IN MEMORY OF DAVID J. FORMAN
By Joshua O. Haberman
May 6, 2010
Eyn Omer V’eyn d’varim – “There is no speech and there are no words” to express our grief as a family. Great as is our loss, so is the loss of our people. He was the first in our family to make aliyah, together with Judy, almost 40 years ago.
As a superb youth leader, he inspired thousands of young Jews to love Judaism and Israel. He spoke, wrote and acted powerfully against all forms of injustice, oppression and discrimination, whether committed by Jews or non-Jews. He demonstrated against the War in Vietnam, joined the Freedom Riders, challenged the Jim Crow laws of the South, was among the first to go to the Soviet Union to contact refuseniks, defying personal risks, and later, together with Judy, returned to teach Soviet Jewry . He was chairman of Interns for Peace in Israel, chaired the Jerusalem Council for Soviet Jewry and won international recognition as founder of Rabbis for Human Rights.
David was one of our people’s leading activists for justice, a passionate advocate and a passionate adversary.
I would not be surprised to hear that David is already organizing a protest march up in heaven against the injustice and unfairness of the prosperity of the wicked and the suffering of the righteous.
Intensity was one of his chief characteristics. He lived up to the Biblical rule– kol asher timtza yadcha la-asot, b’kochacha aseh (Koh.9.10) “whatever you do, do it with all your might.”
He was an idealist who translated principles and words into courageous action. Controversy did not bother him. On the contrary, he relished it.
Judy often tried to temper his sharp, critical remarks –usually without avail. One of his special pleasures was to read the letters to the Editor, attacking his column in the Jerusalem Post. He was a fabulous communicator with a scintillating sense of humor in speeches, articles and his 4 books.
I know idealists who love humanity but can’t maintain personal relationships; their idealism often is an escape from a problematic marriage or dysfunctional family. They attract co-workers but not friends. David was the most loyal and beloved friend. Two of his friends offered to donate part of their liver; Lee Diamond flew in from Hong Kong, Arnie Levine from the West Coast; others from Greece and all parts of the USA, to be here today.
David was happiest in the midst of his family; affectionate to all family members, he adored his Judy and pampered his children and grandchildren.
As Jonathan told David nifkad-ta ki yipaked moshavecha (I Sam.20.18) “you will be missed because your seat will be empty”; so we say now: David, you will be missed by all who want Israel to be an 0r la-goyim, “a light unto the nations;” you will be missed by all who take to heart Tzedek, tzedek tirdof, “Justice, justice shall you pursue .” You will be missed by all the audiences and readers who applauded you.
Your seat will be empty at our Shabbat table; your seat will be empty at family re-unions and birthdays celebrations for which you made brilliant THIS IS YOUR LIFE videos; you will be missed by all of us, family and friends. Your seat will be empty—but not our hearts. You will be part of us, all our lives.
Zichroncha li’vrachah - your memory will be a blessing.