Ben Brafman, the tough-as-nails criminal defense attorney, addressed a public love letter ot his brother, Rabbi Aaron Brafman zt”l, during a tribute dinner at the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway/Yeshiva Derech Ayson on motzei Shabbos. More than 1,000 people attended.
Brafman, a resident of Lawrence, was presented with the first Rabbi Aaron Brafman Memorial Tribute award, six months after the loss of Rabbi Brafman, a builder of the yeshiva and its longtime menahel.
“You were my inspiration, Aaron,” Brafman said. “You taught me the importance of advocacy, the importance of speaking for Klal Yisroel and eretz Yisroel.”
Brafman, whose law clients have included such scandal magnets as filmmaker Harvey Weinstein, Mafia boss Salvatore “Sammy the Bull” Gravano, Michael Jackson and Sean “Puff Daddy” Combs, said that his notoriety on the pages of the New York Times and New York Post was unimportant compared to what he cherished most — “my claim to fame in our world of chinuch and tzedaka and being a mench — and being your brother.”
“For my professional advocacy, Aaron, I received many awards, public recognition and approval — but winning your approval was most important to me,” Brafman said. “And when in the course of my professional profile I managed once in a while to create a measure of a kiddush Hashem, you, Aaron were the happiest, because you had the vision and the knowledge and the understanding of what it really means. … You lived your entire life as one continuous kiddush Hashem. I had to pick my spots.”
“I wanted to make you proud [so you could] point to me with pride when you told people that I was your brother the way I beam with pride when I tell people that Aaron Brafman was my brother,” he said.
Brafman was introduced by his son, Rabbi Dovid Brafman, who founded the Bais Torah U’tefilah shul, and more recently a cheider that will be named for his grandfather, in Ramat Eshkol.
Dovid spoke of his father’s unbound generosity “with time, money and advice.” He recalled his father wondering why everyone was not like that, exclaiming, “They’re building Torah, how can people not get involved.”
For his father, nothing trumped “family, klal Yisroel, and Torah,” Dovid said.
Ben Brafman concluded his remarks by speaking of his brother’s wife, Susie, and his own, wife, Lynda, “two very special ladies whose words and vorts and voices did not grace this program but whose devotion to the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway needs to be noted.”
Rabbi Avrohom Boruch Brafman, one of Rabbi Aaron Brafman’s children, said that the legacy of his father would be the fact that “at the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway we build talmidim who will be leaders of the next generation.”
One of Rabbi Aaron Brafman’s grandchildren, Avraham Braum, said it took a while for him to adjust to the fact that to his fellow talmidim at the Yeshiva of Far Rockaway, his zaidy wasn’t his alone. The school’s menahel was everyone’s zaidy, he said.