Remembering the Dead to Keep Them Alive.

I had been planning on writing todays post about the semi-new club in the Meatpacking District called Griffin (where P.M. used to be.) I wanted to write about Griffin because for a club that is so beautiful, I don’t understand how the people inside could be so horrific (think ho’s and eurotrash.) 

However, yesterday in the evening, right before I was about to go out, some unfortunate news struck my family. I got a call from my father who said, “What are you doing tomorrow at 11 a.m.? Can you make it to a funeral?” Naturally, I said of course I could make it, and I immediately cancelled my plans for the night. Last night was the first night that I hadn’t gone out in roughly fifteen straight nights (It takes a lot to keep me at home.) 

While I was sitting at home on the couch, trying to distract myself from the news I had just heard by catching up on missed episodes of True Blood, I couldn’t help but wonder what I would write about today. Nothing seemed of enough importance… how could I write about a club, or a band, or a fashion show when I just found out that someone I had known my entire life passed away? I realized that I couldn’t write about anything else because everything else just seems so trivial at the moment. So I am writing about the only thing that is on my mind at the moment: Klara Horowitz’s funeral. 

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I know that writing about a funeral may come off to some of you as a little strange, but don’t think of it that way. Think of this as a tribute to Klara Horowitz. After all, Klara did not have any children and her husband passed away 43 years ago (in 1966!) She only has 1 blood relative left, a woman by the name of Este, who lives in Israel and who is fighting cancer. That being said, there were only 9 people at Klara’s funeral, 5 of those people were my family members.

So, how do I know Klara Horowitz? It’s actually a pretty amazing story. Her husband Josef Horowitz (1908-1966) was my grandfather’s grade-school math teacher in a small town in Poland called Podwoloczyska pre-WW2. But, when the Nazi’s invaded Podwoloczyska during WW2, everyone had to flee the town, and Podwoloczyska was destroyed. In fact, it no longer exists. 

A memorial to those who perished in Podwoloczyska, Poland

A memorial to those who perished in Podwoloczyska, Poland

My grandfather was fortunate enough to escape from Poland. Somehow he ended up in Russia where he joined the Russian army in order to survive (they gave you food, shelter, clothes, ect.) Had my grandfather not been literate, he would have died in the Russian army. How do I know this? Because one day, the troop that my grandfather was in went out on a mission, they walked through a field that had been planted with mines and every single person in the troop died. But, on that day, someone in the army office needed help reading a letter, and then writing a response. Who did they ask to help? My grandfather. So instead of walking through that field with everybody else, my grandfather spent that day in the office reading and writing letters. My grandfather may have been Polish, but on that day, he had the luck of the Irish. 

During that time in Russia, my grandfather Izak met my grandmother Anna. They were in some kind of place where people gathered (I guess that I could call it a bar, because you know how those Russians feel about their vodka, but its not a bar the way we think of a bar.) Apparently it was so cold out the night they met, that my grandmother was literally sitting on top of the oven in this ‘bar.’ My grandfather said that the heat of the oven made her cheeks rosy, and he fell in love with her (I know, I know, its beyond adorable, but listen, my grandma was a babe.) 

Naturally, my grandfather wanted them to be able to have a better life. He heard that a lot of people who had been displaced during the war were moving to Israel. I don’t know how they did it, this part of the story gets a little fuzzy, but Izak and Anna ended up in Israel where my father and my aunt were born. (Actually, that is not true, my aunt was born in Austria, in a refugee camp, on the way to Israel.) After 14 years of living in Israel, when my aunt was 14, and my father was 6, my grandmother (the hustler) made them move to America because she knew America had the most opportunities. 

My grandfather Izak with my father and my aunt in Israel

My grandfather Izak with my father and my aunt in Israel

When my grandparents, my dad and my aunt arrived to America, they moved to Brooklyn, Bensonhurst to be exact. Somehow my grandfather found out that his old math teacher Josef Horowitz was living in the Bronx. Now, you have to understand that both of my grandfathers parents (my great grandparents) were killed by Nazi’s in WW2, so hearing that his math teacher was alive, and living in the Bronx, was like hearing that he may have some sort of father figure… someone who had known him since he was a little boy. My grandfather found out his address and took my grandmother, father and aunt to meet him. 

The bond that they had after they were reunited was incredibly strong. After all, only a very small amount of people survived from their small town in Poland. My grandparents Izak and Anna would go visit Josef and his wife Klara in the Bronx all the time. But, when Josef became ill in the mid-1960’s, he knew he was going to pass soon, so he asked my grandfather to look after his wife Klara, especially since they had no children. Of course my grandfather agreed and when Josef passed in 1966 we always went to visit Klara and spent every holiday with her. 

Klara always thought that she would pass before my grandfather being that she is 14 years older than him. But, that wasn’t the case. In the year 2000, my grandfather passed away after being sick for a long time with stomach cancer. Before he passed he asked my father and I to continue the tradition of taking care of Klara when he was gone. And that was exactly what we did. I remember Klara at my grandfathers funeral, she couldn’t believe he went before her. She kept on saying, “But he was so strong, he was strong like an ox.” 

Klara Horowitz made it to the age of 99. On January 9th, 2010 she would have been 100. She wanted to make it to 100 so badly, but she will, because she will be alive in my memory. Today, during the grave side service, the Rabbi said something very beautiful. He said, a person can die 3 times. 1. When they close their eyes and their heart stops beating. 2. When they are burried. And 3. When they are forgotten. That is why I have written this post. To share this story with all of you so they won’t be forgotten. I will keep them alive in my memories.

So, what’s the ribbit of the day? The ribbit of the day is: RIP Klara Horowitz, Josef Horowitz, Izak B, David Jacoel, Richard Bailey, Paul Monka, Perry Monasebian, Harry Selzer, Rachel Wichalevski, Miriam Klopukh… and all others who have passed before us.

Love your friend,

                              The Frogge ❤

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6 Responses to “Remembering the Dead to Keep Them Alive.”

  1. absolutely lovely.

  2. This is so beautiful.

  3. evegalewitz Says:

    Interesting blog and post which I came across when I googled my old friend David Jacoel and sadly see he has passed away. I found no obituary and he was young – it is truly heartbreaking. My heart goes out to his family.

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