He was born on the Lower East Side. His parents were Russian immigrants. He had a younger brother and two older step-brothers (from my grandfather’s previous marriage).
The language of their household was Yiddish. He became fluent in three languages: English, Yiddish, and Hebrew. When he traveled to foreign countries, he had a knack for picking up enough of those languages to make himself understood.
A graduate of City College (now part of CUNY), he also earned a degree in Hebrew Literature from the Jewish Theological Seminary. In 1936, spent six months in what was then Palestine, studying in Jerusalem, at the Hebrew University on Mt. Scopus.
He was a certified public accountant. He had his own practice. His clients were mainly small businesses. He loved his work.
For many years, he had a side business, a partnership in Reena Records, a company that produced children’s records containing stories and songs about Jewish Holidays, and adult records focusing on songs by Israeli composers and singers.
He was an intellectual. Arguments with him usually turned into Talmudic exercises. If you said black, he’d argue white, even if he really agreed with black.
Politically, he was a liberal.
As a young man, he played the violin and a vigorous game of handball on the courts on Houston St.
He listened to classical music, opera, and Hebrew cantorials.
He went to the theater, including the Yiddish theater.
He went to baseball games at Yankee Stadium and the Polo Grounds.
He watched basketball on t.v.
He played golf.
He loved to drive and made numerous trips around and across the USA.
He traveled abroad many times.
He was a passionate photographer and developed his own photos.
He loved to go food shopping. He liked eating in French bistros. He considered Chinese food a snack and disliked pasta. I don’t think he ever ate a pizza. He ate belly lox (never Nova) and only from Russ & Daughters. He ate the lox on Ritz Crackers, never on a bagel.
He always carried a cloth handkerchief.
He always kissed my mother and me good-by when he left for work in the morning.
He was a good son. He called his parents regularly. It was always his mother who answered, and he always started the conversation the same way. I can still hear him now: “Hello, Ma. Vuss hertzach episs? (Translation: What’s the news?)
I could go on and on….
Suffice it to say, he had a joie de vivre and, as you can see, packed a lot into his life.
But he missed out on computers (something I know he would have taken to like the proverbial duck to water) and so much more.
He and my mother were married for 39 years.
He died on January 15, 1981. He was 66 years old.