Saturday, September 10, 2011

Aaron Lefkowitz - Leaving Something Behind

Aaron Lefkowitz, the father of an old friend, passed away last Tuesday. I just heard about it this morning from his daughter, Lois. Aaron owned a hardware store in Brooklyn. It was called Coleman's on 5th Avenue and 50th Street, just a few blocks east from the upper portion of Bay Ridge Channel, which is just south of Gowanus Bay. I believe it was his second store, but I'm not really sure of that. At any rate, the store is secondary to the man I knew.

At the time I knew him I was a drunk, but mostly I liked to take pills and smoke pot. My own family, for whatever reasons, had little to no respect for me, and perhaps I had none for myself at the time. But Aaron, and his wife, never judged me on my flaws. They always did their level best to make me feel accepted, whether it was in the store, where Lois' husband Mark worked, or at their table on any given holiday. Aaron was always the first to ask Lois if I had anyplace to go, as in "No Jew should be alone on the holidays." Consequently, I spent several of the High Holy Days breaking fast at their table. Sometimes I was barely awake. But again, no one there ever judged me. They simply fed me and made sure I was not alone. I have spoken, over the years, to my wife and children about the wonderful kindness shown to me by this man.

Life is filled with lessons to be learned, you just have to be open to receiving them. And though I might not always have been at "my best" when in Aaron's company, his lessons came through. About 20 years ago, for a number of reasons, I began to light Sabbath Candles on Friday evenings. And I have continued to do so until this very day. And I have never lit one without thinking of the influence this one man had upon me. His demeanor, and joy of life, will be missed.

They say that a man is judged by what he leaves behind him in this world. That's his candle burning in the picture above. The candle will last only a day, perhaps a few hours more, but the light that Aaron brought to the world will remain forever.

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