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Notes from David Rabin's Funeral

March 23, 2020

In these times of shelter-in-place and social distancing, people are discouraged from leaving their homes to attend social gatherings such as funerals. These notes are meant to compensate for that in some small measure, for those who could not attend.

The funeral took place at Beth Moses Cemetery in West Babylon, NY. The ceremony itself took place under adverse conditions: cold air, soaking rain, and a driving umbrella-destroying wind, and this was on top of the social distancing protocols necessary at this time. A small crowd braved the wintery weather to drive the 55 miles from Staten Island and pay their last respects to this admired and beloved man.

The rabbi, as usual, spoke for too long. He noted how David's military service in Viet Nam contrasted sharply with the gentle and caring David so many of us knew and loved. He compared David to King David, about whom the rabbis said (alluding to a weird quote from Psalm 22) that he could be strong and stiff when the need arose, but under other circumstances could be as soft and gentle as a worm.

Ellen Rabin spoke of how David was her soulmate, how he meant so much to her and cared for her.

Former Aviv Hadash President Mickey Berkofsky drove up from Florida to pay his respects. Mickey spoke of the terrific qualities of friendship David displayed, but also cautioned that David would never let anyone else pay for his donuts.

Former Aviv Hadash President Lloyd Lerner spoke of David as a "doer" in our congregation, and how generous he was in helping the less fortunate, such as by his efforts in support of the Hebrew Free Burial Society.

After the El Malei Rachamim prayer was chanted over the grave, Ellen recited kaddish as a signal of the beginning of her shiv'ah mourning period. Ellen will continue to observe a personal shiv'ah at her home until Sunday morning, but will not be receiving visitors due to concerns over coronavirus contagion. To visit a mourner in person, at this time, is strictly prohibited by Jewish law. Instead, friends are encouraged to observe nichum aveilim by speaking to Ellen over the phone.

May the Omnipresent One comfort her, among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.

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