Nearly 1,000 fill Williamsburg street to mourn Isaac Rosenberg

67-Year-Old Real Estate Developer, Key Presence In W’burg Satmar Community, Drowned in Florida

May 19, 2016 By Andy Katz Special to the Brooklyn Daily Eagle
Mourners gradually fill up space before Yetev Lev D’Satmar to mourn Isaac Rosenberg. Eagle photos by Andy Katz
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Nearly 1,000 members of the Satmar Hasidic community filled Hooper Street in Williamsburg on Wednesday to mourn the sudden and shocking death of Isaac Rosenberg, 67, a major real estate investor and developer who was also a key presence in the Williamsburg Satmar community.

Rosenberg had been on vacation in Florida, swimming in the ocean when he apparently, along with four other men, was caught in a rip current. Three of the men were successfully rescued, but Mr. Rosenberg, along with Kiryas Joel diamond merchant Chaim Parnes, drowned.

“It was a shock,” said Roy Stillman, president of Stillman Development. He described Isaac Rosenberg as a close friend and business partner who made major contributions to the Williamsburg community, including the synagogue Congregation Yetev Lev D’Satmar, where his funeral took place. “It was very humbling,” Stillman went on, “to receive a call like that. We’re reminded of the fragility of life — how it can be gone so quickly.”

With a death so sudden and distant, added to shock and grief was the logistical problem of bringing the deceased home in time to observe Jewish law, which requires the dead be buried no more than 24 hours after passing.

Only a few hundred mourners filled the street in front of Yetev Lev D’Satmar when Rosenberg’s traditional plain wood casket arrived, where it was placed on a table in the street. An impassioned eulogy in Yiddish filled the morning air, broadcast via loudspeakers as more members of the community quickly filed in.

Women gathered behind a mechtiza, or barrier for the sexes, formed from NYPD crowd control barriers. Groups of boys were bused in from nearby yeshivas, many self-consciously using their forefingers to twirl their payos. Young men with sparse beards stuck their heads out of the yeshiva windows across the street from the synagogue to watch the service.

After the oration was concluded, the now thousand-strong group of mourners marched after the hearse, stopping at Yeshiva Torah Vyirah D’Satmar on Wythe Street, which Rosenberg had donated to the community. Primary school boys in colorful shirts and yarmulkes climbed on the wrought iron fences to watch the procession and listen as further honors were recited for their yeshiva’s benefactor.

The funeral procession continued along the streets of Williamsburg, often momentarily blocking vehicular traffic, as Rosenberg’s remains paid a last visit to significant parts of the community he had helped to build.

After the final stop, mourners used stainless steel cups to wash their hands, rinsing first one hand and then the other in time-honored tradition.

Civic leaders such as Public Advocate Leticia James, Brooklyn Borough President Eric Adams and state Sen. Jesse Hamilton offered their condolences via Twitter.


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