Join an Evening of Inspiration this Monday at CBY.
There are those who command a good deal of attention when they enter a room. In some cases, their voices speak above others; some walk to the front of the room, immediately assuming that by walking through the crowd they will be seen, while others make charitable donations in ways that they know others will recognize.
None of the above could in any way describe the late Joey Appel, z”l. His choice would be to sit nowhere near the front of the room, and even more telling was his choice of the chesed to which he devoted his entire Teaneck lifetime. No one knew the mitzvah of chesed shel emet better than Joey.
Forty-five years ago, his beloved wife, Linda, who had already initiated the work of the chevra kadisha for women at Bnai Yeshurun, encouraged Joey to become involved in this mitzvah himself. Joey wasn’t so sure he was up for the task, reminding her that even applying Band-Aids to cut fingers made him feel faint. How could she possibly expect him to do such a thing?
She responded by saying, “How do you know if you don’t try?” Joey was wise enough to know that this woman, who had snatched his heart when she was just 17, knew what she was talking about. Once he began this mitzvah he began to see its mystical beauty and the importance of the halachot of the taharah and the entire process. His love of these mitzvot was transmitted to many other men who today emphatically state that it was because of Joey that they participate in this painstaking mitzvah. He taught them not only the halachot but the love of the halachot as well.
As the years passed, Joey became known as the go-to person for the chevra kadisha. Many times in the middle of the night there would be someone at the Appels’ doorstep needing to speak with Joey about their family member who had passed. Often on Shabbat, people would knock on their door and he would guide them into his home, with his serious demeanor and his soft voice ensuring comfort as he offered them tea and a kind word.
Joey, understanding the true mitzvot of the chevra kadisha, expected nothing in return for the tremendous chesed he performed. He saw himself as the little guy on the totem pole, who really, in the hearts and minds of many, was at the very top.
In 2016 Joey was diagnosed with a rare and rapidly growing form of cancer. His greatest concern at the time was his wife, his beloved Linda, who he had married 50 years earlier. Linda shared that when the doctor told Joey that he would have to halt his activities with the chevra while he was going through treatment, his reaction was the first and only time she saw him shed tears over his diagnosis. It was one week before Joey succumbed to his illness that he resumed his work at the chevra kadisha.
In order to perpetuate Joey’s neshama, the Appel family invites the community to the first Joseph Appel Memorial Lecture, to be held at Congregation Bnai Yeshurun on Monday evening, May 14, at 7:45 p.m. The speaker for the evening will be the well-known motivational lecturer Charlie Harary.
Join Linda and her family in honoring the memory of her husband—who spoke softly and carried a huge heart. Please consider joining as sponsor and paying tribute to the memory of our dear friend Joseph Appel, z”’. All money collected in sponsorship will go to the Joseph Appel, a”h Memorial Fund which will be used to fund educational and social programming at CBY.
By Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick
Rabbi Mordechai and Nina Glick are living in Bergenfield after many years of service to the Montreal Jewish community. Rabbi Glick was the rav of Congregation Ahavat Yisroel as well as a practicing clinical psychologist in private practice. He also taught at Champlain Regional College. The Glicks were frequent speakers at the OU marriage retreats. Nina coordinated all Yachad activities in Montreal and was a co/founder of Maison Shalom, a group home for young adults with special needs. They can be reached at [email protected]