Wednesday, May 25, 2022

On January 19, longtime Stamford resident Bennet Kfare, 65, died in the hospital surrounded by his loving wife, Sherry, and his four children, Daniel, Jessica, Kimmie and Zach. But it wasn’t just his family who were shedding tears. The doctors, his friends, and even acquaintances are all feeling the loss deeply.

“Grandpa Bennet,” as he was called by many for the last several years, was a retired mechanical engineer. In 2019 he took on the role of driving members of the greater Stamford community to wherever they needed to go. He drove his young grandchildren and their friends to school and to various activities. Hence he became Grandpa Bennet to all, the quintessential grandfather who is always ready to perform a kindness with a smile, put a Band-Aid on a skinned knee or tell a corny “Dad joke.”

For the past 35 years Bennet was also known as the Young Israel of Stamford’s Kiddush Man. Not for drinking l’chaims—that wasn’t his thing—but for the food shopping, preparation and setting up the shul Kiddush every week. Over the years there were many regulars who helped him, including his wife, Sherry, as well as Arnie Weiss, Hillel Disraelly, Shani Cohen, Valerie Warmflash and others. But it was Bennet’s name that was synonymous with Kiddush at the Orthodox synagogue on Oaklawn Avenue.

It was also Bennet who brought the cup of wine to Young Israel spiritual leader Rabbi Eli Kohl at the end of services each Shabbat to recite the Kiddush at the bima. It was Bennet who was the last to leave shul, not locking up until the floors were swept and the garbage taken out. Most people of his high intellect would think it beneath them to perform such tasks. However, that never crossed his mind. He simply did what needed to be done … without expecting anyone to thank him or acknowledge his good deeds.

Bennet was also instrumental in the formation of the Stamford community eruv, the halachic enclosure surrounding Young Israel, Agudath Sholom Synagogue and Chabad, which enables those who walk to shul on Shabbat to carry their belongings or push strollers, activities which would be forbidden if the eruv were not constructed. Additionally, he was part of the weekly eruv committee, which checked the physical eruv every Friday to ensure that the wires had not blown down in a storm and that the Eruv was still kosher. That was another job he took on for the past 35 years, quietly, without fanfare, as was his way.

With this kind of humility, faith and dedication it shouldn’t be a surprise that the entire Kfare family is as beloved as Bennet was. Sherry is an adored teacher’s assistant at Bi-Cultural Hebrew Academy. Daughters Jessica Niedober (married to Elie) and Kimmie Warmflash (married to David) also live in Stamford and have been leaders of various Stamford Jewish youth groups. Jessica and Elie have four children and live locally, as do Kimmie and David, who have three children. Sons Daniel (married to Renat) and Zach (married to Naama) live in Israel. Daniel and Renat have three children; and Zach and Naama have two children. All four Kfare children and 12 grandchildren have continued to lead Orthodox Jewish lives and are active in their respective communities.

On January 20, despite the very short and sudden notice, morning snowfall and the seemingly ever-present risk of COVID concerns, about 200 masked people attended the funeral at the Young Israel of Stamford. Many more tuned in via Zoom, all tearful and touched by the beautiful, heart-wrenching eulogies delivered by Sherry, Rabbi Kohl and Bennet and Sherry’s four children. As one funeral attendee put it, “I never knew anyone who had a negative word to say about Bennet. Everybody loved him, truly.”

On a personal note, my husband Seth and I were lucky enough to call Bennet our good friend for the past 36 years. We met Bennet and Sherry early on at the Young Israel of Stamford and were a happy foursome, celebrating each other’s simchas, mourning each other’s losses and just enjoying our lives together. We babysat each other’s children. Seth was Kimmie and Jessica’s basketball coach at Westchester Hebrew High School and Bennet, an avid sports fan, was their biggest cheerleader as he was always supportive in all of his children’s endeavors.

I’m so happy we all went to a comedy show in early December and then had Chanukah brunch at my house a couple of weeks later. I will treasure that memory of Bennet sitting on my couch telling us the story of how he accidentally bumped into a man in a restaurant and said “Excuse me, I’m sorry,” only to realize that the man he walked into was a mirrored wall and he was apologizing to himself! We laughed and laughed, as we always did when we were together—and that’s how we’ll remember him.

May his memory be a blessing.

By Lisa Linzer


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