Wednesday, August 6, 2008

Irving Ladimer praised for activism

by Eric Grossfeld
08/07/2008, Riverdale Review

A man who has devoted his life to serving his community was shown some real appreciation from that community last Sunday afternoon.

Irving Ladimer, 92, received much-deserved community praise during the Conservative Synagogue Adath Israel of Riverdale's Mighty Men's Club Brunch – held especially to recognize his commitment to Riverdale for more than a half century.

Ladimer has called CSAIR his home and its congregation his family for over twenty years. During the past two decades, he played an important role in establishing the men's club, of which he only recently retired as president, and organizing the development of the regional offshoot of the nationwide Federation of Jewish Men's Clubs. CSAIR has the only men's club from a Bronx synagogue to be affiliated with the Hudson Valley branch of the FJMC.

During his tenure on the club's board, Ladimer helped to organize the distribution of Shoah candles, memorials of the Holocaust, and to develop the educational Worldwide Wrap program, which "teaches children alongside their parents about tefillin [phylacteries]."

Although he is "retired" from his leadership position on the men's club, Ladimer promised that his efforts would continue. "I passed on the baton last year to very competent leaders, David La Due and Joel Chaiken," he said. "However, I'll help with everything. People always want me around," he added.

Ladimer has earned a reputation as "the Mr. Fix-It of Riverdale," the man who always extends aid to the greater Riverdale community. Since arriving here over fifty years ago, Ladimer has been involved in efforts to serve the elderly population. He also helped found the first community boards in Riverdale, in order to bring "knowledge and representation to the local level." He considered Riverdale a "small town in a big city" that needed "public services such as police, fire, education and health care centered around the community."

To date, Ladimer has provided invaluable services to the major community health care institutions, including Atria, the Hebrew Home for the Aged and Schervier. His efforts range from hand-delivering meals-on-wheels to aiding in research. Commenting on his frequent visits to nursing homes, he jokingly remarked that people "were surprised to see me actually entering Schervier horizontally, on a stretcher, after my accident."

Last May, Ladimer suffered an accident and broke both his hip and shoulder. Despite having to learn "how to sit, stand up and walk all over again," he was determined to recover, eager to "keep moving forward, helping my community."

After moving out of his native New York to study in Washington, D.C., Ladimer earned his law degree at George Washington University Law School and settled in Washington, where he held positions at the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Social Security Bureau. He remarked dryly, "Working for the federal government was not my favorite experience."

During his years away from New York, he earned his doctorate in law, specializing in the legal ethics of practicing medicine. He then taught ethics courses at New York University, Harvard University and Boston University, which granted him the Pike Award in recognition of his legacy.

Indeed, Ladimer's legacy of combining legal and medical knowledge continued in Riverdale. His proudest and most notable contribution was the health fair at his synagogue, a project he spearheaded. Using his host of medical contacts (Mr. Ladimer had also worked for Mt. Sinai Hospital and Bronx North Central Hospital), he planned the community-wide event that provided valuable outreach to thousands of local citizens. "The event was more about the community than it was about the synagogue," he recalled. "We had companies providing health services and booths set up to distribute educational materials. It was one hundred percent a great success."

So what comes next for Ladimer? For starters, he's certainly not retiring. Shaking his head, he declared, "I don't know the meaning of that word, 'retire.''' He's already planning his men's club's latest efforts: "Today it's all about environmentalism. We're talking about synagogues going green." Or maybe it's finishing a lengthy draft on the ethics of conflict of interest, which he expects to finish late August.

One thing is certain: whatever Ladimer decides to do, the Riverdale community, "his" community, will greatly benefit.