Mayer: You had a heart of gold and so many people loved you. Shifra and I were privileged to be your partner in outreach at Manhattan Jewish Experience for 16 years, and we thought we had many more years of working together.
In Pirkei Avoth, the Ethics of the Fathers 4:17, the Rabbis speak about the Jewish concept of the afterlife:
(R. Yaakov) would say: One hour of repentance and good deeds in this world is better than all the time in the world to come. And one hour of pleasure in the world to come is better than all the time in this world.
Mayer you had many many thousands of hours of good deeds in this world, in fact a whole lifetime of good deeds. You loved people, and loved helping people and doing for others.
Mayer loved making shiduchim, was very proud in the fact that he had brought people together. Now maybe Mayer you will be able to let us know if it is true what they say when you make three shiduchim you get a special place in the world to come. The irony is that he was not married, but as his very dear and loyal friend Mark Isaacson pointed out to me he did for others even what he could not do for himself, even though he did not marry he tried to make sure others did.
Mark talked about how Mayer made sure he and his single friends always had a place to go to for Shabbos, he would make meals with Mark and David Fishoff, and others, and when they got married he was so happy for them, and shared in their simchas and their families. Mayer had many close friends, and that was an extension of his love of people.
People would come to Mayer with a need, someone who was sick, funds needed for an organization, an individual, a cause, Mayer would give. Some of it I knew about, an Isachar/Zevulun relationship with a Torah scholar in Israel, someone who needed a job, and there was so so much more that we did not know about of people and organizations Mayer helped.
Mayer’s love of outreach, kiruv, reaching out to Jews how were not as connected to Torah and Judaism as he was a natural extension of his love of fellow Jews and his giving nature. He was connected to so many organizations, NJOP, Gateways, MJE and many others.
Mayer was key in developing MJE East, he gave us the seed money for our first year in the city which allowed Shifra and I to move into the city and dedicate our loves to outreach, and for that we will be eternally grateful. Mayer played a crucial role in facilitating MJE East programs being hosted by Fifth Avenue Synagogue, a partnership which continues until today. Mayer also played an important role as a member of the MJE Board of Directors and had an enormous impact on the whole organization.
At the beginning we ran Shabbat services, dinners and desserts out of his apartment in the Solow building. His living room would be set up as a synagogue, then he would host dinner, often his mother Hilda would arrange the dinner, and then sometimes Mayer on his own, especially after he no longer wanted her to exert herself. Then sometimes as many as 80-100 people would show up for dessert. Mayer schlepped people in from everywhere and anywhere, someone he met at the gym, a young Jewish trader from his or someone else’s office, someone he met on the street. And he would take an interested in them, and when people saw he cared he would invite them back, and they would come back because the felt his caring.
Mayer was part of our family, Uncle Mayer. Last night our ten year old daughter said what stood out for her about Mayer is that he would also find the ices for her in synagogue. Even when there were none served, Mayer would ask Noa if she had her ices, and if not would find them. And the two of them would be there at the Kiddush eating ices together.
Mayer Loved to give over Torah to beginners. He was an ordained Rabbi who loved learning, however his love came out most when he was teaching others, giving over his Torah to those who did not have the knowledge. His message was always very practical, how keeping shabbos could improve the quality of your life, how studying Jewish wisdom could enrich your life. He would give the dvar torah at our MJE East beginner’s service, then at Shabbat dinners at the synagogue, and dozens at Shabbat dinners at our home as well. He would say: just try it, what do you have to lose, Shabbat is great, you can relax, meet nice people. What else do you have to do? Mayer accepted every person where they were at, never pressured and always encouraged out of love. I received an email from one of our MJE beginners who is now married with a daughter to a woman with a day school background, living in Teaneck. He talked about how Mayer always took an interest in what was going on in his life, always wanted to know how he was doing.
Mayer, the thousands of people whose lives have been touched, and hundreds whose lives have been transformed through MJE East are all to your merit, you were the angel investor who opened up your home, shared your goodness and your Torah. Mayer we all wish you had taken a bit more care of yourself, and not just take care of others.
Mayer, with all the mitzvos you did you will now have that pleasure of the world to come which is greater than all the life in this world. But even then, I know you will continue to do for others and to advocate for them from on high before the Almighty.
There are no words for such a momentous loss. He was truly a mensch. May we merit continue to carry on his good deeds and his works.