Video from The Funeral of Melvin Gradofsky

Monday, December 17, 2018

Video also available here (in case the embedded video above doesn't work).

Video is also available for thirty days after the funeral from here.

Text of the Eulogies are below.

Biographical Overview
By his son, Noah Gradofsky

My father was born on July 4th, 1938 in Brooklyn, New York. His father left when he was three years old, and so he was raised by his mother, who was about the strongest woman you would ever meet, and to whom my father was tremendously dedicated throughout her life of 102 years. His older brother David predeceased him. He went to Chayim Berlin, Boys High, and Brooklyn College. He was a three-and-a-half-pack-a-day smoker until my mom said he had to choose between the cigarettes and her. He never smoked another cigarette, even though decades later he still craved them. He was always very proud that as a left-handed pitcher he was offered a spot on a Brooklyn Dodgers farm team, though he declined the opportunity. My father was married to my mother, Lilian, for 53 years. Shortly after my sister Miranda was born my parents moved to Laurelton. This remains my parents' home to this day. My parents also bought a home in Parksville, New York, which my father referred to as their Shangri-La. Professionally, my father started out servicing IBM computers that were as big as a room and probably even bigger. He hated having a boss, so his brother recommended the insurance business. My father was an insurance broker for the rest of his life, never having completely retired --- he was still servicing current clients when he went into the hospital for the last time. My father was tremendously dedicated to Judaism and the Jewish people, serving as a Vice President in one synagogue and President in another.

 

Eulogy by his grandaughter, Rheonna Koss

There is no such thing as the perfect human, and there never will be. But some people come pretty close to that. When I say perfect, the kind of person I think about is a selfless, generous, and caring person who is constantly putting everyone's needs before their own. Someone who finds joy in life and manages to continue to flourish through it. This is exactly who my gramps was.

No matter the day or hour, you would never doubt for one second that you were as important to him as chocolate or maybe even more. He of course had his grump days, just like we all do. But we need to remember that he did pride himself on having the maturity of a child. Maybe that is why he got along with his grandchildren so well, most of the time. He always supported us no matter what. Even in my theater career, him and my grammie came to ever performance they possibly could. Even though he won't be there physically to see my show next semester that I finally got a good part in, I have no doubt that he will be there watching in whatever way possible. Sometimes, well, a lot of time, he would be so involved in our lives that he would carry a camcorder and record us everywhere we went and everything we'd do. I remember getting irritated at this quite often. One day, I asked my Grammie why he had to tape every move we made. Her answer was simply that it made him happy, and being happy is exactly what he deserved.

We have known he was in pain for a while now but I am happy knowing that his soul is with Hashem. I'm pretty sure they'll be great friends. Gramps definitely deserves that.

One goal that he constantly mentioned was to travel to Israel with his family one more time. Something that astonished me about my gramps is that he never missed a Friday night call to wishh his family a good Shabbas and said every prayer at all our meals. I can confidently say that he has touched everyone's lives here in some way or another and I am proud to say that he is my Gamps and will stay in all of our hearts, always.

 

Eulogy by his grandson, Maverick Koss

In all of my limited years, I have not met another like him, and I doubt I will. My gramps, Melvin, he may not have had the patience of a saint, but he sure had the heart of a one.

As I was writing this, I couldn't figure out where to start. After all, how do I capture all I want to say, all I need to say, about a life so tremendously important to me in a few short paragraphs?

From the times when I was young and we arm-wrestled on the Parksville kitchen table, and he always won, to when he spoiled my siblings and I time after time, to going down to swim in the lake where he filed everything, EVERYTHING, to remember. As we are all here now to do in our turn. He may be gone now from our lives but he will always be there in our hearts and memories, and of course his voice in the 3,000 videos.

As for the things he taught me, they are innumerable. He taught me what caring truly was, and to never take anything too seriously. He taught me that giving wasn't just an act of kindness but a life's work, and that money is no object when spending on those you love. No words can describe how deeply I feel sorrow in this moment, but I only need three to tell you how much I, how much we miss him, "So, so much."

I spent 21 years with him around, but looking back it feels so short yet so filled with incredible memories. Most of all, I remember his shining kindness and love towards his family, friends, and faith.

Through these tear-soaked pages saying goodbye I only feel myself growing closer to, him which makes the goodbye all that much harder.

Well, I have said plenty of words to you all. So, I want to dedicate these next three to you Gramps. "I love you."

This is your best-oldest-grandson. Over and out.

 

Eulogy by his daughter, Miranda Koss

I know everyone always says they have the best father in the world but my brother and I really did. My daddy, my tattie, would have done anything for me, my brother, and my cousins as well. Some things about my tattie that made him who he was is that he loved to eat, he loved to curse, and he loved to make sure everyone he knew was properly insured. My father most of all loved his family, Judaism, and Israel.

His dream was to have both of his children attend The Jewish Theological Seminary of America. When I was rejected from the Jewish Theological Seminary my father called them up and yelled at them so much that they changed their minds and let me in. When my brother applied, I think they were too exhausted to say no to another Gradofsky.

When Ron and I told my father we were naming our first son Maverick Spencer, he said, "Is that a joke?" When Rheonna Fortune and Evanston Falcon came along he knew better than to question our choices in names. He loved them all with a passion. He always new he could rely on Ron or my kids to climb on the roof of his Parksville home to clean off the pine needles, even in freezing weather. I also remember how happy my father was when Noah married Melissa.

My dad had a few favorite quotes. He always used to say "Rich or poor it's nice to have money" and "I'll never let maturity stand in my way." I mean, how many adults insist on having a birthday party every year? He also used to say "shver to zein a Jet fan," which means "it's hard to be a Jet fan." Very true. He taught me that. When my dad was sick with cancer he started saying "I'm the healthiest sick person you'll ever meet." Another phrase he used to say is that he would "live to 100 if it kills him." Lastly, he said, "Sometimes you ask G-d and G-d says no." I know my father asked for a long life. I am not really sure had a long life, but I know he lived a good life. My mother made sure of that. My father was very content with the life he lived.

In the time I had my father he taught me how to love. He taught me how to spoil my children and to be spoiled. He taught me that family was the most important thing. He taught me to believe that all humankind should be treated with love, decency, and respect. Thank you, dad, for helping make me who I am today.

Rest in peace, dad.

Eulogy by his son, Noah Gradofsky

Let me begin by saying thank you to everyone who supported our family and continues to support our family during this very difficult time.

It was very poignant that my father passed away on Shabbat Vayigash (NB: In the Eulogy I accidentally referred to Miketz). One of our cherished family memories was when we lucked into front row seats to Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat. We listened to the sound track on our many car trips upstate. My father loved to review the parashah each week. So, on Shabbat, I told dad about the weekly portion, which told about the end of the Joseph story. My sister and I sang some of the songs from the musical. I thank הקדוש ברוך הוא (the holy one blessed is He) for allowing my mother, sister, and I to be there for his final moments.

This coming Shabbat, we will read about Jacob blessing his children. Every week, no matter where we were, my sister and I would get a call from my father, blessing me with the words from this coming Shabbat's Torah portion, "יְשִׂמְךָ אֱלֹהִים כְּאֶפְרַיִם וְכִמְנַשֶּׁה" may God make you as Ephraim and Menashe" (Genesis 48:20) and blessing my sister with the traditional words, "ישימך אלהים כשרה, רבקה, רחל ולאה may God make you like Sarah, Rebecca, Rachel and Leah." Once Maverick and Rheonna started college, he called them to wish them a Shabbat Shalom as well. My parents spent a fortune on our education - private Jewish schools from grade school through college, as well as graduate school. My sister and I graduated from these schools without any debt. We always knew that he would help us out in any way we needed, ranging from financial support to emotional support. He was always there for us in our darkest hours and to provide encouragement for us to stay the course and abide by our convictions. All the little things he did to love and support us throughout our lives made his encouragement that much more meaningful when it was most needed.

While my father lived to bless his children, children-in-law, and grandchildren, in both spiritual and material ways, in turn, we were his pride and joy and he loved to brag about us and our accomplishments. There isn't a waitress or a taxi driver in Israel who doesn't know that I am a rabbi and a lawyer. He bragged about Miranda being the most caring and understanding person in the world, Ron being a wonderful provider just like he was, Maverick being a lifeguard, Rheonna's theatrical talent, Evanston's gymnastics talent, and Melissa's being a professor and an author. He was our walking resumes. By the way, my decision to be introduced at this service as Rabbi Noah Gradofsky, Esquire is in deference to how my father would have wanted it. He also regularly reminded us of how proud he was of us and how we had been good children to him. We, in turn, always told him he could not have been a better father.

One of my greatest blessings was to have a father that was also one of my closest friends. We had a lot of common interests, like politics, sports (although thank God he didn't make me be a Jets fan ... that was Miranda's problem) and movies, and I was lucky enough to concentrate my legal practice in insurance law, so that he was also able to be a professional colleague and I got to "talk shop" with him as well. My father would often say something superlative about me, and then he'd qualify it with the phrase, "Not just because you are my son." Well, Dad, I never thought of saying this to you, but not just because you were my father, there is no one in the world I would rather have spent time with. You were truly both my father and my friend.

My father was also defined by his honesty and integrity. A long-time friend and client Frank Silver told me that he never knew a person he trusted more, a sentiment many his clients shared. I would hear him tell clients, "I won't sell you that policy. It's not the right thing for you." If a client got a better quote from someone else, my father would tell that client that he couldn't beat that price and tell the client that she or he could go that way.

My father liked and respected people even if they disagreed with him, as long as they did it the right way. That was doubly true for his children. Not too long ago, after I had an extended debate with him, he called me a day or two later just to remind me that I should never hesitate to disagree with him and that he never wanted me to feel that I couldn't speak my mind to him. Some fathers remind their children to respect them. How many fathers call their sons to remind their sons to be comfortable disagreeing with them? From my father, I learned that the greatest of respect does not require deference.

My father loved all dogs whether they were his dogs, the grand-dogs, the neighbor's dogs, or a dog he passed on the street. His dogs were his children. He often referred to my sister and me as his "best human children," which let us know where we stood. I'm sure Daisy, Candy, Terry, and his grand-dogs Bingo and Ginger were first in line to welcome Dad into the world to come.

My father was an optimist who was genuinely was happy and appreciated the gifts he had in life. My Uncle Barry told me a few weeks ago how even twenty plus years ago, when my father was diagnosed with colon cancer, he told my Uncle that he had lived a good life. In the past months, unbeknownst to us, he told two friends, Frank and Dennis that he was ready to go. He was satisfied with the many blessings he had in his life.

Life wasn't about accumulating wealth or status for my father. It was about enjoying life and helping your friends and family to do the same. He didn't fret from spending money on things that he or his family enjoyed (except maybe long-distance phone calls). "That's what money is for," he would say. My father was a child at heart, and loved to buy the latest toys, which were mostly electronic gadgets and the most recent phones, TVs, etc. He was self-employed and worked mostly out of our basement, so when we came home from school, he was there. When we had vacations or a long weekend, so did he. If my father wanted a bigger house or a fancier car, he could have worked harder or spent less on our education. But as long as he had the money to do the things with and for the people he loved, that was all that mattered.

One of his greatest joys was going to restaurants with his friends and family, rarely allowing anyone else to pay. As his friend Dennis Rovin commented, my father read a menu like a Hebrew book, always thinking of dessert first. Another of his greatest joys was our home in Parksville, a joy he graciously shared with many of his friends. As Dennis explained:

Much as my father was such a blessing to us, the biggest blessing he received was my mother, his wife. Although it wasn't often enough, he sometimes expressed this beautifully. I vividly recall the moment when we were leaving Israel and my mother hugged and cried with my cousin Shuli. Shuli's husband said to my father, "you have to understand, Lilian is a second mother to Shuli." My father responded that Shuli could not have chosen a better person. My father, too, was like a second father to many of my cousins, even though they were all from my mother's side of the family. At their 50th anniversary party, which was after he was diagnosed with Multiple Myeloma, he spoke of everything she did for him and called her his eshet chayil (woman of valor). A little more than two months ago, when we celebrated mom's birthday, he told everyone how she had gone above and beyond in taking care of him. Mom, in very real ways, without you, I might never have known my father, he might never have seen me graduate college, or get married. Dad knew you were a saint and wanted to monopolize every ounce of your sainthood rather than sharing it with everyone else.

Ending where we began, there is no greater blessings than a parent's love. Jacob gave a double blessing to his son Joseph by blessing Joseph's two children, Ephraim and Menashe, rather than only blessing Joseph. My parents partnered with each other to give their two children the greatest double-blessing one could ask for, the blessing of the most caring and supportive parents. Today, one of those two blessings is consigned to heaven and to our memories. יהי זכרו ברוך. His memory will be a blessing.