Covid versus community

Covid versus community

A death in the family leaves a hole in Rockland Jewish life

The whole family gathers at a happier time; top, from left, Marty and Bobbie Goldstein, Jason Weinger, Jill Goldstein, and Mikala, Tamar, and Jerry Weinger. Eli and Eileen Weinger are in front. (Bobbie Goldstein)
The whole family gathers at a happier time; top, from left, Marty and Bobbie Goldstein, Jason Weinger, Jill Goldstein, and Mikala, Tamar, and Jerry Weinger. Eli and Eileen Weinger are in front. (Bobbie Goldstein)

Why do I start with this title? I asked myself that question many weeks ago, when our family personally felt the full effect of covid-19.

In February of this year, Marty and I were travelling to France and Saudi Arabia; Israel was our final destination. We were completely unaware of what was lurking in the background, and what was about to change our family’s lives forever.

On May 16, after a month-long battle with covid, our daughter, Jill Goldstein, lost her beloved husband, Jason Weinger, and their three youngsters lost their phenomenal father. This disease had tentacles of indignities attached to it, as Jill, the children and our immediate family soon were to find out.

Jason was sick and he was quarantined at home for a week. Seeing no improvement in her husband’s condition, Jill dialed 911.

That call altered their family forever.

From the day the ambulance left their house with Jason in it, Jill and the children were not able to visit Jason in the hospital. They never saw him in person again. They never heard his voice again, and they were not permitted to be by his side as he faced numerous debilitating setbacks as the disease ravaged his body.

Three weeks after he was admitted to the hospital, the final indignity occurred; with no family by his side to say a final goodbye, Jason, the husband and father Jill and their children loved so dearly, died from complications associated with covid.

Jill and Jason did so many wonderful things together, and they each assumed voluntary roles in Rockland County. Jason was a volunteer fireman for 19 years in Rockland, and previously wherever his family made their home. Jill, Jason, and the children were an integral part of the Rhoda Bloom Food Pantry in Rockland. Jill quietly did deeds of goodness that we only learned about after Jason’s death, including shopping for those who could not do for themselves during this dreaded virus.

Their children gave of themselves as well, whether it was by helping youngsters who were challenged, by volunteering to serve food to the needy on Sunday mornings, or by countless other acts of kindness, always following in their parents’ footsteps. They knew that to give back was a mitzvah, and they did so, never looking for praise, but willingly giving of themselves.

I know there are many stories like this, each one heartrending, so why did I choose to write about this one? I wrote it to honor our community, a community that came forth and gave of themselves from the moment Jason became ill. A community that gave charity in Jason’s memory, gave their time, made phone calls, and came for outdoor visits at a time where the Jewish tradition of shiva was so drastically altered, showing us yet another indignity of this virus.

A food train was set up by members of the community and dozens of families participated in it, so that the Weingers were able to choose meals from restaurants they had frequented. This allowed them to have a dinner delivered or picked up every night, from the day Jason died until the end of June.

Contributions are still coming to Jewish Family Service for the food pantry in Jason’s memory, enabling the pantry to provide additional food supplies for those in need during this challenging time. Contributions also continue to be made to the Suffern Fire House, and to many other worthwhile causes. Close neighbors, family, and friends continue to help with things seemingly too menial to even mention.

So the purpose of this article is to remind us of our community. To be a part of the Jewish Community in Rockland County is unique, and the outpouring of visits, telephone calls, contributions, and so on happens when you are a part of the community.

We are a large family and we are there for Jill and our grandchildren, Tamar, Mikalah, and Eli. Being part of the Jewish community of Rockland County, however, exemplifies the importance and significance of being part of such a deeply routed community, which during this time of uncertainty is so appreciated.

Bobbie Goldstein and her husband, Marty, live in Suffern and are active in the Rockland Jewish community. Ms. Goldstein was the national chair of Israel Bonds, and Mr. Goldstein was on its board of director. Ms. Goldstein also is on the boards of the Holocaust Museum & Center for Tolerance and Education in Suffern and Rockland Jewish Family Service.

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