was implemented by the ABAHC COVID-19 Relief subcommittee. COVID-19: Hear it from our Healthcare Workers is a video series highlighting the unique professional experiences of Bukharian healthcare workers on the frontlines. Speakers share their perspectives on disease prevention techniques. Visit sites.google.com/view/abahc/covid-19 to experience this program.
Naomi’s Get-Well Cards are handwritten notecards from community members meant to provide emotional support for hospitalized COVID-19 patients who are unable to see family due to visitation regulations. All children love coloring, so the committee instituted this project as a wonderful way for the youngsters stuck at home to put their drawings to good use. After you accrue 10 cards, email Health.ABA@gmail.com for a safe and contactless pickup. Tax-deductible donations for Food for Our Heroes are currently being collected through a GoFundMe link, gofundme.com/f/v8br2q-food-for-our-heroes. For more information about their initiatives, you may visit their COVID-19 Relief webpage above or follow their Instagram account and Facebook group, ABA_HealthofNY and ABA Health Committee, respectively.
On a larger scale, the ABAHC has partnered with the All Bukharian Community Network (ABCN), a collaborative group of Bukharian organizations and individuals established to promote mutual support of individual community initiatives. This conglomerate is a strong testament to the unity and resilience of the Bukharian community during these difficult times.
On April 4 many nonprofit organizations and individual community leaders that serve the Bukharian Jewish community came together to form a partnership in their efforts to provide relief to the community in response to the COVID-19 pandemic and unify all the information of these initiatives through one central hub.
Their flagship initiative, Shield Our Heroes, run by not-for-profit organization Congregation Emet Ve Emuna, is a campaign to gather donations of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and funding to purchase PPE equipment for distribution to healthcare workers in the community who are inadequately prepared. Partners include Rabbi Eliyahu Ben-Chaim, Chazaq, Bukharian Jewish Link, Bukharian Jewish Union, Cooking Kosher with Bella, Pozitive, BTP, Shiur.com, Rabbi Emmanuel Shimunov, Rabbi Benyamin Tamaiev, Boris Abayev, and Victoria Khanimova of Artistic Mind NYC.
Their collaborative efforts are underway providing kosher meals for hospital healthcare workers, aid in unforeseen burial costs, and Jewish educational lectures via live online video sessions to help alleviate the sudden changes in community members’ lives due to the pandemic.
“During a time when everyone is isolated at home, we must unite in whatever ways we can to tackle the issues that have arisen in our community due to the virus’ spread,” said the ABA Health Committee’s cofounder, COVID-19 Relief Subcommittee Chair, and liaison of the ABA to the ABCN, Boris Semkhayev.
From donating funds for PPE to making get-well cards for hospitalized COVID-19 patients, all initiatives are outlined at sites.google.com/view/abcn. Donations specifically for PPE can be placed at charidy.com/shieldourheroes.
Shiur Ha’chodesh For Women By Women, Wednesday, May 6, 7:30 p.m. on Zoom. Presented by Rabbi Israel D. Rosenberg Educational Institute of Congregation Etz Chaim. Dr. Susan Weissman Chair of Judaic Studies, Lander College for Women, will speak on Matan Torah: Unity in Diversity. Suggested Donation: $6. For further information and Zoom link, please contact Hadassah Waxman, email@example.com, 718-261-0766.
Chanita Teitz is a real-estate broker at Astor Brokerage in Kew Gardens Hills, serving the entire Queens vicinity. For all your real-estate needs, call her at 718-263-4500 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.