By Chana Braverman
On September 7, my cousins Beth and Morris Faitelewicz, as well as their future son-in law Yehuda Bayme, were tragically killed. They were returning from a great weekend together up in the country. They were a close family, always spending time together, and were even already discussing their plans for Pesach 2016.
The Faitelewiczes are a distinguished and well-liked family in their Lower East Side community. Morris was a member of Hatzalah (known as ES17) as well as an NYPD Auxiliary officer. He also nobly served as a 9/11 first-responder. Beth was a nurse in the Emergency Department at Beth Israel Medical Center. They were the parents of Yaakov, Shani, and Avi.
Beth and Morris were a special part of our family. I remember when I first met Morris. It was on a July Fourth weekend when my parents, Rabbi Benjamin and Rebbetzin Lisa Samson, were working in what used to be called the Pineview Hotel in South Fallsburg, NY. My parents met Morris and thought that he would be a perfect match for Beth. They hit it off and Morris was a part of our family ever since.
Throughout the years, we have all attended each other’s simchas, always excited to be together. I always have the picture in my mind of Beth with a smile on her face whenever I would see her.
September 11, 2001 will be forever etched in all our minds, and Beth and Morris were both involved in helping others on that day. Morris was supposed to be working and by some miracle he was late to work that day. However, as a Hatzalah member, he spent weeks at Ground Zero helping out. Beth, a nurse, was not supposed to be working that day at Beth Israel Medical Center. But after ensuring that her family was safe, she walked from her home to the hospital to see if she could help any survivors. However, as she told Fox News when she was interviewed, she and other medical personnel realized there were no survivors.
As years passed, Beth’s mother became ill and Beth took on the role of being a great caregiver to her mom. On Shabbos and yomtov, she would walk over the Williamsburg Bridge to see her mom at the nursing home. After her mother died, she would call her dad six times a day to ensure that he was okay and visit him as much as possible.
The last time we were all together was at a wedding of our cousin Sandy Schlesinger. We were having a blast, talking and dancing away. Shani was proudly showing us her ring, and we were all saying that the next family wedding to celebrate would be Shani and Yehuda’s. The date hadn’t been set yet and we couldn’t wait to hear when it would be. Shani was telling us about her dress that she was having made, and Beth and Morris couldn’t be happier that Shani and Yehuda were getting married after dating for five years.
The morning of the accident, Beth sent a message to friends and relatives: “Save the date! Shani and Yehuda wedding with G‑d’s help January 10, 2016.” For some reason, G‑d didn’t will it, but I keep that message on my phone, and it will be forever etched in my memory.
As heartbreaking as the loss is for us all, we must also consider that their children were passengers in the car at the time of the accident. Two of the children are still suffering from their injuries, but baruch Hashem are improving daily. Please continue to daven and say Tehillim for Yaakov Dov ben Blima Chana and Shoshana Chaya bas Blima Chana.
Now the community and relatives have to pick up the pieces. The Lower East Side community has been amazing, ensuring that Shani is never left alone in the hospital, as well as ensuring that the boys have everything they need, including being taken to their doctors’ appointments. We, as a family, are there for our cousins emotionally and physically. At this time, we have started a GoFundMe account to assist them in rebuilding their lives. Please visit https://www.gofundme.com/faitelewicz to assist them in rebuilding their lives.
Though we have no answers as to why this tragedy occurred, may we be able to lift ourselves up and be there to provide nechamah for the Faitelewicz family; Beth’s brothers, Michael and Mordecai; Beth’s father, Rabbi Bentzion Pitem; and Yehuda’s family and friends.
As we start a new year, may we all be zocheh to see only happiness and nachas from each other and witness no more tragedies in this world.