A Tribute to Morris Lew

Thursday, 9 November, 2017 - 1:03 pm

This week our community suffered the loss of a beloved pillar with the passing of our dear friend Morris Lew.

When describing the kindness of individuals we often hear the phrase “he would give you the shirt off his back.” When discussing Morris Lew’s big heart, this cliché would not be an exaggeration. Morris has literally given the last of something he had to another many times throughout his lifetime.

Morris and Malka (may she live and be well) Lew were one of the first couples that my parents met in the mid-70s when they established Chabad in New Orleans. Over the years the Lews became like family and a foundational part of Chabad’s growth in our region. Morris supported the work of Chabad with his financial resources, business connections, time and even his body. In 1988, when Chabad celebrated its Bar Mitzvah year in New Orleans, Morris and Malka were the chairpersons for that event. When Torah Academy, the school that his grandchildren later attended, moved into the old Lakeshore facility on West Esplanade Ave, Morris was on his hands and knees laying the floor so that the school year could start.

Morris and Malka were among the privileged few in our community to have met the Rebbe in person. On one occasion Morris had the opportunity to discuss an important business concern with the Rebbe and the Rebbe gave him advice and assurance regarding his concerns.

After moving uptown in the eary-90s, Morris became a fixture at Chabad House each Shabbos and later at the daily minyan. Something that I noted is, that he was generally early to Shul to give himself some quiet time to prepare for prayer and study. Morris loved Chabad House and our community and he had a lot visible Nachas when things were going well. He always dispensed compliments when a program was well attended or if he enjoyed a particular speaker. He often found innovative ways to be helpful to the Shul and community in an unassuming manner. He and Malka sponsored the annual Shmini Atzaret Hakafos Kiddush, even hosting it in their Sukkah a few times. He was like the Zeidy of the Chabad uptown community and everyone loved him for it.

Morris was a loyal friend and loving family man with a heart as big as the sky. He was not afraid of hard work and it was not beneath him. He was happy to share tips gleaned from his 80 plus years of life experience. I will miss our quick chats following Minyan where he always referred to me as Mendele, followed by an exchange of good wishes.

His most common pithy saying was “Don’t take any wooden nickels.” This then is my goodbye message to my good friend Morris, Mordechai ben Getzel. As you stand before the heavenly court, tell them about all the good that you did, the blessings you got from the Rebbe and the impact you had on our community. “Don’t take any wooden nickels.”

May Hashem comfort Malka, Eli and Perry and the entire family and may the memory of Morris’s meaningful life give them strength to confront the loss until the coming of Moshiach very speedily.

We gather at Chabad House this Shabbos for a Kiddush marking the end of Shiva. The community is invited to join us in honoring our beloved friend.

Good Shabbos
Rabbi Mendel Rivkin

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