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Baruch Dayan HaEmet – Frederick Levine z”l

Frederick Levine, Ephraim ben Peretz Yisrael, z”l, father of Bob Levine, passed away this past Monday, December 10, 2018. His funeral was at his long-time synagogue, Fair Lawn Jewish Center Congregation B’nai Israel in New Jersey. I’m attaching his eulogy, prepared by Rabbi Keven Tzvi Friedman. Though Frederick was in his 90s at his passing, his funeral was attended by many friends – the main reason he stayed in New Jersey instead of joining his family out West.

Wishing for comfort for Bob, Rita, and all the family.

We come together today to remember and celebrate the life of Frederick Levine, Ephraim ben Peretz Yisrael, z”l, may his memory be for a blessing, and we come together today with Fred’s family, his son Bob, his daughter-in-law Rita, his grandchildren Jacob, Daniel and Kimberly, Kimberly was unable to travel to be with us today, but we have her in our thoughts, Rita’s sister Jeannie, cousin Richard, cousin Laura, and the entire family and extended family as well.

During the past several weeks in our Torah portions we have seen how Joseph was diligent and independent (he also had God in his corner too which is always a wonderful bonus), and all this helped him succeed during his life time and rise up thru the ranks to governor of Egypt, the right hand man to the king Pharoah.  Joseph even dressed in royal apparel, and I imagine he proudly wore the rings and golden chains the king had given to him to authenticate his royal status.

Frederick Levine, like Joseph, was diligent and independent and rose upwards thru the ranks of life running his own plastics company, going back to school later in life and earning his law degree at night, and always providing for his wife Joan of 49 years, of blessed memory, and his entire family.  Frederick too, like Joseph, proudly wore his royal apparel, but for Fred it came in the form of awards and emblems he wore on his lapel or sport jacket that he received serving as a decorated soldier in the United States Army during World War II.  Fred took a lot of pride being a member of the Jewish War Veterans Association and really enjoyed the camaraderie with the other veterans, and so yasher koach to those veterans who saluted and paid respect to Fred – he would really appreciate it.  Fred was so proud of serving our country in the Philippines and Japan as part of a core of engineers building air strips, amongst other duties.  His unit even received one of the highest awards for their capture of a high-ranking Japanese solider.  They captured this solider who spoke great English and studied at the University of Chicago and he ultimately gave information that led to the capture of a Japanese general.

Fred was born and raised in Patterson, New Jersey.  He was extremely intelligent and diligent about his educational pursuits. He studied chemical engineering at the University of Cincinnati and then with the G.I. Bill he studied at Colombia University and went on to receive a Masters at New York University (NYU) in Chemical Engineering.

Fred was independent indeed and worked for himself.  He found his way into running a plastic and chemical factory in Patterson, New Jersey, making everything from garden hoses, to bags, to floor runners and various plastics.  He had his own opinion, drove hard bargains but DEALT HONESTLY with people.  Fred lived out this emphasis he put on education.

Later in life, Fred went back to school and attended Seton Hall Law School in the evenings.  Fred’s son Bob shared me with me just how much his father loved learning, was quite adept at it, and craved to learn more.  Fred passed the bar exam on his first try, then passed the patent bar exam on his first try and received his PATENT LAWYER QUALIFICATION, QUITE AN ACCOMPLISHMENT – and he even tried his hand at some patents too. Most people described Fred as one of the smartest people they knew, and receiving the patent lawyer qualification is no small feat indeed.

Frederick was blessed to have beautiful companionship during his life.  He was married to his wife Joan, [insert Hebrew name] of blessed memory,[1] for 49 plus years and they were just ½ year shy of 50 years. They loved each other, stayed together thru thick and thin and Fred was quite devoted to his wife Joan.  Joan suffered from multiple illnesses and Fred was always there researching and going to specialists and sparing no expense to help her.  They both liked to travel and visited Israel and Europe amongst other places.  Fred was not only devoted to his wife and family, and a provider, he was also charitable and devoted to his country and community.  “Fortitude,” “man of principle,” “involved” and “engaged” were words that jumped out when describing Fred.

Fred was active at my synagogue, the Fair Lawn Jewish Center, Congregation B’nai Israel since 1972 for 46 years, he was active in the Men’s Progress Club, and his son Bob remembers growing up there with Rabbi Glustrom.  Fred was also active in many community organizations, including B’nai Brith, Jewish War Veterans Association, Knights of Pythias, American Legion, Alumni Groups of Columbia and NYU.

He was a social butterfly who was blessed to enjoy beautiful companionship later in his life too[2].  He also loved to make deals and buy little chatzcas or knick knack items.

Fred’s kindness, and caring for others, shined thru in his business dealings.  Fred purchased garden apartments in Patterson as part of his wanting to be independent and work for himself.  There were some tenants who lived in those apartments and Fred would give them a break and help them.  He charged low rent and even gave free rent for services.  Bob found a letter from his dad explaining how he could not sell the apartment because people needed a place to live.  He gave people a break.  Fred was a mensch.

Fred’s grandchildren, Jacob, Daniel, and Kimberly also brought him tremendous joy.  He loved them and was supportive [pause], of course, of their academic pursuits and their education!  Fred also was a SUPPORT to his son Bob encouraging him to the best he could do on his path to becoming a physician.

It was very special that the entire family came together for Thanksgiving in Las Vegas in 2017, and this past year the grandchildren flew out to New Jersey to spend time with grandpa Fred in the hospital.

Towards the end of his life, the family was blessed to spend quality time together.  Fred even strongly considered taking his son up on moving out to Colorado for them all to be together. Fred’s daughter-in-law Rita was an angel just being present with Fred at the rehab center towards the end of his life, and Fred would say “everything is fine,” and Rita sensed that he was at peace.  He would talk about planning a trip with his family.  Family was everything to him.

Bob too, was grateful to have the opportunity to really talk and spend quality time with his dad towards the end of his life.  It was the small interactions, helping with medicine, just being present and spending time together.  What a gift.  Fred always spoke about how much he loved his wife Joan, and he lived out this devotion, and expressed to his family how important it is to stay in a relationship and SUPPORT YOUR PARTNER.  Clearly Bob that lesson has been transmitted to you and your lovely life partner and wife Rita of 29 years and your dad was a fine example on that front, and I know a source of inspiration for you and your family.

Fred, just like Joseph, was a man of diligence and independence, who rose up the ranks during his military career and in life.  Having said this what comfort can we now bring to you his family?  Only that which you yourselves can find in your sweet memories of him.  It is all too easy to say Fred lived a long, good life, but to his immediate family his passing leaves a wound that only time can heal and an emptiness that times does not heal.  I pray his love of family brings inspiration to you.  May God grant Fred ever lasting rest and peace, may his soul be bound up with the Divine, and as his life was a blessing for so many so we pray that his memory will be a blessing as well and let us say amen.

[1] Joan, z”l, passed away in 2005.

[2] Girlfriend of one year is named Carolina.

About Hannah Kapnik Ashar

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