A Funeral in Scarsdale 2-25-06


A Funeral in Scarsdale


Richard J. Garfunkel

February 25, 2006




Today was Walter Grossman's funeral at Shaari Tikyah in Scarsdale. This synagogue has combined the Mount Vernon congregations of Temple Emanuel that was founded in 1916, which had merged with the Jewish Center that was founded in 1927, when it then became the Emanuel Jewish Center and the Genesis Hebrew Center of Tuckahoe that was founded in 1936. Warren and I went to the 12 o’clock noon service. Walter Grossman was an integral part of the history and the every day workings of both the Emmanuel congregation and his new home at Shaari Tikyah. Over the past decades Walter had attended almost every 7:00 am minion. Only with his recent health problems had he cut down his attendance to Shabot services. In the words of the Rabbi, Walter was always incredible asset to the synagogue and will be sorely missed. He was a real family man and a mensch in the strictest sense of the word. As a devoted father, he was involved in three core activities and interests; his family, his synagogue and his belief and efforts for charity.


Linda and I made a shiva call this afternoon to the Grossman home in New Rochelle, and I was able to re-connect with some of the long-lost memories of a wonderful childhood. Just to see some of the old photographs, that reflected and recalled our early experiences we had together, thrust me back in time, for a short but pleasant moment.


Walter Grossman, who was born in NYC in 1913 and had graduated from DeWitt Clinton High School, had come to Mount Vernon in 1950. A letter was read from Isador Leinwand, who was the then president of Emanuel, officially welcoming the Grossman's to the synagogue. His wife Sylvia, whom he had married in 1939, predeceased Walter in 1994. Walter and Sylvia had three children; Susan, AB Davis Class of 1959 (my sister Kaaren was in the Class of 1959 also), Joel, Class of 1963, and Marsha, Class of 1967. Susan passed away last year following her husband's death five years earlier. They had three children. Marsha and her husband Warren Sherman have two grown children and Joel and his wife Susan have also two grown children. Walter leaves seven grandchildren and five great grandchildren. 


I knew Walter and Sylvia from their earliest days in Mount Vernon when I was a young neighborhood boy. The Grossman's lived four houses up Magnolia Avenue from my house at 500 East Prospect Avenue. Joel and I went through grammar school, first at Wilson, then at Holmes. We both went on to Traphagen Jr. High School and then on to AB Davis. We went to school almost every day together in those years. Both Sylvia and my mother Peggy (who just celebrated her 98th birthday), would make sure that there was always a newly baked upside down pound cake ready for us. We usually consumed about five or more of them a week. That's why we both grew big and strong and we were able to metabolize those calories by being involved daily in sports. One of my clearest memories of the Grossman kitchen was always listening to the Arthur Godfrey morning radio program when I stopped by in the morning on our way to school. I didn’t know much about the “Old Redhead” in those days, but he had pleasant voice and covered social events in a congenial way. Joel and I did everything together and remained close friends through college and the beginning years of our marriage.


When Linda and I were first married, in July of 1969, we bought our bedroom set from Walter Grossman's store, Madison-Walters. Over the years, when I was driving near or on Magnolia Avenue, I invariably stopped by to visit the Grossman's. They were able to meet my children when they were growing up and were always as pleasant as they were when I was a young boy visiting. When I was a senior at Boston University they brought Marsha up to Boston to look at schools and they took me out for a great and memorable dinner at the General Glover's Inn up in past Lynn off rte 93. Over the years, whenever I would stop by their house at 87 Magnolia, the Grossman’s would invariably remind me of that costly dinner and the long meandering trip from Boston up to Swampscott. (By the way Linda, the kids and I got there once again before I believe it closed and had a great time with its legendary roast beef and popovers.)


Walter was a pillar of the Jewish Community of Mount Vernon, and his faith in his family and the importance of charity were solid to the end. His life and passing reflect the closing of another important chapter in the saga of the once vibrant and unequalled Jewish community of Mount Vernon. His life, and how he lived it, should be an important lesson to all of us who knew Walter, especially regarding the high level of dedication that he set for himself and achieved.   


Richard J. Garfunkel


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