June 16, 2024
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A Tribute to My Father, Morris Zimmerman, z”l: A Community Builder

My parents, Morris and Elaine Zimmerman, zichronam l’vracha, worked as a cohesive team for 64½ blessed years until my mother’s petira in 2013. They were involved together in making Teaneck into the vibrant, Orthodox community it is today. Their efforts and financial support spread far beyond Teaneck as well, which I would like to share with you as we approach my father’s shloshim.

My parents moved to Teaneck in 1959, when my mother was pregnant with me. My brother Stanley was nine years my senior and from 1968 was already out of the house, attending YU, Albert Einstein Medical School, and marrying in 1974. What I remember from the 1960s and early 1970s was my parents’ incredible dedication to the establishment of The Moriah School. Together with Dr. Lenny, z”l, and tibadel l’chaim Dr. Debbie Indyk, among my parents’ closest friends, Moriah became another sibling to me and the Indyk children. As a sibling, Moriah was a very demanding little sister, needing a great deal of attention. The founders of Moriah actually came from Englewood and started the school in 1964. In 1965, after sending my brother to Yavneh, my parents decided to take a chance and sent me to the new fledgling school, Moriah. They soon became active in the school, and not in a partial way. My father became the school treasurer, serving for nine years. My mother became involved in the PTA, then called the MAP, eventually serving as president and actively launching its life membership program and chairing the luncheons for its donors. My father’s responsibility as treasurer included making phone calls, and sometimes house calls, to remind parents to pay their tuition bills, then $550, and other monetary commitments necessary to keep the school running. So much had to be done such as purchasing a permanent property for the school, obtaining zoning variances, neither of which were simple activities. As my father recently commented, “We were a bunch of young people who had absolutely no idea how to build a school from scratch, and yet we pulled it together and got it done.” As the Indyk children, Ruth, Benjamin and Ahrona, noted, “The demanding child grew up and the fruits of all that labor—nights, weekends, endless board meetings, Englewood Town Hall meetings, rummage sales, dinners and many more—are now apparent.” During shiva we received calls referring to my parents as “Mr. and Mrs. Moriah” or “The Moriah Couple.” The Moriah School sent out a notice to the school community announcing my father’s petira, referring to him as a “Moriah Legend.”

On the last night of shiva, we received a call from Sharon Kopitnikoff Greenbaum, whose mother Lillian, z”l, and our mother were dear friends. She reminded us that it was in the Kopitnikoff home, around the time that my parents moved to Teaneck, that the first Orthodox shul Bnai Yeshurun was founded. An Orthodox shul, combined with an Orthodox day school, made for a foundation upon which a community could grow and grow and flourish into a Teaneck. Sitting on Zoom with my brother Stanley in Edison, Sharon Greenbaum in Teaneck, we looked back with much satisfaction and pride at what our quiet, modest, friendly and warm parents were able to accomplish.

Over the years my parents have donated to YU, dedicated a classroom in RPRY in Edison, made significant donations to JNF, Boys Town Jerusalem, Kerem B’Yavneh, the General Israel Orphans Home, NACOEJ supporting Ethiopian Jews, and many more organizations. My mother followed in the footsteps of her mother in supporting American Mizrachi Women/AMIT. Among my father’s recent projects was donating a classroom at the AMIT High School in Ramle to the memory of my grandparents. My father supported UJA, UJC and Israel Bonds. My parents donated the original beit midrash at Congregation Beth Aaron before it was renovated. Our family’s Phelps Road minyan was the forerunner of the Young Israel of Teaneck to which my parents proudly dedicated a sefer Torah over 20 years ago.

Our beloved father, Morris Zimmerman, z”l, was niftar peacefully in his sleep at CareOne on January 30, Motzei Shabbat, Parshat Beshalach, my bar mitzvah parsha, and going into the week of Parshat Yitro, my brother Stanley’s bar mitzvah parsha. Shortly before he passed away, our father was fully alert, oriented and his highly intelligent self, until his last day, at the age of 95.

May he be a good advocate for us all! Yehi zichro baruch!


Sammy Zimmerman and family live in Nof Ayalon. Professionally, Sammy is a social worker. His wife, Dr. Deena Zimmerman, a pediatrician and one of the first yoatzot halacha, serves as the director of the Mother-Child Department of the Public Health Service of the Israel Ministry of Health. They are the parents of five children ranging in age from 33 to 19, two of whom are married. They are the joyous grandparents of one grandson.

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