This past Wednesday, December 28, on behalf of Queens Borough Safety Patrol – Shmira, I alongside my uncle Naftoli Saphirstein attended the levayah of Dr. Majer Rosenfeld, R’ Meir ben R’ Moshe Yehuda z”l, 82, a longtime fixture of the Jewish community in Kew Gardens Hills. Dr. Majer, born in Germany, was a courteous and modest servant of Hashem who always exhibited the most profound midos tovos, with a special appreciation for t’filah. Dr. Majer was a noted member of both the Young Israel of Kew Gardens Hills (YIKGH) and Beis Medrash Congregation Chasam Sofer (Rabbi Weisel’s Shul), where he left lasting impressions. Approximately fifty participants (plus sixty on Zoom) converged in Jamaica at the El-Al Cargo Building at JFK Airport to give Dr. Majer an honorable and humble sendoff in a hastily-arranged transport to Eretz Yisrael, completing a promise to visit the Holy Land this Chanukah.
Rabbi Daniel Rosenfelt, mara d’asra of YIKGH, worked in tandem with Reb Moishe Deutsch of Chasam Sofer, as the ahron was escorted into the loading area. T’hilim was recited by a grandson who attends YCQ, and words were said of his self-effacement. Reb Moishe spoke of Dr. Majer’s strict adherence to t’filah, and his unique attention to the recitation of V’yiten Lecha every Motzaei Shabbos, not leaving until he completed the lengthy prayer. In Dr. Majer’s z’chus, we should consider taking upon including this t’filah in our weekly rituals.
Following the levayah, I met up with close friend and neighbor Yanki Borenstein, assisted by the Tenenbaum family, who helped arrange the Rosenfeld home for shiv’ah. On behalf of Misaskim of Queens, myself and Elhanan Aronov, a new dedicated member, rearranged furniture and set up chairs to aid in perpetuating the memory of Dr. Majer.
To his 136th Street family, Dr. Majer, his beloved wife Judith, and their children have always been a welcome fixture. The close-knit neighbors, including the Bidermans, Bliskos, Bochners, Borensteins, Feldsteins, Sterns, and many others, pride themselves on sharing in acts of kindness amongst one another.
Of the many organizations that Dr. Majer held in high esteem, it was his devotion to Tomchei Shabbos of Queens that shined the most. Mr. Yitzchok Katz, the on-site director, explained to his grandson Yechiel Kupferstein: “Reb Meir was not in a rush like the doctors of today. He took his time with each patient and built a friendship so much so that if a patient entered his office without an insurance policy, they were not turned away, rather seen gratis, never wanting anyone to harbor a distaste.” Mr. Katz’ wife, Mrs. Gitle (Bekelnitzky) Katz, added, “Reb Meir was a caring doctor with sense of humor, but more importantly he was a loving father. However, his compassion shined when a charity collector would stretch out their hand. Dr. Majer always found a way to give, even when his pockets were empty.” In Reb Meir’s merit, the community is encouraged to dedicate some time every other Wednesday evening to deliver Tomchei Shabbos Queens packages to the less fortunate in our midst. Drivers are desperately needed.
While I do not know Dr. Majer’s political associations, I can attest that he and his eises chayil attended the Bukharian Jewish Link’s meet-and-greet with then gubernatorial candidate Lee Zeldin at Beth Gavriel in Forest Hills, standing front and center for the group photo.
Dr. Majer had a special appreciation for the borei olam, taking in the raw nature of Hashem’s world. He would often visit local parks for a stroll, especially Fresh Meadows’ Cunningham Park, as he did on erev Shabbos parshas Vayislach, December 9, when he was the victim of a vicious accident, being struck by a BMW SUV near 73rd Avenue and Francis Lewis Boulevard, where he had parked. Dr. Majer put up a valiant fight, ultimately succumbing to cranial injuries at New York-Presbyterian Hospital Queens, a medical facility where he was well known. NYPD Highway Patrol investigated the crash but opted to file no charges against the 52-year-old driver. As “Chaim” was added on to Dr. Majer’s name, T’hilim groups persisted with nonstop operation certainly giving Reb Meir extra merit. There was even a challah bake planned by YIKGH for the day following the p’tirah.
Professionally, Dr. Majer was an acclaimed, down-to-earth, no-nonsense urologist who dutifully served the Forest Hills (Absolute Professional Urology) and Briarwood (Complete Medical Multispecialty Clinic) communities, amongst various hospitals in Greater New York City where he was affiliated: Long Island Jewish Forest Hills, Jamaica Hospital Medical Center, New York Hospital Queens, and New York-Presbyterian Hospital/Weill Cornell Medical Center. Known to go the extra mile for his staff and patients, Dr. Majer never retired and ran his practices like any old-school friendly doctor with signature accommodations, namely barely ever having any wait time and performing a thorough examination including all screening tests. These policies gave the good doctor a reputation of a great bedside manner and unlimited patience. It was common to hear how Dr. Majer made each patient feel comfortable and respected by investing time to listen intently to his patients’ concerns in a welcoming atmosphere and taking time to explain every medical nuisance, highlighting his medical brilliance. Much credit goes to his beloved wife Judith, who regularly worked at the office, reassuring and easing patient worries.
Proficient in English, French, Spanish, German, Hebrew, Russian, Polish, and Yiddish, Dr. Majer held board certifications from American Board of Urology and received his medical school education and was highly trained in Germany at Ludwig-Maximilians-Universität München Medizinische Fakultät, graduating in 1967. He later spent time at Bronx Lebanon Hospital Center, Yeshiva University’s Albert Einstein College of Medicine, and Brooklyn Jewish Hospital, where he obtained his urology residency and became qualified to diagnose and treat disorders and diseases of the male and female urinary track systems and the male reproductive organ. He also discovered holistic approaches and prevention to issues and picked up on how to begin conservative treatment, only taking a more aggressive approach when necessary. These tactics came in handy over the years, helping patients avoid unnecessary prostate surgeries, and moreover boosting the confidence of his suffering patients as he discovered new treatment options together with his patients.
Burial took place at Eretz Hachaim Cemetery in Beit Shemesh. We join the community in this monumental loss. May his wife; children, Dr. Ruchi Kushner (West Hempstead), Ora Canter (Jamaica Estates), Tami Katz (Lawrence); and family in Ramat Bet Shemesh take solace in his legacy.
Yehi Zicho Baruch.
By Shabsie Saphirstein