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Manhattan, NY - Funeral Held For Lower East Side Crash Victims; Velazquez Honors The Faitelewiczes On Floor Of Congress

Published on: September 9, 2015 06:15 PM
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Crowds attend the funeral inside the Bialystoker Synagogue on Sept 9, 2015. (Shimon Gifter/VINnews.com)Crowds attend the funeral inside the Bialystoker Synagogue on Sept 9, 2015. (Shimon Gifter/VINnews.com)

Lower East Side, NY - They davened for years at the historic Bialystoker Synagogue, made bar mitzvahs for their two sons there and today, for the last time, Morris and Beth Faitelewicz returned to the landmark shul, this time for their joint funeral.

As previously reported on VIN News, the two beloved members of the Lower East Side community died in a single car collision on Route 17 on Monday, along with their future son in law, Yehuda Bayme.

Hundreds of people turned out to pay their respects to the Faitelewiczes at the 10 AM funeral.

(Video credit Shimon Gifter/VINnews.com)

Mourners overflowed onto the Bialystoker Place where dozens of police officers in full dress uniform and an honor guard stood at attention in tribute Morris Faitelewicz who served as an inspector and officer with the NYPD’s auxiliary police for over 40 years. Two of the Faitelewiczes three children, sons Yaakov and Avi, were present at the funeral while their daughter Shani remained hospitalized and was unable to attend.


Among those who eulogized the Faitelewiczes were Rabbi Zvi Yaakov Romm, rabbi of the Bialystoker Syngogue, Heshy Jacobs of Lower East Side Hatzolah and several relatives, including Rabbi Mordechai Pitem and Dr Michael Pitem. 

Both Yaakov and Avi Faitelewicz spoke about their parents and a letter written by Shani Faitelewicz to her parents was read aloud by Rabbi Romm, with the Faitelewicz children expressing gratitude to their parents.

A police bugler played taps outside the shul at the conclusion of the approximately two hour long funeral and somber faced NYPD officers led the Hatzolah ambulances carrying the Faitelewiczes, as hundreds of shattered mourners followed behind, accompanying the couple who had been described as “a fixture on the Lower East Side” to their final resting place at New Montefiore Cemetery on Long Island.

Avi Faitelewicz comforted by an unidentified family friendAvi Faitelewicz comforted by an unidentified family friend

Beth Pitem Faitelewicz worked as a nurse at Beth Israel Medical Center for over 29 years, arranging her schedule so that she could be available to her children.  Known for her perpetual smile, her optimism and her incredible warmth she loved to dance at weddings in order to bring simcha to the family members.  In addition to her children and her two brothers, Beth Faitelewicz is survived by her father, Rabbi Bentzion Pitem.

Ellen Cohen, who has known both Faitelewiczes for years, remembered a phone call she got soon after her engagement from Beth Faitelewicz.

“She called to offer me her wedding gown,” Mrs. Cohen told VIN News. “That’s the kind of person she was.”

The two came full circle as Mrs. Cohen received a text from Beth Faitelewicz the morning she died on almost the same topic, this time in reverse.

“She sent me a text asking if she could borrow my dress to wear to her daughter’s wedding,” recalled Mrs. Cohen.

As a couple, the Faitelewiczes were very much in synch with each other.  Both were described as kind hearted, giving people who were very close to each other and their friends and lavished that same sense of warmth on their three children.

“You never had to ask twice for a favor,” said one neighbor who asked to remain anonymous.  “They always opened their home to all of the young adults in the neighborhood.  They were part of the community on so many levels.”

“What was yours was yours and what was theirs was yours,” added Mrs. Cohen.  “They were the first ones to invite anyone for a meal and would do anything for anyone.”

Both Faitelewiczes leaped into action on 9/11 with Morris Faitelewicz racing to the World Trade Center while Beth Faitelewicz walked to work on her day off, waiting to tend to the expected casualties, which sadly, never arrived.  Ironically, the Faitelewiczes passed away on the 23rd day of Elul, exactly 14 years to the day after the deadly September 11th attacks.

Morris Faitelewicz worked for the Port Authority for 32 years, was a Title 1 instructor who taught English and math, taught emergency cardiac care classes at area hospitals and schools for 19 years and was the owner of a business that specialized in cardiac care consulting for hospitals and emergency care facilities.  He served with the NYPD’s Auxiliary Police Auxiliary Patrol Support Unit, Auxiliary Emergency Services Recue Unit and Rescue Services for over 41 years and had been with Hatzolah for decades as well, where he was best known as ES17.

The fact that Morris Faitelewicz, who also sat on Community Board 3, served in so many different capacities made him an incredible resource to other volunteered in multiple arenas.

“He was one of the first people to reach out to me when I got on the FDNY,” said Moshe Starshefsky, a volunteer firefighter and Hatzolah member who lives in Passaic.  “He was extremely knowledgeable, the kind of guy I looked up to.  Any kind of question you had, he had an answer based on his experience.”

Stareshefsky said he would frequently bump into Morris Faitelewicz when he was on the Lower East Side.

“I would run into him at a shiva call, if I was getting something to eat in the area or if we were in the hospital on a call at the same time,” said Stareshefsky. “Every time I ran into him it was like we had just seen each other and he always said hello and shared a story with me. Occasionally I would see his wife in Beth Israel and it was nice to see a frum nurse there.”

Filling Morris Faitelewicz’s shoes will be extremely difficult, said Stareshefsky.

“Everything he did was about helping people and the void he left is enormous,” said Stareshefsky.  “He was a family man, but on top of that he held so many different positions.  So many agencies and organizations are now going to have to scramble to fill that void, dozens of them, because that’s the kind of guy he was.”

Despite his many responsibilities, Morris Faitelewicz was never too busy for his children and
both Yaakov and Avi Faitelewicz also credited their mother for juggling her job and her familial responsibilities with incredible grace.

“They both said how their parents were their life,” said David Kornblum who attended today’s levaya.  “No matter what was going on, Morris had time for all of his kids, even when he was doing four jobs.  Mom always had a smile on her face. Even when she worked the whole day, she made supper with a smile.”

The recent engagement of Shani Faitelewicz to her long time beau, Yehuda Bayme, filled both Morris and Beth Faitelewicz with incredible joy and they were eagerly anticipating the upcoming chasana, which had just recently been set for early 2016.

“One of her friends had said that they had just gotten a text from Beth that morning asking them to hold the date for the wedding,” recalled Kornblum.

Both the Faitelewiczes and the Lower East Side had welcomed Yehuda Bayme with open arms.

“Yehuda was from Riverdale but he moved here recently,” said a Lower East Side resident.  “He would come for Shabbosim often and he became part of the community so it was natural for him to move here.  He was a really nice guy and he became part of the family.”

Bayme would wake up early to drive his kallah to work so she wouldn’t have to travel by train, returning afterwards to the Lower East Side for davening and a shiur before heading off to work.  Bayme’s funeral was held yesterday at the Hebrew Institute of Riverdale and he was buried at the Cedar Park Beth El Cemetery in Paramus.

The Faitelewicz’s passing leaves a gargantuan hole in the fabric of the Lower East Side’s Jewish community.

“Everyone here is in shock and utter devastation,” said Jacob Goldman, who runs the Lower East Side Facebook group.  “These are people who have always been involved and cared for the community. With Morris, he was involved in Hatzolah, the community board, the police auxiliary and he was active in the shul.  As an ER nurse, Beth was there for anyone who needed anything and you knew you could count on her. If you needed a bandage removed, Beth would do it. If an elderly person needed shots, Beth would take care of it.  They were just wonderful people and everyone loved them.”

Morris and Beth Faitelewicz and Yehuda Bayme were all honored today for their volunteerism on the floor of the House of Representatives by Congresswoman Nydia Velazquez, whose district includes the Lower East Side.

“This tragedy is being felt deeply in the Lower East side,” Congresswoman Velazquez.  “Not only were they respected community members but Morris and Beth had been involved in response and recovery efforts on the 9/11…I ask my colleagues to join me in honoring the memories of Morris and Beth Faitelewicz and Yehuda Bayme.”

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Read Comments (8)  —  Post Yours »


 Sep 09, 2015 at 06:42 PM cool masmid Says:

I think this year more then any year that I can remember, Klal Yisroel can offer the RSO our collective broken hearts on Rosh Hashana.


 Sep 09, 2015 at 07:16 PM elyeh Says:

As an ex-East-Sider and daily shachris at Bialystoker, B'DE


 Sep 09, 2015 at 10:16 PM Anonymous Says:

very nice pictures.


 Sep 09, 2015 at 11:57 PM Anonymous Says:

I didn't know them at all, but I am so sorry.


 Sep 10, 2015 at 08:39 AM PaulinSaudi Says:

I also appreciate the photos.


 Sep 10, 2015 at 05:15 PM Melanie Says:

This loss is not only felt on the lower east side but all the way over on the opposite coast. Beth was one of kindest person I have ever had the pleasure of knowing. When I first moved to NYC and had no friends or family near, she took me under her wing and welcomed me with open arms. Her compassion and friendship got me through some of the toughest days. I'm forever grateful that I had the pleasure of knowing her. Today my heart aches, but my soul smiles for the impact she had in my life.


 Sep 11, 2015 at 01:38 PM chanabell Says:

i have known Morris and Beth for over 30 years. they were the nicest most kindest people always ready to help anyone in need.... they will be missed ....


 Sep 16, 2015 at 12:36 AM lgmarch Says:

I remember Beth from Central Brooklyn. She was in my sister, Lisa March's (Z"L) class and we were all friendly. Beth was such a happy, sweet, nice and outgoing person. This is a tremendous loss.


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