The families of Ovadia Mussaffi and Larry Krause mark one year after devastating storm

The families of Ovadia Mussaffi and Larry Krause mark one year after devastating storm

'So many beautiful stories'

As told to Deena Yellin Fuksbrumer

Larry was a one-of-a-kind individual. Whatever people will remember about him, it will automatically be with fondness – recalling his beautiful smile and consideration for all.

Over this past year, people have shared so many beautiful stories about my husband. Larry was a very optimistic person who always sought to cheer up other people who were in distress. Even when he was going through his own hard times, it rarely showed. He always wore a smile.

Larry Krause remembered for charity and a smile. Courtesy Krause Family

Larry was known for being very charitable, setting aside money to help others regardless of whether his business was doing well at that time. My husband made a special deal with a butcher on Manhattan’s Lower East Side that if a customer couldn’t afford to pay, he would cover the bill. This is just one of many instances in which Larry helped people without their knowing it. He also paid bills, rents, yeshiva tuitions, and for funerals of poor people. Once when we were at a coffee shop, he saw an old man who looked like he was very poor. He slipped some money into his pocket in a way that the man wouldn’t notice. And of course, there were all those hours he spent on the phone providing free legal consultation to people at any time of day or night.

My husband used to love to collect old siddurim, and he would restore them. He used to tell people that he did this because tzadikim had davened from them. He liked to use a 150-year-old German siddur, of which he was very proud.

People often asked him about the old fur coat that he always wore, even though it was in very poor condition. It had belonged to his father, who passed away just two years before this happened. Larry loved him very much and was very close to him. So after his passing, Larry wore his father’s coat all the time. This coat was used as a blanket, mattress, and pillow for kids. This coat is about 60 years old and was in disrepair. It was also totally out of fashion so people always asked Larry about it because it seemed incongruous that a successful attorney should wear such a coat. His own mother was begging me to buy him a new coat, but he refused. Wearing it made him feel closer to his father.

To me, it doesn’t matter exactly which stories people recall about my husband, just the fact that they remember him is enough.

During the shiva period last year, many of Larry’s friends came to visit us. I was struck by the fact that his friends formed a true cross-section of people – from chasidic Jews in Brooklyn to Reform Jews in Manhattan, from Hindu and Jamaican friends from Queens to Puerto Rican friends from the Bronx. His circle of friends represented a microcosm of New York: people of all ethnicities, races, cultures, and religions.

What they shared was their praise of Larry, and the fond memories of the good times they spent with him. Everyone who came into contact with him, whether as friends or clients of his Manhattan law practice, felt that they had a special connection with him and that he truly cared about them.

One of Larry’s friends told us how Larry hosted a Thursday evening dinner for friends and business associates in various restaurants around Manhattan. The group was quite diverse, including chasidim, Modern Orthodox, atheists, and Christians. (Obviously, the kashrut was at the highest standard). Around Larry, everyone felt comfortable and special. His smile was constant, and even when he was going through very difficult times, he didn’t let it show. He was always calm, friendly, and in a good mood, no matter what the circumstances.

The pain of losing him is unbearable, but thanks to HaShem, we live in Teaneck, which is a great community that has opened their arms and hearts to our children, despite our being new in the neighborhood. Rabbis, neighbors, and community members have offered their support to our six children and are trying to fill the void as much as possible.

I feel like my life has been turned upside down. Because I have a family to support I have to continue to work full-time. At the same time, I have to continue to be a mother and father full-time, which doesn’t leave much time for anything else.

The loss is in front of me every day throughout the day. I cannot even begin to think of all the things about my husband that I miss the most. It is a very trying period, but HaShem, who is trying me, is the same HaShem who provides me the tools to overcome the hardship and do what I need to do to continue to raise our family.

The community’s support and friendship of my children has taken a huge burden off me, as it really helps the children to cope. That helps to ease my own suffering as well.

Larry had accumulated a huge amount of good will with many people who are here to support me and assist me whenever I need an ear to listen to my heartache or a wise mind to offer guidance and assistance. The outpouring of support from Larry’s network of friends keeps me going, and I am very thankful for that. This is the inheritance that Larry left me with, the network of friends who graciously extended their friendship to me and are here for me when needed.

When you are married to someone, you think you know him so well. In the past year, I have discovered things about my husband I never knew. For example, I discovered the vast number of people whose lives Larry touched in a constructive way and who feel that they have lost a special friend. I could have never have imagined that one person could be beloved by so many and was able in his short life to help so many people. But that was who my husband was.

That awful day that the tragedy occurred, we were supposed to be in Israel. We had planned to go to Israel for the weekend, but we didn’t have a passport for our then 2-month-old daughter, Geula Rachel, so at the very last minute, we had to postpone our trip to Thursday. But suddenly, realizing that Thursday would bring us to Israel too close to Shabbos and he feared being mechalel Shabbos [desecrating the Sabbath], Larry put off the trip until the following week and we stayed home for the weekend.

This detail, together with the unusual circumstances of how he died, proves to me that this was no accident and that HaShem had a plan and everything that happened was according to His will for reasons that we can’t comprehend.

Knowing that HaShem is the one who planned and executed the plan according to His will gives us the strength to continue with life and assures us that a time will come when we will understand the reasons for the happenings. Until that time I need to continue to raise the family just as my dear husband would wish me to.

A commemoration for Larry Krause will take place on Saturday, April 2, at 9:15 p.m. at Cong. Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck.

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