Mordechai Dovid Feldman Remembered for Smile, Teaching

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No one remembers ever seeing Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Feldman not smiling.

No one remembers ever seeing Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Feldman not smiling.
Not Yalli Avitan, who owns Judah Mediterranean Grill, where the rabbi was mashgiach the past six years.
Not Sheila Lax, who recalls how her 11th-grade teacher would open up his home to his students, trying to make them feel closer to Judaism.
And not Hershel Weitz, who considered him almost a brother from the time they spent together at the Lubavitcher Center in the Northeast.
And they all say it just won’t be the same not having Rabbi Feldman, who passed away April 13 at the age of 69, in their lives.
“He’s been here from day one for six years, and I have nothing bad to say about this man,” said Avitan, who became concerned when he arrived at the restaurant Monday morning, April 11 and discovered Feldman — who would call whenever he might be a few minutes late — had not shown up for work.
“He cared about his job and the people he worked with,” said Avitan. “Besides that, he became so close to our family, even though we were not religious. When my dad was in the hospital a few months ago, the rabbi would come to see him every Friday. He’d take a taxi from the Northeast, drop off a challah and wine, then take the cab back home.
“My Dad’s over in Israel now. He’s heartbroken to hear this news.”
So is Weitz, who’d known him more than 25 years.
“We just clicked and became very close,” said Weitz, who is a Chabad rabbi. “I’ve been involved in all his family simchas.
“He was originally from Brooklyn. For many years, he was a second-grade teacher at Beth Jacob,” he added, referring to a private school in Elkins Park which closed in 1986. “Many of the young adults in Philadelphia are recipients of his wisdom.
“He had such a good heart. When Beth Jacob closed, he went to Boston and was teaching up there. Then he went to California and Atlanta before coming back here.”
Upon his return, Feldman worked as mashgiach at the Acme on City Line Avenue in Bala Cynwyd, while at the same time becoming involved with what the Chabad movement calls mivtzoyim, activities designed to teach other Jews mitzvot like the use of tefillin and tzedakah in an effort to elicit pride in their Judaism.
Weitz recalled that every year the rabbi would put up a flyer at Passover inviting anyone in the neighborhood to come to his house for the Seder.
That was typical of him.
“His home was always open to guests,” Lax said. “As a Jewish studies teacher, he influenced many young children becoming closer to their Jewish roots. He was very compassionate and warm. Always had a kind word and a smile on his face.”
According to Avitan, seeing Feldman at the restaurant was reassuring to customers.
“As soon as they saw him, they didn’t have any questions about something being kosher,” Avitan said. “Everybody trusted him, and he knew all the answers. Everybody who walks in and hears about him is so sad.
“I do have two other great mashgiachs, but nobody like Rabbi Feldman.”
Rabbi Mordechai Dovid Feldman is survived by his wife, Rachel Leah; sons Menachem Mendel, Nesanel Yehuda and Yosef Yitzchak; daughters Liba Devasha Yabra, Nechama Dina Keller, Chanah Esther Kachala and Chayah Miriam Katz; and several grandchildren. He was buried at Old Montefiore Cemetery in Queens, N.Y.
Contact: jmarks@jewishexponent.com; 215-832-0729

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