‘Definition of mensch’ Feldman mourned in Feb. 27 memorial
By Deb Silverthorn
Special to the TJP
Hearts broken, hundreds joined to heal, to hold each other and to bid “shalom,” to Bruce Feldman, who would have turned 63 on March 7.
Feldman — the Jewish community’s teacher, friend, mentor, buddy and a member of every family he touched — died Feb. 25.
Congregation Anshai Torah was a standing-room-only sanctuary of love on Monday morning, Feb. 27, all remembering the treasured man.
Those Bruce brought under the chuppah and his b’nai mitzvah students — “900-ish” in 23 years of tutoring — helped fill the room, gazes engraved with pain. For his Kol Rina choir and congregation, the thought of praying without him is heart-wrenching. Childhood friends and family remembered the Dallasite who grew up at Congregation Tiferet Israel — serving as president, and helping start the Dallas Kosher Chili Cook-off — a teen leader in BBYO and throughout life. For the Level Ground and One Voice Outreach Choir and seniors at the Legacy, prayer will always ring with his passion.
Rabbis Stefan Weinberg and Michael Kushnick led a meaningful service. Kol Rina serenaded their friend’s soul, their solemn sound with one voice, deafeningly silent. Bruce’s children Liz and Eric, and their cousins Jen Bagesse and Gary Feldman, eulogized him.
“My Pops, the most charismatic, likable, and jovial person, pulled me through no matter what,” said Liz, married to Andy Chapel and the mother of Livi, Sophia and Henry, her memory bank full of painting Dad’s toes, making ankle bracelets and more. Finding her own voice through Bruce’s love of music, their duets she will miss. “He had a magical gift to make everything special.”
Liz and Eric spoke of Bruce’s kvelling as a grandfather, a role he treasured, calling time with his grandkids “a transfusion.” Weekend dates for oatmeal and a side of muffin — so simple, so lasting. The two promising to honor their father’s love of Jewish learning — she promising to learn Shacharit, and he to lead the Passover Seder — both wishing he’d give play-by-play lessons rather than their running the bases alone.
“Dad had an ear like no one and a photographic memory for the classics of the ’50s to ’90s and even modern-day rap,” said Eric, the husband of Erica and father of Levi, whose “Camp Dad” memories include pet shop visits, playing basketball, baseball card shows, travels, Dave & Buster’s and making movies.
“Dad was charming, spontaneous, and he helped me navigate through life, making everyone feel like they were the most important person on the planet.”
For Bruce’s wife Lori, his children and grandchildren, his mother Sylvia, mother-in-law Marilyn, stepchildren David (Rachel), (Erin), and Brett (Kat), brothers Marvin (Pam) and Herschel, sister Joan and grand extended family, the tentacles of the community hold you close.
“Bruce’s personality was infectious. It’s a terrible thing to not see his bright, shining face, to not share his bear hugs,” said Rabbi Weinberg. “This week’s Torah portion, Terumah, has God saying, ‘You shall bring gifts to me from everyone whose heart moves him.’ Bruce was defined by that love, giving of himself to all. That virtue must move us all to focus on the memories and finding something good to do to honor the man who taught us to smile, laugh and enjoy Judaism.”
At an almost full shul minyan Monday night many recalled stories — each person certain they were Bruce’s best friend, his closest confidant, the “one.”
Bruce once said, “It’s important we nurture and teach our kids about their faith and heritage. There’s one chance to instill this feeling and it’s important they connect and keep the feeling and spirit, hopefully forever.” Bruce was credited with connections and spirit throughout our community.
Upon learning of his death, community members filled Facebook with tributes. “Profound and deep impact.” “Changed our lives for the better.” “Guardian on earth.” “Bruce had a force of personality.” “The definition of ‘mensch.’ ”
May your name — and your awesome nicknames — be a blessing. One grand, Jewish, funny, musical, sports-loving, celebration-living, amazing blessing.
Memorials can be made to Levine Academy, Congregation Anshai Torah, or your favorite charitable organization. Those wishing to share messages, including tributes to Bruce pulled from his students’ b’nai mitzah speeches, can send them to the family at firstname.lastname@example.org.