David Kaufmann OBM - A Loss for New Orleans

Thursday, 2 March, 2017 - 8:08 pm

It is with a heavy heart and profound sadness that I share the news of the passing of community leader, my fellow (senior) Shliach, family friend and longtime neighbor, Dr. David Kaufmann.

Dr. Kaufmann was one of the first (if not the first) people to get involved with Chabad in 1975 when my parents arrived in New Orleans. While pursuing graduate studies at UNO and later Tulane, he also pursued his other passion, Jewish learning. David was a regular at our home and entertained us kids with songs and stories. He always had a pipe and a chess board handy. After marrying Nechama and starting their family; and completing his PHD in English at Tulane, David and Nechama joined the staff of Chabad as Shluchim to New Orleans. For years they directed Camp Gan Israel and then also became the directors of Chabad’s activities on Tulane’s campus. David also spearheaded the highly popular Chanukah @ Riverwalk program and continued to coordinate it until recent years.

His true love was learning, especially Chassidus and the teachings of the Rebbe, which he shared at every opportunity. David had a profound influence on many people as a Shliach, teaching and inspiring in his unique manner, and also as a professor of English and Jewish studies at Tulane. For years he led a Tanya study group with a diverse group in attendance. His classes on the Rebbe’s “sichos” (talks) were much anticipated. I will take the liberty of sharing that he developed a deep friendship with Mr. Bill Norman and they continued their weekly study sessions all through David’s illness until very recently, and even then David was talking about resuming as soon as he reclaimed his strength.

He was influential in the growth of Torah Academy serving in many capacities over the years, not the least of which was Chess Club instructor, once leading the club all the way through the tournaments, nearly to the top of the city rankings. David was an author of many books spanning several genres. He was also a translator and an editor. He was a pioneer in using the internet and email for Jewish outreach, through which he developed a relationship with the legendary online Jewish figure, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak Kazen. For years, Dr. Kaufmann authored the lead section in the weekly L’chaim Newsletter published by Lubavitch Youth in New York.

All of the above aside, most central to David’s life was being a Chosid and Shliach of the Rebbe, and of course, his family. He deeply regarded the Mitzvah of honoring parents. His pride and joy were his wife, children and grandchildren.

This past summer, Dr. Kaufmann stood before us at Project Talmud, and bravely spoke about Faith in Times of Crisis. It was – at times – an emotional presentation that strongly impacted the listeners. We all had hoped that it would be strictly a rear-view mirror perspective. Alas, it was not meant to be and this morning our community suffered the loss of one of our best.

The funeral will be held tomorrow (Friday) at 10 AM in Houston at the Beth Jacob Cemetery, 2300 Almeda-Genoa Road. Shiva will follow in Houston through next Thursday morning.

Our hearts are broken for the loss but even more so for Nechama and their children, Saadya (Chaya Sarah), Rachel (Mendy) Traxler, Shmuel (Rivky), Chaya (Berry) Silver, Yosef (Chana), Chana (Yaakov) Hellinger, and Devorah Leah. May Hashem comfort you among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim and may we very soon experience the Geulah, the time when “death will cease forever and Hashem will wipe the tears off every face.”

We wish to extend condolences to Toni Weiss and Gary Remer upon passing of her father, Kurt Strauss. I remember him coming to Chabad on occasion with Toni to say Kaddish after his wife's passing and he always seemed like a person who made the most of life. He passed at the age of 95. May his memory be for a blessing to the whole family.

Shabbat Shalom
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

Comments on: David Kaufmann OBM - A Loss for New Orleans

Rene Lehmann wrote...

I knew David from the time he was a boy and have followed his career with great interest. I was aware of his lengthy illness and extend me condolences to his family and his many friends.
Rene Lehmann

Bernie Hirsch wrote...

My brother and I knew David as we both played in the New Orleans Chess Club (NOCC). I davened with him at Chabad on Freret Street every time I came to New Orleans. My thoughts and condolensces go out to David's family, and to his brother, my friend Stephen Kauffman. May Hashem comfort you among the mourners of Tzion and Yerushalayim.

Ann wrote...

Fire in his Eyes
Sincere sympathy and heartfelt condolences to his wife, his valiant comrade/caregiver in the struggles, and all his extended family.
I've known David peripherally since high school and we became closer in recent decade.
I think excerpts from the last essay in his inspiring series that I received from him 12/12/16 is a good view of his determination.

"But moving forward—and G-d Willing we all move forward, don't we?—I must sustain and maintain the fire in my eyes. It's not only the fuel with which we see the world, it's also the engine by which we navigate it.
We are all microcosms of the macrocosms, reflections of the structure of the universe and each of is a spiritual protagonist in a unique moral-spiritual drama in which we reveal and define our specific purpose.
We create meaning—isn't that what the protagonist, the hero, of the story does? Yet we can only do that if we have ’a fire in our eyes’—the strength and will and determination to pull meaning from the Opposition—antagonist, yetzer hara (evil inclination), illness. What have you...
to confront all this and follow the Divine Imperative, tzedek, tzedek, tirdof—Justice, Justice, you shall pursue — we need to have a fire in our eyes.
It's a paradox, but love itself requires a fire in your eyes." DYBK