Deal, NJ - Rise And Fall Of Dwek: From A Generous Man To FBI Informant
Deal, NJ - Solomon Dwek’s reputation in the West Long Branch area was built as much by his philanthropy as his real estate deals.
When 7-year-old Ryan Michael Saberon fell ill with cancer, Solomon Dwek became his friend. Dwek visited him weekly for a year, his father, Eugene G. Saberon, said.
In early 1998, Ryan was in a hospital room at Monmouth Medical Center, Long Branch, when he noticed a boy wearing a yarmulke in the bed next to him. He knew that meant the boy was Jewish, and told him he had learned in Christian Sunday school that the Jews were God’s chosen people.
Rabbi Isaac Dwek visited the Jewish boy that day, and his son, Solomon, soon came into the room. The Dweks spoke with Ryan.
Solomon then began visiting Ryan regularly, and the two had long conversations together about God, the Bible and Jewish tradition, Eugene Saberon recalled.
“He would hear Ryan speak about God and heaven,” said Saberon, a Christian. “They talked good together. Solomon shared a lot of things with me about the Jewish religion. He lifted our spirits many times. The man helped me in many ways. He kept my hope up. He’s a remarkable man. Ryan loved him.”
Solomon Dwek, 33, of Ocean Township, helped pay the hospital bills for the family, said Saberon, who has worked as a handyman and cook. He lived in Long Branch at the time but now lives in Middletown.
In the final hours of Ryan’s life on Oct. 25, 1998, Dwek and another philanthropic businessman, Frank Muzzi, sat in the hospice room and comforted the family.
Muzzi said the two “commiserated together” and sat with the family for two hours that night.
Later, Muzzi and Dwek both paid money to defray the cost of the funeral. The donations were meant to be private, but Saberon’s thank you to both men was published in a weekly newspaper.
Muzzi said he admired Dwek for his efforts to help the family.
“I had a great deal of respect for a person who struck me as a caring individual,” Muzzi said. “It impressed me greatly because it was not something he did in the Jewish community. These were not Jewish people.”
John Donato Jr., a local developer who has worked for and sold land to Dwek in recent years, said Dwek helped him get a new house to live in after he filed for bankruptcy on some of his businesses in the mid-1990s. Dwek gave him a $60,000 mortgage, land records confirm.
“If this kid hadn’t helped me, I wouldn’t be here today,” Donato said. “No one can ever say anything bad about him to me. I think he’s a hell of a guy. He’s not a bad person. I know him as a family man. He’s an honorable person.”
Dwek was known to make other charitable donations, such as to Monmouth Medical Center and the Neptune-based Jersey Shore University Medical Center Foundation. In 2003, Dwek donated a granite monument in memory of Frank Caltabilota, the West Long Branch student killed in a dormitory fire at Seton Hall University on Jan. 19, 2000. The monument is located in Valenzano Park on Wall Street in West Long Branch.
Dr. Gabor Barabas, a neurologist whose avocation is producing plays at the Lumia Theater in Long Branch, said Dwek had given the theater $55,000 over the past seven years to pay for a new facade, renovations to a small side theater, and tickets for children to attend shows.
Barabas said that in appreciation, the theater named the side stage the “Dwek Studio Theatre.”
“I offered that. He did not ask for that. Solomon never asked for anything.”
Among the Sephardic Jewish community, Dwek was revered, according to several members who spoke privately. They reported how he met with Yeshiva students after prayers and donated money to families in need.
David Haber, 23, a student of the Deal Yeshiva, said in May that Dwek frequently wrote personal checks to help cash-strapped students and their families. Many yeshiva students do not work as they attend school. Dwek was vice president of the yeshiva until his arrest on federal bank fraud charges.
“Many mornings, there are people waiting for him at the synagogue after prayers, asking for his help,” Haber said. “He is a very nice guy. He helps everybody. There is only good to say about him.”
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