A few years ago, when Alex Krause, z”l, discovered Parkeology, a group of Disney World fanatics who attempt to ride all the rides in every Disney World park in one day, he was hooked. He immediately texted his little brother and their two close friends to begin planning this adventure. Alex produced an elaborate spreadsheet that included the number of seconds needed for each ride, the estimated travel time between the various parks, how to leverage smart passes, and what it would take to build the stamina to successfully achieve this goal.
Alex, z”l, tragically passed away last week at the age of 43, and this story captures so much of who he was. Committed to family and friends, taking on creative challenges, and always looking to include others in his fun and elaborate adventures. He was a committed and passionate Jew. He and his beloved wife, Sarah, built a magnificent home in Hillside, NJ, with four incredible young sons whom they infused with so much love, Jewish values, practice and ideals.
Alex was a larger-than-life individual. His presence was large; his voice was booming; his laugh was large; his ideas were large; and his personality was large. As was his heart. Everything he did was undertaken with passion and enthusiasm.
He was an avid and ruthless board game and card player. Shabbat afternoons were spent in marathon games, playing Settlers of Catan, Monopoly, Risk and chess with family and friends. Games were his opportunity to connect and enjoy time with other people.
Always one for a party, food for Alex was a way of connecting as well. Whether it was large and welcoming barbeques, festive Shabbat and Yom Tov meals, or planning simchas, Alex loved to plan every single detail, and he loved the people who joined. And if you spent enough time with Alex, you would be bombarded with his big—and sometimes zany—ideas. Whether it was business ventures, book ideas, home renovation plans or vacation destinations, Alex loved including you in his big and creative thinking.
Alex was a true chevraman who loved enjoying time with his family or friends. He was a pillar of his community who gave his time and resources to numerous institutions. A few years ago, when a friend lost his entire home in a terrible fire, Alex opened up his closet door and invited his friend to take any clothes that he needed. He would literally give you the shirt off his back.
A neighbor of his, an attorney at a prominent law firm, often works late and doesn’t arrive home until well after midnight. A few years ago, the neighbor called Alex to tell him that for the past few nights when he got home late, he noticed that Alex’s deck lights were all on. The neighbor thought that perhaps Alex had forgotten to shut them off or that the timer wasn’t working properly. Alex replied that he knew, and that he purposely left them on. He had noticed that the neighbor was coming home very late and that it was very dark as he drove into his garage. Alex left his deck lights on to provide illumination for his neighbor.
A different friend recounted that he and his wife had been the honorees at one of the many annual dinners that Alex chaired and planned. The couple had been honored many times and knew the drill. Dinners are about fundraising, and everything else was secondary. But not for Alex. Five minutes into the dinner, the honoree received a text message from Alex: “Are you having a good time?” Five minutes later he received another: “How is the food? How are the flowers? Is this everything as you hoped for? This dinner is associated with you and for your honor. I want to make sure you consider it worthy and proper.” Always thoughtful, Alex would do anything to help or support a friend.
But Alex’s real love, and what gave him real purpose, was his family. He was a beloved son, sibling, spouse, father and cousin. As his first cousin, I have so many childhood memories of fun times with Alex. Whether it was holidays spent together, thousands of hours of games played together, dreaming about ludicrous and sometimes even comical business plans together, or just enjoying the walk to shul together, Alex added humor, thoughtfulness and love to any family gathering.
He shared his love of sports with his four boys. He loved playing and creating games for them, and during COVID lockdown, he created incredible races and activities to keep his family entertained.
To his wife, children, siblings, parents and relatives, Alex could always be trusted with wise advice, thoughtfulness and intuition. Both of his younger siblings pointed out how, as their big brother, Alex would always look out for them. When they were children, he would include his siblings whenever he was doing something with his friends. In college, he recommended which classes to take and he challenged them to try new things. He was helpful and resourceful—and always looking to share those abilities with others.
His sister, Alyson, told one particularly powerful story at his funeral. As Alyson and her husband struggled with infertility, Alex and his wife, Sarah, joined together with their parents to purchase the aliyah of Kol Hanearim over Simchas Torah for her husband. Alex told the couple that there was a tradition in his shul that whoever received that aliyah would be blessed by God with a child within a year. Sure enough, within a year Alyson and her husband were blessed with a child. It was an example of Alex’s total commitment to his family and his unwavering belief in Hashem and his miracles.
The Midrash tells us that Moshe Rebbeinu turned the Jewish people into a monument. How does one turn a people into a monument, and what does that mean? The commentators explain that a monument isn’t just a block of stone. The purpose of a monument is to perpetuate the memory and legacy of a person and serve as an everlasting reminder of their ideals.
When our rabbis tell us that Moshe turned the Jewish people into a monument, it means that Moshe successfully transmitted his values and ideals to them. When the Jewish people continue living that legacy, they become the greatest testimony and declaration about who Moshe was and the principles that he lived for. We become the living monument of another person when we perpetuate their legacy.
There are two ways to honor Alex’s memory. An educational fund account was established for the boys at My529.org and gifts to that Fund can be made with the following link: https://gift.my529.org/XUW9VZ .
Additionally, the Alexander M. Krause Fund has been established at the Jewish Educational Center where the boys go to school and where Alex served on the Board of Trustees. The JEC Fund will support the Alex Krause STEM Lab and other educational activities. Contributions to the Fund at JEC can be made using the following link: www.thejec.org/AlexKrause.
Rabbi Philip Moskowitz is associate rabbi of the Boca Raton Synagogue.