Gordon Lederman, zt”l
May 12, 2013 2 Comments
I am sad.
I just came from the funeral of a friend. This particular friend was someone who means a whole lot to a lot of people, and I won’t presume to a degree of closeness which I don’t have. However, he influenced me (and lots of other people) in some extremely profound ways.
When Sarah and I were newly married and I went to stay for a Shabbat at Kesher Israel, I accepted a hospitality invitation, and it was Gordon who took me in. I didn’t know anyone, and he made me feel completely welcome. I later learned that this was just who he was: he *always* made people feel welcome, and he welcomed people into his heart in the same way that he welcomed them into his home.
I learned a lot from him over the first few years I was at Kesher. I saw his devotion to his family- he spoke lovingly and often of them, and his apartment was surrounded by their pictures. He was a mainstay of the synagogue, specifically in the unsung tasks of setting up and cleaning up. He neither asked for any particular credit nor sought any recognition for doing this- he simply saw a task which needed to be done and did it.
He had tremendous drive to do bikur holim (visiting the sick) among other things. When he was single, lots of women were interested in him. I remember him telling Sarah and I that the way he knew that Lisa was the right woman for him was that he mentioned that there was a hospitalized person he had wanted to visit who was quite a long way away (if I recall correctly, the patient had been moved). Without missing a beat, she said, “Let’s go!” It says something about him that the quality he prized in a spouse was an eagerness to help others.
I once answered a couple of questions for him about networking, and it turned out that he was doing research for the 9/11 commission report. The copy of he autographed for me is something I treasure.
I’ve long said “I want to be Gordon when I grow up”. He was born just one year before me, but always seemed to have himself so much more together- I had the sense that he was the one who exemplified the things which I should be doing.
I think the story which truly captures the essence of my experience of Gordon is that when we came to visit him after he got sick, and we were talking, when he learned about our health and infertility problems, his response was “I’ll add you to my tehillim (prayer) list”. I think it takes a special person to, when faced with his own terminal Illness, make a point of praying for the recovery of others. And yet that was just Gordon being Gordon.
It is my feeling that he was the single best man in my generation. I miss him already.
May the memory of the righteous be for a blessing.