As North Jersey was digging itself out from last weekend’s blizzard, members of the Jewish community were in mourning for two men killed in separate accidents.
Dr. Michael Lippe, 56, of Mahwah was flying to the Rochester, N.Y., area when his plane crashed Wednesday, Dec. 22, in upstate New York. For 15 years Lippe had been emergency room director at Good Samaritan Hospital in Suffern. For the past year he had been working at Geneva General Hospital in Geneva, N.Y., in the Finger Lakes region, and that’s where he was going when his plane crashed. According to the Yates County Sheriff’s Office in New York, Lippe was flying through freezing rain and sleet when the plane went down in Barrington, N.Y., after striking trees. His single-engine Mooney M-20 lost a wing and front engine.
In another tragedy, Dr. Paul Kudowitz, 57, of Englewood was killed in a hit-and-run accident last Friday night in Englewood while walking home from shul. Englewood police declined to give details of the case, but said the investigation was continuing.
Both men were recalled with affection and respect by those who knew them.
|Dr. Michael Lippe Courtesy Lippe family|
For the past seven months, Lippe had been putting on tefillin every morning, said Rabbi Dov Drizin, director of Valley Chabad in Woodcliff Lake, which Lippe had attended for more than10 years. Drizin praised Lippe’s intelligence but that’s not what defined him, the rabbi said.
“He wasn’t a religious Jew but he had a strong spiritual pride,” Drizin said. He was “very philanthropic – beyond the call of normal duty,” the rabbi continued. “He had a very human and warm touch to him.”
At Lippe’s funeral last Friday at Gates of Zion Cemetery in Airmont, N.Y., Drizin said, he spoke of the irony that Lippe was always working to save lives, but in the end, there was nobody to save his.
Lippe’s daughter Jordanna recalled at the funeral that her father would recite the Aishet Chayil, Woman of Valor, every Friday night for his wife, Suzanne. Jordanna recited the traditional Friday night invocation at the funeral, dedicating it to her mother.
“He was the best father, husband, and doctor anyone could ask for,” Jordanna told the Standard. “He knew how to work through any problem.” Her father loved flying, she recalled, and family members would often fly with him.
“He had a certain type of mentality, the critical thinking that made him a great emergency room doctor and a good pilot,” she said. “Flying was always a part of his life.”
Compassion defined her father, she said. Even while working a 12-hour shift in the emergency room, he would say, “Of course these people don’t want to be here, how can I make it better for them?”
Lippe’s memory was honored at a service at the Hatzolah ambulance squad garage in Monsey, N.Y., attended by members of many squads in the area, said Simcha Klein, Hatzolah executive director. The funeral procession included up to 15 ambulances from the area, he said.
Klein recalled Lippe as “a good man who helped a lot of our EMTs through his classes,” He said Lippe’s work as emergency room director brought him into close contact with squad members over the years.
Kudowitz, an anesthesiologist and pain management specialist and father of six, was always giving, said his son-in-law, Jonathan Katz of Englewood. Katz, recalled that in the early days of his business, Kudowitz helped Katz and his wife, Robyn, with the down payment on their house.
“He always wanted to make people happy,” Katz said. “He’d give the shirt off his back to somebody who needed it.”
|Dr. Paul Kudowitz and his wife Ricki Courtesy Kudowitz family|
Kudowitz would often say that blood is thicker than water, Katz said.
“He meant it in every sense of that phrase,” he said. “He was always about his children, always about his wife, they were first and foremost.”
After a memorial service at Cong. Ahavath Torah on Sunday, the family flew to Israel Monday night for burial.
Rabbi Shmuel Goldin of Englewood’s Cong. Ahavath Torah recalled that one of Kudowitz’s children said that he loved to love and loved to be loved. That, Goldin said, defined Kudowitz.
“The gift that Paul gave to us is if he was your friend, your father, your grandfather, your husband, he loved you and you knew you weren’t alone,” Goldin said. “His love knew no bounds.”
Rabbi Menachem Genack, spiritual leader of Cong. Shomrei Emunah in Englewood, had known Kudowitz for some 20 years. Although Kudowitz regularly attended Ahavath Torah, he would frequent Shomrei Emunah because his two sisters – who have since moved to Israel and Passaic – would attend there. Israel and Zionism played major roles for Kudowitz, who was a supporter of Israel’s Aleh Foundation, an organization that provides for disabled children.
“His heart was in Israel, now he’s buried in Israel,” Genack said.
Kudowitz’s accident has sparked a review of safety procedures for shul-goers, Goldin said. While the rabbi does not believe, based on witness reports of reckless driving, that the accident would have been avoided because of increased visibility, “we’re going to make a very strong push again to encourage our members to wear reflector vests and belts when they’re walking so they can become more visible,” he said.
Two people from Genack’s synagogue were hit by a car a few years ago, and that incident persuaded shul-goers to wear reflective vests. “It’s a good idea to review that again,” the rabbi said.
A close friend recalled Kudowitz as a “special person,” who would go to the “end of the world” for those close to him. The friend, who did not want to be identified, said Kudowitz always gave 1,000 percent to whatever he did.
He recalled how Kudowitz started work as a occupational therapist but then decided he wanted to be a doctor and approached medical school with his characteristic determination. He said Kudowitz was injured in an auto accident seven years ago and had been subsequently unable to work, but never lost his zest for life and took up carpentry as a hobby.
Katz remembered his father-in-law not just for his generosity, but also for his love of building things. When he and his wife bought a home across the street from Kudowitz and knocked it down in October 2008 to build a new home in its place, Kudowitz arranged for the subcontractors.
“He loved projects,” Katz said.
Dr. Aaron Stein, who attended BTA High School in Brooklyn with Kudowitz, recalled a trip to Israel several years ago with Kudowitz, another mutual friend, and all of their families. Right before a rafting trip down the Jordan, the Israeli guide said not to worry, the boats rarely capsize. Sure enough, the boat holding Stein, Kudowitz, their friend, and Kudowitz’s daughter Ariele capsized almost immediately. As the boat and Ariele floated down the Jordan, Kudowitz shouted to the others to hang on to other boats while he swam after them.
“He swam down the river to get his daughter, who was floating freely down, grabbed her, swam back up against the current, and brought his daughter and the boat back to the side of the river,” Stein said.
“If he was your friend, he cared about you,” Stein added. “He did anything that was in his capability to help you.”
Kudowitz is survived by his wife Ricki and children Robyn, Brian, Ariele, Shanna, Cara, and Sabrina. Lippe is survived by his wife Suzanne and children Paige, Jordanna, and Jeryl.
|The family of Dr. Paul Kudowitz requests donations be made to the following organizations:
Aleh Foundation: www.alehhfoundationusa.org
The Michael J. Fox Foundation: www.michaeljfox.org
The Frisch School Scholarship Fund: www.frisch.org
The Moriah School Scholarship Fund: www.moriah.org
Cong. Ahavath Torah Gemilas Chesed Fund: www.ahavathtorah.org