Log in

No account? Create an account

Previous Entry | Next Entry

Jeff Erlanger's Funeral

We just got home from Jeff Erlanger's funeral. It was huge and beautiful. Jeff Erlanger was an amazing guy in our town, here's his obit, the memorial in this week's Isthmus, and a memorial in the Capital Times. Jeff had an amazing spirit and touched way more people in 36 years than anyone else I know. As a result our synagogue was packed. They opened the wall into the social hall, like for High Holidays, and then put chairs all the way to the back. Jeff's funeral had attendance comparable to Kol Nidre. Amazing.

And it just got better from there. The eulogies were great. Everybody made us laugh and then cry. And thanks to Jeff's personality and his many years at OSRUI (Olin-Sang-Ruby Institute, a big Jewish camp), Debbie Friedman sang most of the service. That was a final blessing from Jeff. Wow. I've never heard her in person before. She blew me away. Drew said afterwards that it's going to be a really long time before he can ham up Gesher Tzar Me'od again, because she had us singing through tears. She also chanted the El Malei Rachamim in her best High Holiday cantorial style -- wow. It made me want to be in her congregation for Yom Kippur; she just grabbed you by the gut and pulled; you knew there was some serious praying going on.

Jeff's presence will be missed in Madison and in our congregation. But I think we showed him out in style.



( 2 comments — Leave a comment )
Jun. 14th, 2007 05:01 pm (UTC)
Jeff's dad, Howie Erlanger, was a colleague of my father's in the poli-sci department, so I grew up with Jeff. He was the only kid at Beth El in a wheelchair, and was kind of infamous for having been on Mr. Rogers. :D As an adult, I've heard pieces here and there of what he's been up to - mostly his run for alder and his activism.

My parents told me about his choking incident the weekend I visited Madison, and that the prognosis did not look good. I was really saddened to hear of it, and of his death last weekend. :(
Jun. 14th, 2007 07:55 pm (UTC)
Oddly enough, I sat next to your parents this morning.(Odd because I hadn't met them before and because the Temple staff were about to put chairs in the Community Court for overflow). This couple sat down and started talking to a guy behind us about their house closing and moving to the Twin Cities and both their daughters were there... so I introduced myself.

It was one heck of a funeral.
( 2 comments — Leave a comment )