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Bonds of Life: Memorializing those we lost to COVID-19

Elihu Fishman, 92, was a lifelong Connecticut resident

Elihu Israel Fishman died May 8 due to complications from COVID-19. He was 92. Elly was born in Fairfield, the third of four children of the late Aaron and Rose Fishman. 

As a young boy, he worked at his father’s movie theaters, The Fishman Theater Corp. with locations in New Haven and Fairfield. He skipped sixth grade and at the age of 16, entered the University of Connecticut, where he played trumpet and varsity football,9. He later served as a medical assistant in the U.S. Navy. 

Eli met his wife, the late Myrna Beth Seicol, when they were counselors at Camp Laurelwood in North Madison. They married while he was in dental school at Temple University. Upon his graduation, he and Myrna settled in West Hartford to establish his dental practice in Elmwood. He retired in 1981 at the age of 54 and later moved to Bloomfield. Athletically inclined, Eli played pick-up basketball and volleyball until he was 49, and then took up jogging well into his 60’s. He also coached West Hartford youth basketball for many years. 

Elly held leadership positions on the boards of his synagogue and was an active member of the Woodworking and Metal Crafts Club at Heritage Village as well as an EMT on their ambulance service. In retirement, he became a prolific gardener and woodworker, making furniture for his children’s growing families, intricate inlaid wooden bowls, lathe-turned vases, creative whirligigs and birdhouses.

Elly and Myrna traveled the world with Appalachian Mountain Club. They back-packed the Grand Canyon, hiked in Costa Rica and Norway, canoed the Allagash Wilderness Waterway in Maine and the Boundary Waters of Minnesota. They traveled to over 50 Elderhostels in China, Greece, Alaska, Canada and Prince Edward Island.

He is survived by his children, JoAnne and her husband Jack Kloppenberg and their children, Shalako and her husband Michael Thomas, and Micah and his wife Carrie Breunig and their daughter Isla, and daughter Kestrel; and his son James Fishman and wife Diane and their daughter Julianne and husband Austin Slitt and their sons Grayson, Cameron and Lincoln, daughter Christina and husband Alex Steckel and their daughter Surrey, and son Ross.

David Behrbom, 47, public school teacher who loved the Yankees

(JTA) – David Behrbom was a talented athlete in his youth, making it all the way to the high school state championships in baseball. But it was a moment on the field in a Babe Ruth League game that his brother says truly encapsulates Behrbom’s character.

It was the final inning, the game was tied, and Behrbom, then maybe 13 or 14, was on third base when he got the go-ahead to steal home – which he did to win the game.

“It was pandemonium,” Adam Cohen recalled. “The look on his face was pure joy that he was able to do that for his team and his crazy idea worked. That shows his courage, his audacity, his willingness to step up.”

Behrbom, who died April 5 of COVID-19 at the age of 47, wound up becoming an elementary school teacher. He taught at PS 55 in the Bronx, 25 miles and a world away from Ardsley, the Westchester County suburb where he grew up and where he lived with his wife, Elizabeth, and their two children.

Behrbom was a physical education teacher at PS 55, and each year he would organize Olympic Field Day, a school-wide athletics competition that was a highlight of the school calendar. He was also a lifelong Yankees fan who loved old-school hip hop and coached baseball and soccer.

In March, Behrbom was diagnosed with leukemia and began undergoing chemotherapy. After he took ill with COVID-19, his family sought blood plasma from donors who had successfully recovered from the coronavirus, a treatment that researchers hope may help patients struggling to fight off the disease. Behrbom died the day he was due to get the treatment, the New York Post reported.

“I do think about him every day, we all do,” Cohen said. “I don’t think that’s ever going to change. The hole he leaves in our family is just profound. We were lucky to have him for as long as we did, and his memory is cherished by all of us.”

Arthur Mostel, 85, was a Stamford doctor

Arthur Philip Mostel, 85, of Stamford, died on May 13 at Stamford Hospital, of complications caused by Covid-19. Born on New York’s Lower East Side, he was the son of William and Charlotte Mostel, and the stepson of Sylvia Mostel. He attended Stuyvesant High School and Hunter College in New York City, and graduated from Albert Einstein College of Medicine. He was married for 59 years to Stella Krampf Mostel and raised three children together in their home in Stamford. After completing his residency in obstetrics and gynecology, he served in the U.S. Military from 1965-1967 in Fort Eustis, Va. After that, he entered private practice in Stamford Connecticut with Dr. Robert Madison. After several decades of private practice, he practiced obstetrics at Metropolitan Hospital in New York City until his retirement. He was an active member of Chavurat Aytz Chayim. He was predeceased by his loving wife, Stella, and his brother, Howard Mostel. He is survived by his children, Robert Mostel and Sigal Tal Or of Kibbutz Megiddo, Israel; Carolyn and Jeffrey Weiser of West Hartford; and Linda and Danny Kucinski of San Diego, Calif.; his grandchildren, Kfir, Ronen and Ilan, Barak, Raam, Samantha and Sam, Emily, Sydney, Joshua, Amanda, and Jacob, and his fiancee, Janet Gluck.

Samuel Tellar was a long-time resident of West Hartford

Samuel T. Tellar, 83, of West Hartford, died May 10 peacefully at St. Mary’s Home from COVID-19. He was the beloved husband of the late Barbara Krantz Tellar. Born in Hartford, he graduated from Weaver High School. Samuel worked at the Hartford Courant for over 30 years before starting his own hot dog business. He was a member of the Knights of Pythias where he enjoyed playing cards with the members there. He was a loving and devoted father and grandfather. Samuel is survived by his four children Keith, Steven, Irwin and Tracee Tellar; his grandchildren, Rebecca Hurley and Justin Tellar; his brother Robert and his wife Carol ; and many nieces, nephews, cousins and friends.

Suzy Levy, 66, dedicated nurse who refused to retire

(JTA) – Suzy Levy was the head nurse at the Ear, Nose and Throat Department at Sheba Medical Center in Tel Aviv. On April 27, she became the first Israeli medical worker to fall victim to the coronavirus pandemic, just two weeks after the virus claimed the life of her sister. 

Levy was 66 and had served as a nurse for nearly 45 years. She served in the medical corps during her mandatory military service and began her nursing career at Sheba in 1974. Over the years, she worked in a variety of departments before taking over as head nurse in Ear, Nose and Throat in 1995.

Levy was eligible for retirement at 62, but she continued to report to work, even as the impact of the pandemic became clear. “She wanted to work until 67, until she couldn’t work anymore,” said Sima, a fellow nurse at Sheba who had known Levy for 25 years and took vacations with her.

Joel Kupperman, template for the smart Jewish kid, dies at 83

(JTA) – Joel Kupperman, the adorable child star who helped burnish the stereotype of the brainy Jew as a panelist on the 1940s show “Quiz Kids,” died on April 8. The death certificate describes an “influenza-like illness (probably Covid-19)” as the cause of death.

“A fairly cute kid who can do math quite well has never been such a big deal at any other time in American history,” Kupperman’s son Michael once wrote of his father. “It could only have happened with a Jewish child, during a war that many people saw as a fight to save Jews.”

Kupperman was one of the original “Quiz Kids,” which aired on NBC radio and then TV in the 1940s and 1950s. The show, which featured a group of mostly Jewish kids fielding questions about a range of subjects, offered American audiences a Jewish stereotype that inspired affection rather than revulsion.

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