On April 7, Jeffrey Ethan Silver – a much-loved husband, father, son, brother, uncle, and friend – died at Columbia Presbyterian Hospital at the age of 47.
The son of noted community activists Drs. Sandra and Arnold Gold and of Dr. Howard and Jayne Silver, Jeffrey was described by his sister, Maggie Gold Seelig, as the family’s historian and “go-to guy.” He was also, she said, a man whose life was devoted to doing good.
|He was ‘everybody’s big brother,’ said sister Jennifer Arnold of her brother Jeffrey Silver, who died on April 7.|
At his funeral – which filled the sanctuary at Temple Emanu-El of Closter last Thursday – Rabbi David-Seth Kirshner noted that Jeffrey “chose as his final act in this life to donate his working organs to people that were in need of them.”
“What a gift,” he said. “What a beautiful Jewish act.”
“To know Jeffrey was to know that he always did the right thing,” said his mother, Sandra Gold. She cited the rabbi’s statement that, with Passover then approaching, Jeffrey, “with a pure soul, as one who never got puffed up,” might symbolically be compared to matzoh.
“He didn’t aspire to travel to distant places, eat fancy dinners out, or extravagance of any kind,” said Seelig. “He lived responsibly within his means, satisfied to have a meaningful job, work hard, and enrich the lives of his children and family. He knew and practiced the essence of what Mom calls the Dayenu Principle.”
“He was everybody’s big brother,” said sister Jennifer Arnold, noting that his siblings were only vaguely aware of the illnesses Jeffrey suffered, and overcame, as a child. “Whether it was delivering baskets for Rosh HaShanah to all the family friends or going to ShopRite at 11p.m. for a forgotten ingredient, Jeff was the man,” she said.
“I realize now that there were so many hurdles for you, but you always took them in stride,” she said in her eulogy, “so I never understood what courage and strength you had. A hearing aid, OK. The burning infusions of potassium, survived. The diabetes and the loss of chocolate cake, not so easy…. Dear brother, with each challenge you just grew stronger.”
Jeffrey had undergone brain tumor surgery as a toddler and thereafter faced a serious learning disability, his sister said, “but it did not faze him.” The family was told when he was 4 l/2 that he would never learn to read, but “two months later Jeffrey was reading and went on to successfully graduate from Syracuse University.”
“He never played the victim card,” Seelig agreed, adding that as the family prayed for him in his final days, they remembered “countless stories of Jeff’s going out of his way to help one of us – particularly his parents. Jeff took his responsibility as the eldest son and the big brother to heart and never let us or anyone down.”
As an example, she cited his willingness to help his grandfather Max after a stroke, leaving work during lunch hour to eat with him, “even though Grandpa couldn’t speak a single word.”
Jeffrey, who lived in Rivervale, was an employee at Englewood Hospital.
In a eulogy written by his mother and delivered by Seelig, Sandra Gold acknowledged that “it does take a village” to raise a child and thanked “all of you who made opportunities for Jeffrey to use his strengths and who helped him achieve his goals.”
“Thank you for believing in him,” she said. “He absolutely never let us down.”
Jeffrey is survived by his parents; by his wife, Dara Klein Silver, and children David and Lilliana; and by his siblings, Stephen S. Silver and Michele, Jennifer Arnold and Coby Mor, Amelia Gold Benson and Dr. Brian, and Maggie Gold Seelig and Jonathan. He was also the beloved “Uncle Bear” of many nieces and nephews.
A memorial fund has been established in his name. Contributions may be made to the Jeffrey Silver Memorial Fund at the Arnold P. Gold Foundation.