Category Archives: Obituary

Arnold Palmer and Jose Fernandez

Sunday came in like a beautiful day and rode out like a storm.

Two sports lives lost: one a golfing legend and one a promising up-and-comer.

Arnold Palmer passed away at age 87, and was one of the sports’ greatest ambassadors, winner of 7 Majors and 62 PGA Tour events, a fierce competitor to the greatest golfer Jack Nicklaus, and a man whose name will forever live on in a great drink.

Tiger Woods and Fox Sports anchor Jay Onrait weighed in on the passing:

On the other end of the spectrum was Jose Fernandez. 24 year-old Cuban phenom, having a year that most pitchers would dream of, with 253 Strikeouts and an ERA under 3.

But it was more than that that make people moved by his passing. It was the pure joy that he brought onto the field with every game played.

This is one of my favorite clips, and memories, of Fernandez that will help build how people remember him:

Another great shot, showing him enjoying the game he loved:

Sports Illustrated will likely give the cover to Palmer…but Fernandez deserves one of his own.

Remembering Rebecca Wasserstrum and Killing The Stigma

There are almost no words to describe it, so I’m gonna borrow some from conversations I’ve had with others in the hours since we found out that Rebecca was no longer with us:

But for some reason – and granted I haven’t spoken to her since graduation – this hits pretty hard

She was so full of life and brilliant. I am in such shock

Hard to forget the curls

That all sounds right to me.

She was the most brilliant light in a room, from the minute she walked in. We all remember the days sitting in the cafeteria at Brooklyn College, and she’s as much a part of that picture as any of us.
Outgoing. Bubbly. Full of life and giving it to those around her.

And it hits all of us slightly differently, but the reason I think it: She is a lot of us.
Energetic, outgoing, and holding a lot inside.

There will be plenty of conversations on this in the upcoming days, but it needs to be said: The stigma is what keeps any of us from saying anything.

We want to go out every day like everything is peachy, and not face the reality. It’s just so much easier like that.

But so many of us suffer. So many of us just can’t admit (whether to ourselves or to those around us) that depression, loneliness, whatever you want to call it, is eating away at us.
Making us miserable on the inside, regardless how we appear on the outside.

And I don’t know what the real solution is, but I’m gonna try my hardest to figure it out.

Rest in Peace Rebecca. Your bright light will continue to shine and help the rest of us through tough times.

Photo taken from her Facebook page, via Corrine Malachi (@corrine.malachi)

Photo was taken from her Facebook page, via Corrine Malachi (@corrine.malachi)

Death of a Classmate

I want to a decent sized elementary school in Brooklyn, with ~30 kids in my class and ~90 in the grade.

Spending 10 years there I got to know most of the people in my grade pretty well, at least by name and face…after all you are just kids and not thinking much about others outside your class.

But then I went to a small high school, and none of my 90 elementary classmates went there as well.

Heading into a CUNY for college the odds of hitting one of my schoolmates wasn’t high, as I had been to a very Orthodox Jewish elementary school, of which most of the people went on to even stronger Orthodox high schools, which pushed for further Jewish education after high school, and mostly urged against secular college.
Throughout my time at CUNY Brooklyn College, and the few years that followed, I’ve run into about 3 elementary classmates at college.

Besides for the 3 I re-met at college, I ran into another handful over the years at random times, in random locations, but I don’t have any real connection to the MYRCB class of 2003.

I’ve picked up bits and pieces of information over the years of classmates getting married and having kids, but when I opened a local paper this weekend, I was faced with a new first: The first passing of a classmate.

On Friday night, January 30th, Ari Levin had a couple of drinks before heading to bed. Unfortunately during the night, while lying on his back, he choked on some vomit, and by the time it was noticed there wasn’t anything that responding EMTs could do for him.
The full story could be read HERE, and a tribute from his family (as well as info on a Memorial Fund) can be read on page 114 of this publication.
RIP Ari Levin, 1989-2016

Ari Levin Memorial Fund

Rabbi Yehuda Friedman ZTL/”Uncle Ernie” Passes Away – BDE/R.I.P.

To some he was Rabbi Yehuda Friedman, to others he was Dad, yet to me and my family he was always “Uncle Ernie”, as my Grandmothers Sisters Husband.

Uncle Ernie

Uncle Ernie was a great man. Always there when someone needed him and lead a great life, constantly learning and striving for more.

My fathers dad passed away when he was 2, and Uncle Ernie stepped in and became his father figure, and for that I will always be grateful.

Every seven years Jews around the world gather for the completion of Gemara (Talmud), at an event known as the “Siyum HaShas”, for those that learned a page of Gemara a day (hence the seven year cycle).
Uncle Ernie participated in seven of them, teaching it for many, many years.
At the most recent Siyum they showed a video on the big screen at Met Life stadium, and streamed around the world, and they featured him as a Torah Leader.
11056550_10152908242402024_2572512143391843727_nUncle Ernie also spent many years helping out in shuls around Washington D.C.

As I sat there yesterday watching a LiveStream of the funeral (below) I couldn’t help but feel such a loss for the world.

Those that knew him will surely miss him. And those that hadn’t had an opportunity to meet him, believe me when I tell you you couldn’t meet a nicer person.

He now rests side-by-side with his wife, Aunt Chana, whose lovelingness (and cookies) are missed every day.

Uncle Ernie PlotAunt Chana

Hamakom yenachem etchem b’toch she’ar aveilei tzion v’yerushalayim — “May G-d comfort you, together with all mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.”

R.I.P. Faigy Mayer

It’s been the cover story of the NY Post for the last two mornings and I figured I’d bring it up.

Faigy Mayer ventured through Brooklyn College at the same time as me, on her Graduate path while I went for Undergrad, and she went on to write apps and was working on a project in recent months.

This wasn’t an accident, but rather a means to an end after years of being troubled and tormented by her past and the way the present was playing out. She knew exactly what she was doing.

Her family is sitting shiva for her, but they wouldn’t comment on her, simply saying:

‘I don’t want to say anything. What am I supposed to say: That she’s a wonderful person? No, we don’t want to comment.’

But what exactly are they supposed to say? I’m not telling them to be okay with her decision. When they put the energy and effort into raising a child, they want them to grow up a certain way. Nothing wrong with them showing disappointment.

It’s almost a year since depression and the likes was thrust more into the spotlight with the death of Robin Williams and it is just as relevant to talk about every day.

The reality is, you can tell people to talk out their issues as much as you’d like, but it is up to each individual to figure out their life and what works best for them. It’s a real shame that she choose this path, and I hope more people don’t go down the same road.

How To Die On Vacation

One of my neighbors is sitting Shiva, and I thought I’d share a little bit of their story with you, without giving out names.

My neighbors are an older Russian couple, who over recent years have gotten closer to Judaism, and have been going regularly to shul.

They had always been going on cruises, and in recent years he had said he wanted to go to Hawaii on a cruise.

After a while his wife relented and off they went for a cruise through the islands of Hawaii.

A few days into the cruise, he complained about his high-blood pressure, which had always been an issue, and saw the Cruise Dr. in the morning, who told him it wasn’t much to worry about, but he should take it easy for the day.

In the afternoon she decided to go for a swim, and he went to take a nap poolside.

As she walked back to him to wake him, before a planned revisit to the Dr. in the afternoon, she knew from looking at him that he wouldn’t wake up.

He died peacefully, in his sleep, on a cruise ship in Hawaii.

It took them about half a week to get the legalities sorted out, so that they wouldn’t conduct an autopsy and so that she could fly back with the body.


Death of a Legend – Robin Williams

Robin Williams died at Noon PST today, of “asphyxiation”, after a long fight with depression.

One of the greatest comedians of this era, and possibly of all-time, Williams will always be remembered for his great roles and snappy remarks.

Let’s take a quick look at some of his more memorable moments:

  • Golden Globe for Good Morning, Vietnam — The Fisher King — Mrs. Doubtfire — Patch Adams
  • Golden Globe nominee and Academy Award for Good Will Hunting
  • Other great roles in movies such as Dead Poets Society — Flubber — Bicentennial Man
  • Of course, my favorite: Genie in Aladdin
  • We can’t forget his TV roles and Golden Globes in Mork & Mindy
  • And his all too numerous appearances on Saturday Night Live

Personally, I always loved listening to his comedy albums, most recently Weapons of Self Destruction.

He was 63 years old.

You ain’t never had a friend like me.