Gary Turkel – a husband, father, leader and mensch to be honored


Mike Bloomberg told the story at Gary Turkel’s funeral this morning about the argument in heaven regarding whether to let the most special soul come to the Earth or not. The agreement was to let the soul come to the Earth but be returned to heaven after only a short time. This seems to be the only way to understand how such a mensch, such a blessing to his family and community, could be taken at such a young age, 41.

Family members, friends and Rabbis spoke about Gary and how he lived his life. He lived with intensity and commitment to his Jewish values.  He recently commission a Torah to be written.  Through his legacy at work and home and throughout his many communities, his children will know how to live their lives fully.

After a long hiatus from writing on my blog, I feel moved to write, to honor Gary and his family, Upper West Siders, in a way that makes his short life be a blessing. Those who spoke at his funeral were uplifting and inspiring, including his Brave wife Lesley.  We can be reminded to live our lives fully. We can appreciate the family and friends that we have. We can call, email, text, write letters to those old friends and newer friends. We can find the time in our day, to go out of our way to let others know that they matter and we care. We can pray, in whatever faith we have, in any level of observance, and lead by example. We can listen carefully to our clergy and question them, engaging in thought and being present in mind and body. We can dream about flying and plans beyond the here an now and yet, be grateful for what we have. We can stop, and smell our children, the roses and everything that life offers us as life is precious.  We never know when one day, an accident changes everything.

In the short week that my Mom, my dearest Louisa, was doing all she could to survive, and in the overnight realization that she would not longer live, I learned how a heart can ache, beyond anything I have ever felt before. Hopes and dreams changed forever. Gary’s brother said, so movingly, that Gary will grow old with him and all who he loved so whole-heartedly. For any of us who have lost loved ones know, through stories, recipes, tastes, smells, acts of hesed (loving kindness), we can keep their memories alive and they can grow old with us.

I plan to share the stories I have with Gary’s family throughout our lives and I will continue to think about how honored I, we, all of us are to have special souls and to live our lives as fully as we can.  While he worked hard and long… Gary’s legacy is one that his family can certainly be proud of as he loved and lived as we all wish to live. So many communities, Westside Institutional Synagogue, Lincoln Square Synagogue, the Atlantic Beach community, SAR Academy, Manhattan Day School, Camp Ramah, the JCC, Bloomberg LP, Shomirm, Hatzolah and many, many more that I wouldn’t even begin to know how to name – so many people’s lives have been touched by Gary. The display of love and support on the streets of NYC, literally walking behind Gary’s family up the block and onto his final resting spot, was mind altering for me. May we all find our community and place in this world – to make it a better place.

For all of us who are Dad’s have Dad’s, know Dad’s, give extra love today – Father’s Day.

You can also see the collection of resources I collected after my Mom died in the section at the top of this blog.

Baruch dayan ha-emet (“blessed is the judge of Truth”) for more information about Jewish death and mourning:


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Nanny salaries and school choices

If you have not yet signed up the the neighborhood Square, you might enjoy giving it a try!
Look below. Super relevant to our community.

Subject: Here is your Neighborhood Square Daily

Neighborhood Square

Neighborhood Square Beta
Things are happening in your neighborhoods! Here’s what happened today:
efrost1 · Upper West Side

What do you think of the nanny survey results? Do they line up with your experience or expectations?

SURVEY: Many Upper West Side Nannies Earn More Than the Average New Yorker

efrost1 · Upper West Side

What do you make of the shorter waitlists at local schools this year?

Number of Elementary School Waitlists Grows on Upper West Side, Data Show

efrost1 · Upper West Side

Do you think controlled choice could work on the Upper West Side?

UWS Parents Weigh Eliminating School Zoning Lines Through Controlled Choice

efrost1 · Upper West Side

Are you surprised to learn that dinosaurs had feathers and hair?

Climb Inside a Dinosaur’s Nest at the Natural History Museum

Neighborhood Square | 810 Seventh Avenue | New York, NY 10019


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March 2016 New York Family Volunteer Opportunities

This is a fabulous resource to volunteer with our families.
Sign up to receive these email updates directly.

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Curious about becoming a Human Milk Donor? Join us Saturday 3/5!

Are you curious about what a Human Milk Bank is? Interested in becoming a Human Milk Donor? Each breastmilk donation contributes to saving the lives of micro-premature babies!

Join us this Saturday, March 5th at Explore + Discover (444 2nd Ave. @26th Street) at 12 p.m. to learn more about human milk donations, why they’re important, and how you might be able to get involved. Dr. Caprio, Associate Professor of Pediatrics, NYU SoM, Director of NYULMC Regional Perinatal Center, will speak on behalf of NYU’s Donor Milk Program. Amber Star, Outreach Coordinator of the Mothers’ Milk Bank Northeast team, will share more about their wonderful organization & how to get involved. Light refreshments will be served & we will accept our first donation(s)!

RSVP here to attend our informational Ribbon Cutting celebrating E+D’s opening as MMBNE’s exclusive Manhattan Milk Depot!

Hope to see you there!

Kasey O’Brien

Outreach Coordinator


444 Second Avenue @ 26th St.

New York, NY 10010

(646) 810-9257 ​

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Really Ready to Read book event. March 6

UWS Mother/daughter book event.

Conscious Parenting – Really Ready to Read Event.pdf

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Girls Leadership on the UWS

From: “Girls Leadership” <elinzer>
Date: February 16, 2016 at 6:15:24 AM EST

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Mega Challah Bake for Kids – THIS TUESDAY



Thanks Limor and Noa for suggesting I spread the word… Friday nights will never be the same:

Please have your kids, boys and girls, Join hundreds of other NYC kids on January 12th at the New York Hilton Midtown for a child-centered event where the children can sift, mix, knead and shape the Challah dough together. A fun game show, musical entertainment and professionally produced instructional videos will make this a fun and interactive event for all involved. There will be a gluten free Challah baking option, and everything is kosher supervised! Snacks will be served.

The goal of the Mega Challah Bake for Kids is to foster unity and bring kids together to participate in a time-honored activity that is universal and celebrated by all baking Challah! The Mega Challah Bake for Kids is the brainchild of a group of New York City moms.

Join hundreds of Jewish children from across New York City for a day of unity and inspiration and ‘loaves’ of fun as we roll up our sleeves together to bake challah.

Kneading, braiding, baking, friendship and a game show. Learn our coveted challah recipe too.

DATE: Tuesday, January 12th

TIME: 4:30pm-6:00pm (door open at 3:30pm)

VENUE: New York Hilton, located at 1335 6th Avenue, between 53rd and 54th streets

COST: $18 per child / Group rate $10

AGE GROUP: Geared for children in grades K-8





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Bereavement program for Hanukkah

I attended this event after my Mom died and found it very useful. I highly recommend it whether you, a loved one or a friend will be facing a sad and happy – light and dark holiday season.

Lights in the Darkness: A Hanukkah Program for the Bereaved

Tuesday, December 8 | 6:30-8:00PM | 89th Street Reception Room
After a loved one dies, holidays can bring to the surface painful reminders of the loss.  Participate in a meaningful discussion with other bereaved Jews about how to allow for grief, while still finding meaning and comfort in the themes of the Hanukkah. Light refreshments will be served. Cosponsored by BJ and The Jewish Board’s Partners in Caring and Shira Ruskay Centers. Please R.S.V.P. to Billie at B’nai Jeshurun Synagogue 212-787-7600.

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UWS Playground to Get New Equipment in $705K Upgrade

I love DNAInfo… I get great news there and I wanted to share this article which is great news since there are so many schools nearby.

By Emily Frost | October 20, 2015 4:42pm

extralargeUPPER WEST SIDE — A local playground near the Amsterdam Houses and the new Riverside Center development will get a major facelift beginning this summer, the Parks Department announced.

Samuel Bennerson Playground — bounded by West 63rd and 64th streets between Amsterdam and West End avenues — will get outfitted with new play equipment, benches and picnic tables, spray showers and spruced-up fencing, the agency said.

Funded by Borough President Gale Brewer and the Parks Department, the $705,000 renovation will replace the current 17-year-old play equipment with brand-new structures and add new landscaping around the perimeter, among other upgrades, said agency landscape architect Katherine Bridges.

In addition, the Parks Department has already planned a $1.55 million upgrade to the playground’s basketball courts and entrance, previously funded by Brewer and City Councilwoman Helen Rosenthal, to make them more attractive and functional.

The play space will have two separate play areas — one aimed at 2- to 5-year-old kids and the other for 5 to 12-year-olds — both featuring new equipment that’s partially ADA- accessible.

The play structures, manufactured by Game Time, will be blue- and tangerine-colored, with “lighter” and “airier” forms, Bridges said.

“There’s lots of slides and climbing [opportunities]” on the play structures, she added, and both areas will boast play panels featuring moveable parts that are accessible to wheelchair users. A playhouse on the ground level of the older kids area will be accessible to differently abled children, she noted.

The upgrades will all include tan-colored rubber safety matting underneath the play structures, eight new benches along the West 64th Street perimeter and a paintjob for the surrounding fences. All of the planters will get new plantings and mulch, as well, Bridges said.

Four user-activated spray jets and a u-shaped spray loop kids can run through will be added, as well as four picnic tables, one of which has space for a wheelchair to roll up to.

“I’m glad about everything that’s coming into Bennerson,” said Marguerita Curet, president of the Amsterdam Houses Resident Association. “We only have basketball, basketball, basketball. There’s really nothing there for the children. The children don’t have anything, so this is really great.”

It’s easier from an engineering perspective to combine both phases of the project — the $1.55 million renovation to the basketball courts and surrounding area and the $705,000 playground renovation — Bridges explained.

Both phases are estimated to begin in August of 2016. The project is expected to be completed in the spring of 2017, the Parks Department said.

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NY Times article about PS 199

What do you think? I saw this on DNAinfo’s site:

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