Even when our parents were alive, Jack was not only my oldest brother, he was MORE.
Our middle brother Mark, Rabbi Mordechai Yitschak z’l was a contemporary for me. I played and fought with him. Mark z’l preceeded me by one year to YU, and when I came there, I found he had picked a roommate whose main purpose was to make a “mentsch” out of me. Teach me to be orderly and responsible.
Yaacov Aryeh Chaim, Jacobo, Jack was also a brother, but he was MORE. He was like a second father, and many a time I did something or abstained from doing it, after trying to imagine what would be his reaction to what I was about to do. He worried about the entire family. When his sister in law, my wife Henny, was in New York City alone, mainly because of health reasons, Jack hardly ever missed a day without calling her, asking Henny to come for Shabbat to his home in Queens.
Jack was a physician. Endocrinology was his specialty, but he was MORE, because he had tremendous empathy for his patients. When in contact with one whose accent revealed European origin, Jack would immediately switch into Yiddish to make this patient more comfortable. I remember being present when he had to inject such a patient who was naturally worried about his situation, and in order to make him feel at ease, Jack told him he is giving him a little “Mayim Shelanu”, (water that had a special ritual characteristic) and the patient broke out in tranquilizing smile.
Jack was obviously fluent in Spanish and as the Latin population in New York City grew, he was able to communicate with many in “Mamme Loshon”, (in this case Spanish) and what a difference that makes for a physician patient relationship.
Jack was 10 when we came to Lima Perú in January 1936. He
had attended cheder in Poland, but that was the end of his formal Jewish education. Of course, father z’l, tried his best in Lima to home-teach his children, because there was no Jewish school at that time. And when Jack finished high school in the midst of WWII, our late mother would not contemplate sending him abroad, which in our case meant the United States. So that Jack was from a Jewish perspective basically self-taught, and yet he became MORE in Jewish studies. It was Jack who schlepped me to the Shiurim of Rabbi Herschel Schachter. It was Jack who was always ready to share a “Vort” he had read or heard about a Yom Tov or a Pasuk of the Torah.
As excellent as he was as a professional, having worked in Memorial Sloan Kettering, held a professorship in New York Medical College and very favorably remembered by many students, he also headed the Endocrine Lab of Metropolitan Hospital.
But above all, Jack was an extraordinary husband to his devoted Goldie, great son in law to Rabbi & Mrs. Samuel Weiss of Washington DC. Jack was just MORE.
There is no better father than Jack z’l. There maybe others who are as good, but none better. There were reasons for his pride in his children, Michelle & Dr Yitzchok Teitelbaum, Judy & Marty Grumet and Stanley, the youngest. They 3 children are accomplished lawyers.
Michelle & Yitzchok have made Denver their residence, and their home is a “Shem Davar” in the community. Meet any orthodox family from that city and mention the Teitelbaums and you will know why my brother was so proud.
Judy is a lawyer and Marty is a University professor whom I heard on more that one occasion share a platform with Rabbi Meir Soloveichik when dealing with medical scientific issues and dilemmas, and how Judaism should view them and propose a well argumented position.
For years Stanley took me to have breakfast with the family on Sundays, an opportunity to fulffill the “veet”, in “kabed et avicha veet imecha”. In those days I was witness to how Stanley would perform many tasks in his parents home that had become difficult for them to do. It was his added opportunity for “kibud av veem”, to honor his parents.
As proud as he was of his children, and rightfully so, Jack was at least equally proud of his very studious and accomplished grandchildren. Goldie and Jack became great grandparents recently. What additional joy and nachas that brough to their life!
On Sundays, Jack would sit at one end of the table and Goldie at the other. What does it say in “Tehilim”? This was no “moshav leitsim”, the conversation always centered on the news of the week, the items that stood out, a new insight, and everything was viewed wearing Jewish goggles. How an event or item is pertinent to our legacy and heritage. It was “sichat chachamim” because Jack and Goldie gave the right kivun, the proper direction to the conversation.
In the “Amida” we mention “Elokei Avraham”, a reminder or our late father who was a Rabbi in Poland prior to crossing the ocean to Peru where he pioneered yiddishkeit in what was a Jewish desert before his coming.
We mention “Elokei Yitschak”, a reminder of our late brother Mordechai Yitzchak whose Neshama ascended to heaven as we were reading the Akeida in the synagogue over 40 years ago. Jack was called to Halifax and was at Mark’s bedside in the last moments of his life.
We mention “Elokei Yaacov”, a reminder of Jack who navigated both worlds: the scientific and the spiritual. Love for Talmud Torah, learning wherever it came from was his motto. I think that he deemed “bitul zman” the greatest of sins.
A special mention of Pesach because it was the family holiday and Jack and Goldie made and enormous material effort to have everyone together.
It is Erev Yamim Noraim, and out of love for his dear ones, he also insured a short Aveilut and Shloshim. But that is the outward mourning. On Shabbat and Yamim Tovim, we do not show simanim of aveilut, but deep in our hearts we shall surely feel his absence, miss his presence and wisdom, sincerity and honesty, devotion and disposition to sacrifice for others.
As we shall shortly say in Musaf, he represented Malchuyot, he was the melech of the family, with a vast and rich memory. Jack represented the Zichronot of the family and we hope that he will make us hear soon the Shofarot, the sounds that will announce the coming of better messianic days.
He will surely intercede before the “Kise Hakavod” that all of us be inscribed and sealed for briut and shalom for Klal Israel.
Considering my age, I have been a Yatom for many years, yet on Tuesday night I felt finality. Now I know that I am a real Yatom.