By Phyllis Wiener


How can it be five years since my David passed? I feel as though it’s forever and yet yesterday. At first I was full of rage at his untimely and tragic death. My rage has softened but I miss him with every fiber in my body. I miss his infectious smile, his wonderful singing, his delicious hugs, our talks and his zest for life. I miss the grandchildren he would have produced. My David always told me that I was the strongest woman he knew.   How can I disappoint him and retire from life?


A friend described David as a super nova, a star that shines brightly for a short period of time. David was our miracle child. We were told the chance of having a biological child was remote. We happily adopted our first son and looked forward to another adoption. My father-in-law passed suddenly and soon I found out I was pregnant. David was born 9 months after my father-in-law passed and shortly before our 10 year anniversary.   I always believed that David was born not only to bring my husband and I joy but he would possess some special gifts to share with the world.


How right I was. He was gifted with a magnificent voice, an ingratiating smile, outgoing personality and a warm and caring heart.   David’s friend’s wife told me she always knew when her husband spent time with David as he would come home refreshed and feeling at peace.


David had humility. I remember when he was interviewed for the Cantor’s position at North Shore Synagogue he told me he wasn’t sure he sang his best. At shiva one of the search committee members quoted a line from the Jerry Maguire movie,” He had us at hello” while adding he was like manna from heaven.


As a Cantor he believed his job was to create a mood for the congregation to commune with God. He exuded warmth and enthusiasm at the service. He had an inclusive style. Experiencing Friday services with him will always be a highlight in my life.


His tenure at the synagogue was cut short yet the parents of the Nursery School children dedicated a beautiful bench in his memory. After he passed, the children of the Hebrew school wrote heartfelt notes to me. Some expressed that the Cantor showed them you could be clergy and cool. Many mentioned his warm and infectious smile, while others stated they will think of the Cantor when the birds sing and others expressed that they loved when he played the guitar and sang with them as it made them feel happy.


One of the students in the Hebrew school remembered the Cantor at his Bar Mitzvah. The student explained that David taught him to play a song on the guitar and told him to practice it and when he would return from Israel he would listen to it.   Sadly that was not to be. Young Benjamin played the song at his Bar Mitzvah service in David’s memory and I knew the Cantor’s guitar belonged with Benjamin. He was thrilled to receive it.


David had varied interests whether it be snowboarding, teaching swim at Camp Ramah ,working with Bar Mitzvah students, singing opera or riding the waves on his surfboard. He enjoyed all kinds of music from Phish to Dave Mathews to jazz and Opera. He performed in the Tri Cities Opera in Binghamton.


His friends from Camp Ramah donated a lifeguard chair in his memory with a plaque that reads “He loved teaching swim. His passion, patience and kind-hearted approach helped campers to learn. His talent smile and goodness lit the world and inspired joy in all who knew him.”


There are three children named for David including Heather’s sister’s baby. I try to find solace in the fact that he died a hero, saving the life of the woman he loved in a place that he loved. They were hiking in Nahal David in Ein Gedi in Israel when a rare flash flood occurred.


I am unbelievably proud to be his Mother.   During his short life he made an indelible mark on the world and the world is surely a sadder place without his presence. I pray for the day when memories of him will bring smiles and not tears.