1. Rabbi Avi Levine: Eulogy For My Friend, Rabbi David Forman
TODAY I DO NOT SPEAK ONLY FOR MYSELF.I SPEAK FOR A HANDFUL OF SPECIAL PEOPLE WHO KNEW DAVID FORMAN THE WAY I DID, UNVARNISHED;CHALLENGING;UNINTIMIDATED,BRAZEN,INFORMAL, FRANK AND REFRESHING. MY WORDS ARE YOURS. YOU ALL KNOW WHO YOU ARE..
IN SOME STRANGE WAY DAVID SECRETLY KNEW THAT HE COULD DIE PREMATURLY.AND HE KNEW THAT PHRASES SUCH AS ‘ITS NOT FAIR’’,
‘THERE IS NO JUSTICE’, AND ‘IT IS SUCH A TRAGEDY’ WOULD BE BANTERED ABOUT; AND THAT GRIEF WOULD ENGULF ALL OF US HERE WHO LOVED AND REVERED HIM.
WELL ,TODAY I WOULD LIKE TO CONVEY ONE SIMPLE PHRASE TO YOU;
‘DON’T CRY FOR DAVID’
CRY FOR THOSE WHO NEVER KNEW HIM AND WERE NEVER TOUCHED BY HIS MAGIC.
‘DON’T CRY FOR DAVID’’. CRY FOR ALL OF US WHO WERE TOUCHED AND WILL MISS HIM DEARLY.
BUT, DON’T CRY FOR DAVID.
CRY FOR THOSE HE FOUGHT FOR AS FOUNDER OF ‘ RABBIS FOR HUMAN RIGHTS.’
CRY FOR THOSE HE CONNECTED WITH. THE THOUSANDS OF NFTY KIDS WHO TRAVELLED TO ISRAEL UNDER HIS DIRECTION.
CRY FOR THOSE HE PROTECED ,FOR THOSE HE BLESSED.
BUT DON’T CRY FOR HIM.‘
DAVID TAUGHT US HOW TO KEEP PEACE AND HOW TO WELCOME THE
STRANGER AND HOW TO GET ENEMIES TO AGREE AND HOW TO MAKE A PERSON FEEL LIKE A MILLION DOLLARS AND HOW TO FEEL FROM THE SOUL AND REACT FROM THE GUT.‘
DON’T CRY FOR DAVID.
’CRY FOR THE JEWISH PEOPLE ; WE HAVE LOST HIS CONSCIENCE , HIS FERVOR, HIS IDEALS.
CRY FOR THE ARAB COMMUNITY ;IT HAS LOST ONE OF ITS STURDIEST BRIDGES OVER THE RIVER OF MISUNDERSTANDING.
CRY FOR THOSE WHO KNEW HIM BEST ; HIS BEAUTIFUL ,FUNNY ,DEVOTED AND LOVING JUDY,HIS B ELOVED DAUGHTERS ,TAMAR ,LIAT ,SHIRA ,AND ORLY ,HIS SONS-IN-LAW MICHAEL ,EIRAN AND GABE AND HIS GRANDCHILDREN: YAMI, YARDEN, ZOHAR, SIVAN, TAL, SHANI AND NITAI,
HIS OLDER BROTHERS ,BILL AND JIM AND HIS SPECIAL AND DEAR INLAWS RABBI JOSHUA AND MAXINE HABERMAN, FOR THEIR LOSS IS THE GREATEST OF ALL .
FOR THEY WHO REALLY KNEW HIM…ALL PARTS OF HIM,
THE STRENGTHS AND THE WEAKNESSES, THE UNIQUE AND THE COMMON, THE SACRED AND THE PROFANE;
THEY, WHOM HE ALLOWED TO SEE ALL, HAVE LOST THE TOTALITY.
NOT JUST THE INTEGRITY NOT JUST THE IRREVERANCE,NOR JUST THE FERVOR. NOT JUST THE WISDOM, NOT JUST THE ELOQUENCE,NOT JUST THE RAMROD STRAIGHT REASONING.WHEN DAVID STOOD FOR A CAUSE
STEEL CREPT INTO HIS VOICE. WE HAVE LOST A WHOLE MAN WITH FRAILTIES WHO TOUCHED US SO DEEPLY.
DON’T CRY FOR DAVID .
CRY FOR ALL THE REST OF US; WE ARE THE LOSERS.
HE LIVED HIS LIFE TO THE FULLEST .WHEN DAVID WAS ORDAINED IN 1972 HE CHOSE ISRAEL TO BE HIS HOME ,HE CARVED OUT A CAREER IN A .LAND OF POLITICAL CROSSWINDS. DAVID ALWAYS REMEMBERED TWO SPECIAL DAYS IN HIS LIFE; THE DAY HE MET JUDY AND THE DAY HE DISCOVERED ISRAEL-HE FELL IN LOVE TWICE !
HE DID NOT REGRET .HE DID NOT HOLD BACK .HE TOOK ON EVERY ADVERSITY. HE WAS NOT AFRAID TO FIGHT.
ONCE I ASKED HIM ,’DAVID,HOW DO YOU COME UP WITH NEW IDEAS FOR YOUR JERUSALEM POST ARTICLES EVERY WEEK’?HE LOOKED AT ME AND SAID SIMPLY,’ARNIE ,THERE IS SOMETHING THAT PISSES ME OFF EVERY DAY!’
DAVID FORMAN WAS NOT AFRAID OF VERY MUCH…EXCEPT MAYBE THE FUTURE AND HE DOES NOT HAVE TO WORRY ABOUT THAT ANYMORE.
DON’T CRY FOR DAVID.
HE DID NOT LIVE 65 YEARS ;HE LIVED 165.
HE FOUGHT WITH LIONS AND LAID DOWN WITH LAMBS.
HE BRIDGED THE GAP BETWEEN LIBERAL THINKERS AND CONSERVATIVE POLITICIANS.
HE MADE DON QUIXOTE LOOK LIKE A REALIST.
DAVID WAS ALSO AN EVERYMAN.
THE ISRAELI CONTRACTORS WHO EXPANDED AND REMODELED THE FORMAN HOME AT LEAST 4 TIMES –WILL CERTAINLY MISS HIM! HE BROUGHT AN APPRECIATION FOR BOSTON CELTICS BASKETBALL AND BOSTON RED SOX BASEBALL TO ISRAEL.
THE TIMMY AND LISA STORIES HE TOLD OUR KIDS WHEN THEY WERE YOUNG ARE EMBEDDED IN THEIR MINDS. DAVID HAD SUCH A FERTILE IMAGINATION.
WHENEVER WE WENT TO A RESTAURANT, DAVID WOULD ORDER MANA
KEFULA- A DOUBLE ORDER.HE WAS SO THRILLED WHEN THE DOCTOR TOLD HIM ‘EAT MORE YOU MUST GAIN WEIGHT!
DAVID TOOK PRIDE IN DEVELOPING GRIPPING LECTURES TO STIMULATE CONGRECTIONS ALL OVER AMERICA AND BEING CALLED BACK BY
COLLEAGUES TIME AND AGAIN TO INFORM PEOPLE AND GIVE THEM FOOD FOR JEWISH THOUGHT.DAVID WAS A WORDSMITH, HE HAD A GOLDEN TONGUE AND A FACILE MIND.
HIS BOOKS CHALLENGED ,INFORMED AND ENTERTAINED US. MY FAVORITE TITLE WAS ‘OVER MY DEAD BODY; SOME GRAVE QUESTIONS FOR GOD.’
HE WAS MY STRENGTH ,MY DIRECTION, MY ADVISOR,MY MENTOR MY MODEL AND ONE OF THE BEST FRIENDS ANYONE COULD EVER HAVE AND
I WILL MISS HIM SO.
I WILL THINK OF DAVID AS MY LOVABLE IRREVERANT RABBI WHO HAD A LARGE COLOR PICTURE OF A DOUBLE BACON CHEESEBURGER OVER HIS DESK IN HIS NFTY OFFICE.
WHAT A GUY! WE WILL ALL ‘ LOVE HIM TO PIECES’ DON’T CRY FOR DAVID- CRY FOR US, DAMN IT, CRY BECAUSE ALL OF US HAVE LOST AVERY SPECIAL PERSON WHO TOUCHED OUR LIVES LIKE NO ONE ELSE COULD!
LOVE YOUR FRIEND ,ARNIE.
P.S. JUDY,DAVID WOULD BE VERY PROUD, I ACTUALLY TYPED THIS BY MY ENTIRE SELF!
2. Rabbi Hank Skirball: Rabbi David Joel Forman z”l
“So David slept with his fathers, and he was buried by the City of David.” (I Kings 2:10)
Memories of David
Mann tracht und Gott lacht – Man proposes, God disposes.
It wasn’t supposed to be like this; we had made a deal! He was supposed to be standing here while I was lying there. He agreed to “lighten things up.” How can I lighten things up amidst such a pervasive darkness?
We joked together about whooping it up during the nights of eternity until our beloved friend, Shula Marchan, would shout over to us, “Sheket or I keel you!” and we would respond, “You can’t keel us; we’re already dead,” and then the three of us would laugh.
In a few days, David would have celebrated his 66th birthday. Thus he departed, a man in his 60s. David, however, was a child of the ’60s. Long after that tumultuous and revolutionary decade had faded into the obscurity of the distant past, David retained not only some of the outer trappings like the beard and the casual dress; the troubadour guitar and the shubee doo Adon Olam, but the vital core as well. He never shed the social conscience, the indignation at the weltschmerz suffered by the downtrodden deprived – be they black American Christians, brown Arab Muslims or Caucasian Soviet Jews.
He was a complex person: He could be an enfant terrible purveyor of scatological humor and also one who could openly weep. At times a cynic but also a dreamer who could pragmatically transfer the ideal into the concrete. A fierce, uncompromising adversary of evil and a docile, sweet, supportive fan of his family and friends.
He exuded an air of confidence and I recall his oft closing of an argument with “zeh hu, gamarnu.”
A few of my manifold memories of David:
I marveled at his courageous tenacity. When Tamar was about twelve, she was at the Jerusalem Central Bus Station, wearing a T-shirt with a motto considered by some of the pushtakim passers-by as being too left wing. They began to harass her and a policeman came to see what was causing the ruckus. He ordered Tamar to retire to the womens’ room and change her shirt.
When he heard about it, David sunk his teeth into the police and did not let go until Tamar had an abject apology from the policeman and had a guarantee from the education officer of the force that there would be a unit on civil liberties in the training of new policeman as well as the refresher education of the veterans.
David was a lean fresser – which made us oral compulsives jealous. He could eat twice as much as we did and not gain an ounce. For several summers, one knew where to find David’s Citroen Deux Chevaux on Friday afternoons – “looking over” the NFTY groups at Mrs. Ginsburg’s B and B on Ibn Ezra Street. He discovered that she made the “best gribbeneh in Jerusalem.” and she loved to feed him as much as he could eat.
Also, David wasn’t entirely objective about his schedule of looking in on the American EIE students at their Israeli homes. He quickly learned who, among the Israeli “mothers” were the Kosher Cordon Bluers. They loved to spoil him and shtup him with their cooking. Perhaps it was his walking, running and biking which burnt off the megacalories.
He was a dedicated foe of “ladies’ food which was served up at HUC functions. He wanted large portions and unlimited refills. How sad he was not given a larger portion to fulfill his zest for life. There is no doubt, however, that the aichut chayim of David more than compensated for its camut.
David was a raconteur and often told the story of his first visit to a congregation in Alabama when a phone call was put through to him at his motel. “Ribbaih?”
“Yes, this is Rabbi Forman”
“Send us three Ribbaih [Rib Eye] Steaks ….”
He was also aware that his views and the way he expressed them were sometimes considered “mugzam” by his loved ones. He often quoted his beloved father-in-law, Rabbi Joshua Haberman as concluding a “discussion” with the words: “OK David, you are entitled to your wrong opinion.”
I am confident that David’s beloved family will gain comfort from their myriad beautiful memories and also consolation from the knowledge of how they brightened his life.
David was like a kid brother and I missed him when he was overseas. I know he will not return from this trip, but I am comforted in the hope that I will eventually join him.
L’hit achi hakatan.
3. Marty Eisenstein
A Thread is woven
With the passing of Rabbi David Forman a thread was woven.
A thread was woven in Jerusalem. This thread passes in and out of our lives, our memories, our emotions. It passes through Jewish history, through the mountains of Jerusalem and especially in the air of this holy city. It passes through the geographic map of the world wherever David passed through during his life throughout the years of our childhood and adulthood.
On Tuesday night, May 4, I called my friend Gingy on Kibbutz Gezer. As soon as he answered the phone he said, “I had a feeling I’d be hearing from you when I heard about David’s death”. I told him I was coming from Greece on a 2:00 am Thursday flight from Athens arriving at Ben Gurion at 4:15 am for the funeral at 10:00 am. Without hesitation he offered to pick me up at the airport. He offered accommodation. He told me that he too knew David from some NFTY summer groups on Gezer over the years and that we would drive to the funeral together.
The thread begins to appear while I’m still on the phone from Athens.
The 20 minute drive up to Kibbutz Ma’aleh Hachamisha was beautiful. Passing by the Latrun Monastery intersection a stream of memories is unleashed within me. Driving up through the Arab Christian mountain village of Abu Gosh was both scenic and exotic. Arriving at the cemetery on top of the mountain, I encountered the grieving community surrounded by the morning heat while cool wafts of Jerusalem mountain air made their presence known.
The thread winds its way through an Arab village to a peaceful Jewish cemetery situated in a pine forest and weaves itself around the nearly 300 people in attendance:
Israelis, Americans. Jewish men wearing kippot, wearing hats, not wearing hats. Some in jackets and ties, some no jackets, others in T-shirts and sandals. Jewish women with their hair covered, others with their hair uncovered. Barefoot dreadlocked Jewish teenagers with their locks covered in colored knit caps.
Rabbi Henry Skirball, David’s long time friend and colleague led the service and four family members addressed the community in Hebrew and in English: David’s daughter Shira, his brother Jim from Massachusetts, son-in-law Rabbi Michael Schwartz, husband of Tamar, and Judy’s father Rabbi Joshua Haberman whom David also called Abba.
A guitarist played and sang.
The thread takes on innumerable dimensions, hews, tastes, shapes, sounds, flavors through the words, emotions, prayers, tears, laughter, sorrow, comfort, and memories the of those gathered. The feeling of the thread becomes familiar to me. It is the feeling of love. The thread is love, pure and simple.
When the service came to an end and the pall bearers readied to move David’s casket to the burial plot some 50 meters away, it was requested that all Rabbis present line up on one side so that “David may pass amongst them on this, his final journey”. Some twenty to thirty Rabbis made their way from in and amongst the crowd and took their places in a line as requested.
The thread instantly became crystalline. It became difficult to breathe for a moment. It entwined us all with its magnificent light and color hundreds of times more intense than just moments before.
David, as your soul continues its journey in the spirit world in peace, please know that, despite the deep sorrow we feel, we here will all continue to relish in, and to truly immerse ourselves, together, in this beautiful thread that you left behind.
Marty Eisenstein firstname.lastname@example.org
4. Rabbi Mark Mahler
Dreams Fulfilled, Delayed and Denied
Across many decades, I’ve had a repetitive dream. The details vary, but the theme is consistent. I am in Israel, and I am filled with joy for simply being in Israel.
This repetitive dream echoes my love for Israel beyond all other places. Yes, I love being a Pittsburgher and an American. I love Temple Emanuel and my home on Carleton Drive, but my love for Israel is of a different kind. An analogy: I love Alice, our children, my dearest family and closest friends, but my love for God is altogether different. My love for God is sui generis; so too my love for Israel.
At the beginning of May, I had such a dream for the first time in a long time. My dream was simple. I was in Jerusalem. I looked at the people around me. I noted that everyone is Jewish. I was overwhelmed with emotion. I placed my face in my hands and wept.
When I pondered the dream’s meaning the next morning, I was both pleased and puzzled. Almost four years have now passed since my last visit to Israel; too long. As I told Alice that morning, the dream was a prod to get us thinking about our next trip to Israel. But why the tears? My question was answered a few days later when I learned of the death of my friend and colleague Rabbi David Forman.
Many of you may remember David. He was a featured speaker at regional and national biennials of the Union of American Hebrew Congregations, where he would offer articulate and moving first hand accounts of the challenges of living in Israel. He was one of our Rabbi Sajowitz Endowment Scholars in 2003. His topic was “Living with Terror: Morality versus Security.” Some of you surely have vivid memories of David. During our last Temple Emanuel Mission to Israel, David spent a morning taking us to various spots in and around Jerusalem where the Security Fence serves its inarguable purpose of keeping Israelis safe from terrorists, as well as its questionable purpose of cleaving Palestinian communities and families in half. David then took us to a series of bus stops where terrorist attacks had occurred, one stop after the next, dozens killed here and dozens killed there until we entered the neighborhood where David and his family live. We then stopped for lunch at a small shopping area with a supermarket where a lethal terrorist attack occurred moments after David’s wife Judy had finished shopping. All the above are examples of how David always sought moral clarity in life’s ambiguities, understanding amid life’s tragedies.
David was the Dean of Students at Hebrew Union College – Jewish Institute of Religion when I arrived in Jerusalem in June 1973 to begin my first year of rabbinic school. If you’ve heard some of my stories about that year in Jerusalem, stories ranging from Kabbalah to the poet Yehudah Amichai, when I referenced an unnamed rabbi, that rabbi was likely David. David had been ordained in Cincinnati the year before, packed his bags, and with his new wife crossed the Atlantic and Mediterranean via ship to reenact the voyages made by so many early pioneers to Israel in making Aliyah. His American upbringing in Boston and his recent ordination made David the perfect intermediary between the first-year American rabbinic students and the largely Israeli seminary staff. David was our teacher, and David was also our friend. All of us had American friends, and some of us had Israeli friends, but David was somewhere in the middle, a bridge for us between the two cultures. He was also very funny, especially in a bilingual way that sharpened the mind along with both languages. Finally, you may take it for granted that playing the guitar is de rigueur for rabbis, e.g. Rabbi Locketz and myself, but in 1973 David was at the cutting edge of this now commonplace combination. He even composed liturgical songs; his twangy, Country-style V’shamru still rings in my ears.
As that year from June 1973 to June 1974 in Jerusalem passed, I knew that I was living the most important, formative year of my life. Thirty-six- plus years later, it remains so. And David Forman was the most important teacher of that most formative year of my life, because as much as David taught me in the classroom, he taught me much more beyond it. David cared about me. He cared about Alice. He brought us into his life, into his home and into his heart. When Judy gave birth to their first child, Tamar, he wanted us to come see them in the hospital. But David also cared about everyone in our class. He helped all of us navigate the unnerving straits of being in Israel during the Yom Kippur War, as well as the disorienting distance between us in Israel and the Nixon impeachment nightmare, the oil embargo and the gasoline shortages with the endless filling station lines back in the U.S. Steeped in Baby Boomer can-do idealism, fervent Zionism, hard-boiled Israeli realism and old-fashioned Jewish cynicism, David confronted life’s complexities and contradictions. He reconciled them with intelligence, compassion, courage, decency, wit and grace. When he could not reconcile them, he wrestled with them tirelessly.
In the years since 1974, whenever I visited Israel, I would always try to spend time with David. I watched with admiration as his life grew in every way. For many years, he coordinated the National Federation of Temple Youth teen tours to Israel. How many thousands of American teenagers spent their summers with David touring Israel? How many American teenagers had their most formative life experience under his guidance? My guess would be somewhere between five- and ten-thousand! David then became the Union’s official leader in Israel. Like every age-eligible Israeli citizen, David served in the Israel Defense Forces, rising to commanding officer. He was a vociferous opponent of Israel’s military incursion into Lebanon in 1982, but he served faithfully when called to active duty. He was wounded in action, adding fuel to his rancor over the incursion. Perhaps David’s most noteworthy career accomplishment was the founding of Rabbis for Human Rights in 1988. RHR quickly became an influential advocate for religious pluralism, social and economic justice, and Palestinian rights in Israel. An example of David’s pragmatic idealism is the pledge he exacted from me for him to take our Temple Emanuel Mission on that memorable morning tour in and around Jersualem: a generous gift to RHR payable over three years. David was part of the official Israeli entourage to Stockholm when Yitzhak Rabin received the Nobel Peace Prize in 1994. David wrote opinion pieces regularly for The Jerusalem Post and The Jerusalem Report. He authored four books focused on contemporary Jewish issues and relations between Israel and American Jewry. His last book is Over My Dead Body – Some Grave Questions for God. After our morning together in Jerusalem in 2005, David made a special trip to pick up a copy of his book for me and deliver it back to my hotel. This was one of many moments that I asked myself, “Why does this wonderful man like me so much? What did I ever do to deserve all his affection, his respect and his attention?”
When I learned of David’s death, I had to call my closest colleagues, Rich and Steve, to share our grief. Ever wise, Steve said something so insightful, “You know, we thought that David had a special relationship with us because of the nature of our year together in Israel, but the truth is that David had the same kind of relationship with everyone.” Indeed. Why did David like me so much? Why did he lavish his affection, his respect and his attention upon me? That’s who David was. Here again, he was one of the great teachers in my life. In our conversations, both Steve and Rich acknowledged the tears they cried or the tears they knew would soon come. I had cried mine in my dream.
I wept for my loss. My friend, my teacher and your teacher too. I wept for the dreams that David worked to realize, some of them gloriously fulfilled, yet most of them delayed until God’s promise of peace reigns over the world. I wept for other dreams that David fulfilled. By David’s standards, his greatest achievement was his marriage to Judy, their bright and beautiful daughters, their sons by marriage and most proudly, their grandchildren. And I wept most of all for these loved ones of David’s whose tears are far more profuse and real than mine in my dream. I wept for all of their dreams now denied.
When I learned of David’s death, I rifled through my e-mail correspondence. He last wrote to me in January, telling me that he had been diagnosed with sclerotic cholangitis, an incurable liver disease. David hoped that it could be controlled by medication; it could not. While awaiting a liver transplant in Dallas, David died on May 3, ten days shy of his sixty-sixth birthday. Another hero of mine, along with other dreams of mine, also died in Dallas on November 22, 1963.
Zecher Tzadik L’vracha, “May the memory of the righteous be for blessing.” This epitaph resounds for David as profoundly as it does for anyone in my life.
5. Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Rabbi David Forman z”l: Lover of Zion and Moral Compass
Rabbi Arik Ascherman
Rabbi David Forman z”l: Lover of Zion and Moral Compass
This week’s Torah portion is the double portion of “B’Har/B’khukotai, ending the book of Leviticus. As we mourn the death this week of our founder, Rabbi David Forman z”l, we know that we have closed a chapter in the lives of all who knew and loved David, and in the life of Rabbis For Human Rights. I find it so symbolic that this week’s portion is concerned with rules of social justice and fairness when we enter the Land of Israel. David was a social activist way before he made aliyah, on behalf of Soviet Jewry, African American civil rights and against the Vietnam War. However, after his family, his great passion was Israel. There are those whose particularistic concern for Jews and Israel lead them to turn a blind eye to many of Israel’s shortcomings. Others are so blinded by Israel’s shortcomings and embarrassed by Jewish particularism that they cannot appreciate any of the beauty in Israel and her people. However, David’s great love for Israel, Jews and Israelis, as well as for Torah and for justice, was what made him passionately and desperately concerned when he felt we were not living up to our highest Jewish values.
In the office we have been inundated with calls of concern and love after David’s death. At the funeral there were friends who flew in from abroad because they loved him like a brother. So many of the people I meet on my travels and so many of the rabbis who are willing to open up the doors to their synagogues and introduce their congregations to the sometimes controversial subjects RHR deals with, do so because David was their rabbi and moral compass. Literally, several generations of Jews, particularly from North America, were touched by David because he had grown up with them or studied for the rabbinate with them or worked under him as a NFTY counselor or come to know him as a high school student coming on an UAHC Israel program or entrusted their children to him when they came here.
Because David commanded such love and respect and trust, because his love for Jews, Judaism and Israel was so obvious in word and in deed, and because his humor and his passion were infectious, many people could hear from him what they were not capable of hearing from others. Also on our board, David’s moral authority could carry the day. When there was a controversial decision to make, such as authorizing civil disobedience in opposition to home demolitions, it was David who knew how to explain why this was something we had to do, and get people to go along with things they probably would not have agreed to if I or anybody else had tried to convince them.
David was also incorrigible, said what he thought, and did not want to be “pegged” or put in any ideological box. There were even a few occasions when he used his column in the Jerusalem Post to criticize RHR. However, he could disagree with you with deep passion and emotion, with a twinkle in his eye, and with great respect, all at the same time.
I remember in particular two of David’s favorite sayings. He would often quote the Midrash stating that the Torah is repetitive in saying, “Justice, justice shall you pursue”(Deuteronomy 16:20) because justice must be pursued through just means. He believed that holding Israel accountable and causing Israel to act justly must be done justly and fairly, and with an appreciation of the dangers we face. At the same time he believed that Israel could not justify injustice in the name of security and self defense. He was also wont to say that, while there are many places around the world where there is more injustice and where there are more significant human rights violations than in Israel, “The world is not an ethical shopping mall.” We cannot do “comparitive shopping,” in order to excuse or downplay wrongdoing by saying, “Look what everybody else does.” David understood the critical importance of education, and it is because of him that we have our Human Rights Yeshivas today.
There are those who today primarily identify RHR with me, or increasingly in recent years with me and the rest of our amazing staff. However, I know that what we have accomplished has been done by standing on David’s broad and supportive shoulders.
I will sorely miss David. I will miss his support and appreciation, and I will miss his criticism. Yet,ust as the Torah continues after the book of Leviticus ends, we the living must continue the many projects David started. Our part in Rabbis For Human Rights is to continue to advanceDavid’s demand that Israel honor and respect God’s Image in every human being.
Yehi Zikhro Borukh. May his memory be a blessing.
6. Rabbi Paul Feinberg
David—After having reread OVER MY DEAD BODY -Some Grave Questions for God, I can only speak directly to you. So many others have spoken out, giving personal testimony: your extraordinary devotion to family, master educator of youth, dramatist, bold leader, organizer for the rights of the denigrated and disgraced, abroad and here. You are a passionate adversary, without peer, and a bold advocate too for what is good and right in our society. I can hear you saying, “oh you are just being kind” and as if on cue I reply, Kindness, is not part of it… you are so amazing!
These past four weeks, I urgently search for word from you—each day brings increasing crises, with need for your voice, your pen, your decades’ long examples of what we ought to be doing to make things better. Of course, there are others to critically inform, maybe even to stir us But selfishly, David. I want to hear your unique voice, to be happy with you for the accomplishments, and to embrace as we have done in other experiences…….
I love hearing you say “You’ll really like this one”—referring to a forthcoming Jerusalem Report article…. as if this was a surprise. You are classic liberal, identifying hypocrisy and duplicity, discrimination wherever you saw it, regardless of party, group, or organization.
I love how you artfully dismiss any person whose ego is so mercilessly inflated or consumed by jealousaly—suggesting … go jump off a bridge(well you said it a little differently), i f t h e y c a n ‘ t t a k e a j o k e. Those who know you well…. smile knowingly!
You knew your own foibles well; that gave you room to easily see and criticize foibles, and more in others, without thought to status, role, privilege; no one dares to doubt your integrity. You take what you believe, teach, and exemplify seriously, without taking yourself seriously.
You knew when to give a hint—like now! when you felt I was going a little over the top— like a tap on the shoulder(or some other place…) to bring me back to the world, a little more focusd. Sometimes, more than a hint was needed. You’re not shy!
You bless us through our memories of you dear David– loved ones, dearest friends, colleagues, students…………………