Want to keep in the loop on the latest happenings at Chabad Israel Center of the Upper East Side. Subscribe to our mailing list below. We'll send you information that is fresh, relevant, and important to you and our local community.
Printed from ChabadIC.com

Farewell, My Friend Charles

Thursday, 30 January, 2020 - 3:47 pm

I’ve officiated many funerals and given numerous eulogies in my time as rabbi, but it’s different when it’s a good friend. And looking around the packed room this week at Charles’s funeral, it struck me that everyone there considered Charles a close friend; he had that unique ability to reach out and connect with each person intimately. 

An infant comes into this world with its fists clenched, signifying its intent to conquer the world, explains the Talmud. When we pass, however, our hands are open, showing that we can take none of the power, riches, or fame into the next world. Only the good deeds we performed during our lifetime accompany us, and Charles had no shortage of those.

He joined our shul as a founding member 15 years ago, and as long as he was in the city he never missed a Shabbat. In fact, he beat me to shul every week, and before we began services he would stand before the ark and have his own private moment of deep connection with G-d.

Every week he brought a bottle or two of scotch for the kiddush. He never arrived empty-handed. Even after he had been diagnosed with the disease that ultimately took his life, he kept coming to shul, scotch in hand, making sure we finished at exactly 11:30am. When we finished on time or ran a few minutes early, we were rewarded with his beaming smile. When we didn’t, he would point to his watch and give me “the look.” Since he was such a devoted member, I did my best to stick to the timeline!

Charles was the one who looked out for others and made sure everyone felt comfortable. One Friday night the conversation was going on in Hebrew, but Charles turned around and noticed that there was a congregant present who does not speak or understand Hebrew, and he immediately switched to English. I later heard from that person just how good it made him feel. This was Charles - always conscious of others, making sure no one felt excluded or uncomfortable.

And he cared deeply for our shul. Before the High Holidays, year after year, he would let me know he’d had all the talleisim cleaned and hired a professional cleaner to come in and take care of our carpets. Anyone else would hand me a check and say, “Here, rabbi, you get it done,” but Charles wasn’t like that. He rolled up his sleeves and got to work himself.

Years ago, I walked into shul on Shabbat mevarchim and told Charles I was a few minutes late because I had recited the entire book of Tehillim per Chabad custom, which takes over two hours. “Oh,” he exclaimed. “I read the entire Tehillim every Shabbat morning!”

Charles was rushed to the hospital on Simchat Torah this year, and just two nights prior, on Hoshana Raba, he asked me what he needs to recite. I explained that it’s traditional to say the entire book of Devarim as well as the whole Tehillim. I was shocked the next day when he casually informed me that it had taken him six hours, but he’d said all of it!

Charles was someone who loved life. He loved people. He loved their company. He loved living. He loved his family. He was deeply devoted to his wife Gili and their children Jade, Brittany, and Courtney, may they find comfort in due time.

My dear friend Charles, as you move on to the next world, may the kindness and warm feelings you generated here in this world, accompany you, and may all the mitzvot you did stand you in good stead. We will miss you deeply, but we take comfort in knowing that the heavenly court is welcoming you with open arms.

Comments on: Farewell, My Friend Charles
There are no comments.