The Longer We Live…

TORONTO (Jan. 19) — I lost my brother this morning. Not my blood brother, because I never had one. But, the individual that has come closest in my life to filling that void. Big Moishe. My sweet Benjamin’s colleague. The person I grew to love more deeply than anyone but my closest relatives. Gone without warning. Still don’t know how.

And, honestly, I’m not sure where to turn. This is devastation. Intellectually, I understand the longer we live, the more of these gut–churning episodes we’ll endure. But, intellect and emotion do not always merge. Like at this moment. I’ve never written a blog through the blur of tears. Until now. Moishe is gone and I can’t believe it.


We were always texting and Messaging on Facebook. Moishe was naïve, but not stupid. He would send me “news bulletins” that were hours or days old. Such as during our last exchange (below), earlier in the week, when he posted about his favorite National Hockey League player, Marc–Andre Fleury. Yes, English was Moishe’s second language; he was born in Morocco. Evident in his messages. But, I always played along. He loved to talk about hockey and his favorite team, other than the Leafs, was the Vegas Golden Knights. Not because they won the Stanley Cup last spring. But, given that Fleury played there after the expansion club joined the NHL in 2018:

I’ll never forget how his eyes lit up when I introduced him to Zach Hyman, then still with the Leafs, at a cemetery during the pandemic. And, just a few weeks ago, when I called Glenn Healy over to the hearse after a service at our chapel. “This is my pal, Moishe,” I said to Glenn, who always knows how to treat someone like a brother.

Moishe loved to be feted. And, I was only too happy to oblige. Every year, on his birthday (May 20), I would take him to a branch of the LCBO and let him run wild. Told him he could buy whatever he wished (while holding my breath). It reminded me of watching my kids, back in the day, when I’d let them loose in Toys ‘R Us. He was so happy. Neither would he break the bank. Usually, a bottle of Tequila sufficed. Nor would I be telling the truth if I said I didn’t fear this day. Moishe was substantially overweight and couldn’t do much about it. Once a month, I would treat him, after work, to Sheli’s Burger and Fried Chicken, the kosher take–out place on Bathurst St. and Chabad Gate. I would grab a burger. Moishe would have two chili dogs, an order of chicken wings and a poutine.

All I could do was pay for his meal and pray.

Now, I can’t take him out anymore. And, it hurts so much.

You want to talk sweet? Once a day, at work, Moishe would come up to me and say he’d been praying for my father while reading Tehillim (Hebrew psalms). Dad turned 90 in August and lives in a retirement home. Every day is a blessing. And, Moishe knew that. I would often drive him home after work; he lived in the apartment complex at Bathurst and Rockford, south of Steeles. The effort it required for him to lift his frame out of my passenger seat always struck me. How difficult it must have been to carry that extra weight. But, he always smiled; always loved a self–deprecating jab. I’d be in a vehicle with him and make a silly wisecrack about one of our work colleagues. He would howl with laughter, knowing I was just horsing around. Oh, how I’ll miss those moments.

It may sound corny, but we often said how we loved one another as brothers. Moishe fell into a depressed state during the pandemic, when the city was shut down. He’d call me and say he couldn’t get out of bed; there was nowhere for him to go. That his room was dark. I would implore him to take baby steps. “First, open your window shade, Moishe. Let some light in. When you feel up to it, walk onto your balcony and smell the air. You’ll see, this won’t last very long.” Nor did it. Moishe took those steps. And, felt better in no time. Which made me smile.

Now, we have to go on at Benjamin’s without him. Precisely how, I can’t comprehend. Not yet.

The pain is too raw.

Rest in peace, bro. I will love you forever.


24 comments on “The Longer We Live…

  1. Thanks for this beautiful tribute. I knew Moshe for most of his 57 years. He was a gentle kind soul who loved being around friends. Never spoke bad about anyone. He is truly missed amongst all those who knew him. He is now our special angel in heaven praying for our health and safety, and maybe even a good word for the Leafs.

  2. Thank you for the wonderful tribute Howard. Moishe was a gentle soul and will be dearly missed. God bless.

  3. The world lost one of its best. Moishe, or “Morris” as I would call him, was truly one of the kindest people in the entire world. Never had a negative thing to say about anyone. Was always happy to see you and curious about how you were doing. May his memory forever be a blessing. His soul should be elevated to the highest levels of heaven. BDE

  4. Beautiful, Howard. Sorry to hear of this. It is evident that the two of you cherished each other. You get through it by holding onto the positive memories and when you smile or laugh, know that his soul is probably there with you. DMH

  5. Dear Howard,
    So very sorry for your loss.
    Long time fan of yours, enjoy your posts.
    May Moishe rest in peace and may his memory be a blessing!
    Jeff Strohl

  6. Dear Howard,
    Sending my deepest condolences. I was so moved reading about your deep and beautiful bond with Moishe. I am so sorry.

  7. Howard, I don’t know you and I’m not Jewish, but somehow you made me feel both. May Moishe’s memory be a blessing to you. Thank you for sharing your love for him with the world. Those of us who read this will all hold our people closer to our hearts because of you both.

  8. HB-So sorry for your loss. You never get used to losing a loved one at such a young age. You have suffered greatly and unfairly, but Moishe’s friendship was a blessing and something you will always cherish. I’m only sorry I never got a chance to meet him and talk about the Leafs.
    Much respect.

  9. Morris as I knew him since childhood was always the guy the kids gravitated to at Synagogue. He loved talking sports. Most Jewish Holidays he spent at my parents home and he was one of us. This hurts. This hurts bad

  10. It’s such a blessing to work closely with someone who you enjoy being around! Sorry for your loss.

    Having read your blog for years it’s obvious you have a great memory when it comes to memories! Cherish those memories of Big Moishe.

  11. A beautiful yet somewhat tragic story of brotherly love. The kind that is earned and never presumed. May the reverie be rich and enduring to carry you through the loss.

  12. So sorry to hear this news. The suddenness of passing this way never gets easier on those who are left behind .
    Sorry for you loss Howard

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