Josh Heit's blog


Saturday, October 04, 2003

R.I.P.: People who read this blog know I don’t usually write about personal things. But today’s an exception. My rabbi, Eugene Markovitz, passed away last week at the age of 82. Always a good man, you knew that he loved his congregation. Even as he was aging, and many people knew that he would have to retire soon, he was still well-liked in the community. And his sermons, though sometimes arduous, were always inspiring by the end.

Markovitz served Clifton, New Jersey for over 50 years as rabbi of the Clifton Jewish Center. And while he’s known for the little things in the community, he’s known nationwide for his actions in 1990. That’s when Markovitz forgave four Clifton boys who had vandalized his home, a neighbor’s home, and the synagogue. Although the judge wanted to send them to juvenile court, their sentence instead was to have 25 hours of classes on Jewish culture. As Markovitz said in the Time article recounting the events (which I went to the library and printed, it’s sitting in front of me now; the link will take you to the abstract), “One must never give up on young people. In Judaism, it’s literally a crime to do so.” This incident is where Markovitz’s forgiving nature shone through. The nationwide story eventually became the subject of a 1994 CBS Schoolbreak Special, ”The Writing on the Wall”, starring Hal Linden as the rabbi.

Rest in peace, Rabbi Markovitz. May your forgiving nature guide you in the next life.


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