By Larry Gordon
Always smiling, friendly, and bursting with energy and enthusiasm—that’s how I will remember Chaim Silber, who was niftar on Wednesday morning at the age of 70.
“You can’t imagine the loss,” said a sobbing Sheya Mendlowitz just about an hour after we learned about Chaim’s passing. “No one knows what a tzaddik he was,” Mendlowitz said.
Chaim’s daughter Esther Berg is one of the prime moving forces behind the Couture for a Cause event taking place on Thursday evening. She told her friend and co-organizer Michal Weinstein that she very much wants the event to go forward as a z’chus for her father. The annual event is a benefit this year for the Lev Leytzan organization, a group that dresses as clowns and entertains children in hospitals both here and in Israel. “This is an event that he would have wanted to happen,” Ms. Berg told Ms. Weinstein.
Chaim was known as Lobo, also the name of the summer bungalow colony baseball league and team he helped develop, and as we went to press it was still unclear whether his nickname or the team name came first.
“He was completely committed to doing good,” said music impresario Shloime Dachs. “There were times he would call me up and say that he understood I was playing at a wedding and that he wanted to pay me and also give me a check for the photographer,” Dachs said. He explained that Chaim did not want the family making the wedding to know that he was paying, and Dachs said that Chaim wanted him to take credit for paying for the music and photography. “I couldn’t do that, so at the end of the simcha, I had no choice; I just had to tell people that everything was taken care of.”
He had many close friends and was extraordinarily popular, but amongst his closest friends was Mr. Mendlowitz, who told us yesterday that he spoke with Chaim every day.
“He was modest and his philanthropy was discreet,” Sheya said. “He did not wait for someone to tell him that they needed help with any number of matters; when he heard about a situation—when someone was making a simcha or required funds for some other matter—he would often just slip money under their door in the middle of the night.”
Mendlowitz recalled the time that Chaim found out that someone needed a kidney and for whatever reason had to purchase it instead of waiting for a donor. “Chaim showed up and was not interested in the why or the details; he just said ‘how much’ and ‘who do I make the check out to?’”
“There was a period a few years ago when I had to be in the hospital, and I don’t know what to tell you, but he was just there every day to visit and cheer me up,” Mendlowitz said.
Eli Schwebel recalls how Chaim infused every simcha with extra-special joy. “He had this dance—we called it the Lobo dance—where his legs would prance around like a chicken with his feet turned inward. As kids we always tried to emulate him.” Eli adds that back in Brooklyn on Rosh Hashanah he would love joining Eli’s father and grandfather to lead the shul in singing some of the tefillos. “That was a high point for him and for us; I would see him on those occasions singing and crying. He was the best—there are no words.”
Sheya says that all Chaim wanted to do with his resources was to improve people’s lives. He refused to have his name posted anywhere in recognition of his generosity.
“Recently, as he endured his illness, he told me that he just wanted to live so that he could help people and do more chesed.”
The levayah was set to take place on Thursday morning and the family will be sitting shivah at their home in Lawrence.