More than 400 people attended a memorial in tribute to Efraim Gordon on Wednesday.
Gordon was a 31-year-old Israeli who was visiting Baltimore for a wedding last month when he was killed in Park Heights.
The Shloshim Memorial, held at Suburban Orthodox Congregation Toras Chaim, took place 30 days after his death. The shloshim is a traditional 30-day, secondary period of mourning in Judaism.
At the memorial, different rabbis from across the community spoke about who Gordon was. Suburban Orthodox Rabbi Shmuel Silber introduced the guest speakers, who included Rabbi Moshe Heinemann of Agudath Israel of Baltimore; Rabbi Yaakov Hopfer, chairman of the Rabbinical Council of Greater Baltimore; Rabbi Shmuel Kaplan, Director of Chabad Lubavitch of the Maryland Region; Rabbi Elchonon Lisbon of Beis Lubavitch Baltimore; and Rabbi Dovid Reyder, cousin of Efraim Gordon and co-director of the Chabads in Catonsville and at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County.
In his remarks, Lisbon spoke of meeting Gordon.
“Efraim so much enjoyed his family and new friends,” Lisbon said. “There are memories of joy. May this bring comfort to his family. “
Reyder gave an emotional speech, in which he said that Gordon “only saw the positive in everyone.”
“He will always be our teacher and an example of what it means to be kind and understanding,” Reyder said.
The Shloshim Memorial was also a chance for members of the community to learn more about safety and security. Representatives from different volunteer organizations were tabling there to share information.
Frank Storch, founder and director of The Chesed Fund and Project Ezra of Greater Baltimore, was one of the people tabling. He had information about safety and about The Chesed Fund, which hosts a crowdfunding page for Gordon.
“The community united to come together and to say Psalms, to hear from our rabbinical leadership and to work on ourselves, to improve us through all the areas that are needed, in addition to implant[ing] more safety and security initiatives,” Storch said. “Del. Dalya Attar, Councilman Yitzy Schleifer and many other elected officials, including the Mayor’s Office, have been extremely helpful during this tragedy, and after this tragedy, in all areas of safety and security.”
Michael Diamond, a fifth-generation Baltimorean and president of Shomrim, was there tabling for Shomrim, an all-volunteer community watch group.
“The community is very upset about this senseless murder,” Diamond said. “It hit home. Since that incident, there is fear and unrest in the community. It’s been 30 days. Tonight it’s meaningful because it’s part of the healing process.”
After the memorial via phone, Reyder said that the presence of so many people, and of the leading rabbis in the community, brought a lot of comfort to the family.
A Torah scroll is being written to honor Gordon, Reyder said.
“The writing of the Torah scroll is an everlasting honor for Efraim,” he said. “It will be read by so many people, forever.”
The Torah scroll will take a full year to write, Reyder said. It will be written in Israel, then brought back to Baltimore for the yahrzeit of Gordon’s death.
“It will bring us mixed feelings as it is a sad and tragic time that we will never forget, but we will rejoice [for] the completion of the Torah,” Reyder said.
Sara Marshall, Gordon’s cousin and Reyder’s sister, noted to the JT that the memorial brought the Baltimore Jewish community together across synagogues and neighborhoods.
“They came together to support our family, and to remember Efraim,” she said. “This is exactly who Efraim was, a man loved by all, secular and religious. He had a way of making everyone feel valued.
“Efraim had a heart of gold,” she continued. “He was generous and humble. He was such a special person. This tragedy and the pain will take a long time to heal. Knowing we’re not alone makes a big difference. His legacy will carry on through those that emulate him.”