While usually quite verbose, I find myself at a loss for words. How can one describe immensely personal feelings in an extremely public setting? For every word below, there are thousands more that I am choosing not to write.
Ten years ago, there was a plane crash on Sept. 7, 1998. The 10th Jewish Yahrtzeit is today. On that plane was a man, Stanley Klein zt”l, who was larger than life. But he enjoyed life. And how.
Growing up, my parents had a saying: “You cannot have the main course if you don’t eat your dessert.” Every Shabbat lunch, Stanley would join us for Kiddush, in which he would eat my mother’s delicious chocolate cake and drink vodka. Then he would leave, and then walk home to have lunch with his wife. He would sit to the right of my father, and upon his leaving, one of us would take his seat. Week in, week out.
He would regale us with stories of lunch meetings, golf, Cuban cigars, and interesting socks. He was always there for us, listening to our achievements and beaming with pride when we would tell something that we learned in school. Every Chanuka, he would take us to Toys’R'Us (and, as we grew older, Modell’s) to let us choose his present to us. He helped found the neighborhood Vodka Drinker’s club.
As I grew older, I remember conversations that we had walking back from Shul on Shabbat together.
But I never really knew who he was, and all the good that he did, until after he passed away. He was simply Stanley.
I didn’t know of all the people who he helped and the charities he supported. I still don’t. We now like recalling how he created the defense fund for Ruben “Hurricane” Carter, but that was only one in a myriad of things that he did.
While he was flashy in his dress, he was quiet in his actions.
And I will respect that in this posting.
I had arrived in Israel the week before, and received the call from my mother early that Friday morning. It was one of the most surreal phone calls I have every answered in my life. He was laughing and planning for the future with me just a few weeks before.
But then again, Stanley taught us to begin the meal with the dessert.
Ten years is a long time. Ten years without Stanley has been an eternity.
Yehi Zichro Baruch.