Visiting Jewish patients at Northwell Hospital in Forest Hills for years, known as “The Rabbi” by residents at the Castle Senior Living assisted facility in Corona for his spiritual Shabbos and holiday services, blowing the shofar while on nasal oxygen for the homebound, Tom Hamori was remembered on his Shloshim at Congregation Havurat Yisrael on Sunday, April 7.

“We had a tzadik in our midst that we did not appreciate. We did not give him sufficient honor,” said Rabbi David Algaze of Congregation Havurat Yisrael, to the more than 50 people attending.

“He was really a man who never missed an opportunity to give.” Hamori ran the kiddushim at the synagogue “for several years, alone… He gave pillows for free to people who could not afford it.” Tom always had a long list of names of people who needed a r’fuah, because “it was so dear to him,” said Rabbi Algaze.

Tom’s longtime friend Marc Rose


Hamori often drove people to where they needed to go. “We have to say thank you to Hashem for giving us an opportunity to share part of our lives with such a man,” said Rabbi Algaze.

Tom’s fiancée, Stephanie Goldwasser, said, “No words can express how I feel. You’re an inspiration, a Jack of All Trades… I’m lost without you.”

Tom Hamori was born two weeks before the liberation of Budapest, Hungry, by the Soviet Union. His twin was stillborn. Hamori weighed less than the stillborn – only four pounds.

His father escaped a Nazi labor camp and his mother survived inside the Jewish ghetto in Budapest during World War II, according to Tom Hamori’s sister, Georgette Friedman. Hungarian Fascists took the mother’s parents, her two sisters, and her brother, never to be heard from again.

One day in 1959, Tom’s mother asked him to wear as many layers of clothing as he could. That night, the family escaped Hungry by crossing the border into Austria. The family spent a few years in a Displaced Persons camp in Austria. A lot of chasidim were there and it is where he had his bar mitzvah.

They moved to Cleveland for a few months, then Williamsburg, Brooklyn, before arriving in Rego Park in 1965, where he lived the rest of his life. “Whenever Tom needed some kind of social services or business help, he knew someone in Williamsburg,” said his friend of more than 20 years, Marc Rose.

On Fridays, Tom “would go to Williamsburg to collect challahs, kugels, and cakes to distribute to families here in Queens that he knew needed them or who were hosting many Shabbos guests.”

Tom attended Eastern District High School but dropped out. He was eager to make money, said Rose. “Tom was selling pencils as a teenager and he encountered the Satmar Rebbe and asked him to buy some pencils. The Rebbe realized that he needed money, bought some pencils, and told his chasidim to also buy some pencils. Tom made some nice money that day.”

Rose said, “The most important aspect of his character could be described as ‘Tom the Mitzvah Man.’ Tom loved to do a mitzvah and would stop at nothing to make sure you were included in the mitzvah, even if you tried to avoid it. Pre-Covid, he had a regular schedule of visits to various nursing homes, such as Castle Harbor, Margaret Tietz, and others… He would shlep me along. He would put t’filin on the men patients and give encouraging words to the women.”

During the war in Gaza in 2014, Tom Hamori felt Havurat Yisrael should say extra prayers. “So we started saying Psalm 130 after the regular prayers, a practice we continue today,” said Rose.

Tom welcomed people into the shul and his home for Shabbos meals. “He was a very soft-spoken guy, somebody trying to be welcoming and friendly. It was very beautiful,” said Michael Joseph, who went to Havurat Yisrael for decades before moving to Kew Gardens.

Rabbi Anshel Blum


Miriam Jacob, a congregant at Havurat Yisrael, said, “Not only did he visit people in the hospital, but he would try to get his friends to go with him, to encourage them to do the mitzvah.”

Tom was also an ardent Zionist who trained with the Jewish Defense League in upstate New York for several years.

He worked at the Jewish hotels in the Catskills as a valet for cars, a busboy, and a waiter. He then had his own business going into neighborhoods for many years selling goose-down pillows, blankets, and coats, thus earning the nickname “The Goose Man.”

Rabbi Anshel Blum of the Jewish Community Center of Queens said that Tom gave more than ten percent of his time helping others. “Causing someone else to do a good deed is even more than if you do it yourself. Believe me, he forced me to do good deeds.”

Tom collected and distributed food, invited people to his house for meals, recruited people to make a minyan so mourners could say Kaddish at home during Shiv’ah, “visited people who were shut-ins just to give them encouragement,” and drove people wherever they needed to go to do their mitzvos.

Tom will “now enjoy the principle of all of the chesed he did. He is now going to be paid in the next world,” said Rabbi Blum

Dr. Robert Kaner was Tom’s pulmonologist for 14 years. Tom had Pulmonary Fibrosis, a degenerative lung disease. “His primary concern was not how the disease was affecting him personally, but how it was affecting his ability to go to the nursing home and lead services. “Would he have enough breath to sing during the services, will he be able to suppress his cough long enough to lead the services?”

Rabbi David Algaze


“He far outlived his life expectancy and I think a lot of that was due to his determination to be able to continue to help others.”

Tom Hamori has two older sisters, Georgette Friedman and Magda Berger, and a younger brother, Michael. Georgette said that Tom Hamori’s biggest interest “was helping people and spreading his Judaism… He was a very, very good person.”

His sister Magda said, “He just wanted to help.”

Tom is survived by his two sisters, his brother, and a daughter, Michelle, in Arizona, from a previous marriage.

 By David Schneier