HANC’s ‘chesed shel emet’ on S.I.


An amazing and heartwarming postscript is emerging as an outcome of the HANC High School chesed day. 

On Sept. 29, HANC 9th and 10th grade boys set out to help maintain the Silver Lake Cemetery, which is under the guardianship of the Hebrew Free Burial Society. But 10th grader Ezra Dubov was about to go on an adventure that even he wasn’t aware of.

Ezra knew of a family legend regarding his great-great-grandfather Philip Pearl (Fishel Gedalia ben Michel Hirsh). Philip had come to New York from Starokonstantinov, Russia in 1901, and as the story was told in the family, he passed away six weeks after arriving here. The family lost track of where Philip was buried. Ezra’s grandmother, Patti Gensler, remembered having visited the kever as a little girl, but all she could recall was that it was someplace in Staten Island. 

While involved in the cleanup project at the cemetery, Ezra’s phone rang informing him that his grandmother was calling. Ezra immediately told his grandmother that he was at a cemetery. Mrs. Gensler replied that she was aware of that and that was why she was calling. Perhaps, she asked Ezra, maybe our ancestor was buried at the cemetery that Ezra was at right now.

Immediately Ezra set off with another boy in search of a matzeiva with the name Philip Pearl.  A short while later Ezra’s classmate Gideon Levy came across a monument with the last name Pearl. Finding Ezra, he excitedly asked, “What was the first name again — I think I found it.” To their amazement, Ezra was soon standing by his great-great-grandfather’s kever.

As he stood there stunned, all he could say was, “Wow!”

Word spread to his family, including to Ezra’s aunt Elana Gensler who had been tracing the family’s roots and was seeking this missing link. Last week, the family was able to commemorate the yahrtzeit for their ancestor — Fishel Gedalia ben Michel Hirsh, Philip Pearl — on its correct date, 25 Tishrei. The merit of a small act of chesed has brought an epilogue to a family’s search for its roots.