Thinking of ‘Whitey’ on 10th yahrzeit


We are approaching the 10th anniversary (28th of Elul, Sept. 19) of the passing of Mark “Whitey” Davidman, Moshe Yitzchak ben Shmuel Tzvi Halevi. As one of the many beneficiaries of Whitey’s good deeds, I’m sure I’m not alone in missing him and the security I felt when I spotted his big white SUV cruising around the neighborhood.

Whitey was an amazing person with incredible energy who devoted so much of his life to helping others in acute and often urgent situations. It would be a shame to let this milestone pass without some acknowledgement of Whitey and what he did for me, my family and the broader community.

Whitey may have done much behind the scenes at Hatzalah but he was first and foremost a true first responder. He responded to major public emergencies including the 1993 World Trade Center bombing, but more significantly, he seemed to always be wherever necessary to help people in need.

My own experiences with Whitey included his taking my father o”h to Brookdale Hospital in the 1980s, many calls on behalf of my mother, as well as driving me personally to the hospital on one occasion. 

Over the years Whitey and I davened in the same minyan. For quite a few years, we sat next or near to each other in the back of the Soshtain Beis Medrash at the Young Israel of Woodmere hashkama minyan. For about a year or so before Whitey passed away, we coincidentally started davening in the Pinsky library minyan, where once again we sat in the back row. Whitey always had the Hatzalah radio on or in his ear, listening to the action and always prepared to make a quick exit if his help was needed.

Over the years, I observed Mark guiding, teaching and counseling his sons who would be davening with him on a given Shabbos. I saw him pointing out life lessons to them — “say hello” to Mr. so and so, go help out with this or that shul matter, etc.

He never let his guard down, he was always “on,” whether for community service, in attention to his boys, or in being able to help out in any way someone needed.

Over time, Whitey and I developed a friendship, a relationship of mutual respect, whether we were davening together, at simchas, meeting up at local community events, or talking business.

One of my fond memories of Whitey is shmoozing in real estate; Whitey was the only person to ever acknowledge my input to a situation he was involved in with a present. He so much appreciated that I gave him some counsel regarding a personal real estate matter that he showed up one Friday afternoon to drop off a (very unnecessary) silver gift. I cherish that present from a real mensch.

After all the times he had helped me and my parents, if anything, I owed him a gift and not the other way around. But his kind of service was sincerely altruistic and it was understood as such. 

Whitey would be so proud of the new Hatzalah facility on West Broadway. I never pass that location and not think of him. Whitey represented what we all should be — caring and contributing members of our community and society. 

I would like to end with a story that took place the day of the funeral for the local firefighter who died while on duty in our community. I’m sure many of you remember this funeral which was on a Shabbos. After davening, many of us walked toward Hewlett to pay our respects as the funeral procession would be driving by. We knew the route and people literally lined the streets.

Whitey and I left Young Israel of Woodmere together and walked towards Broadway. We waited on a particular corner until the procession passed and afterwards began walking towards home together. As we were crossing Peninsula Boulevard at Woodmere Boulevard, Whitey’s Hatzalah radio went off; it was a call about an injured child just a block away from where we stood. I joined him in running across Peninsula Boulevard, and observed the father of the injured child looking out for help to arrive. I realized how good this person must have felt that within 30 seconds of making the call, he could see Whitey running towards him. I asked Whitey if I could be of any assistance and his response was, “no Harry, I got this … go to your family.” 

That was Whitey.

Ye’hei zichro boruch; may his memory be a blessing.