BY LEAH LEVY / AJT //
The legacy and “light” of Dr. Ephraim Frankel were fondly recalled at a recent memorial assembly held in honor of the longtime headmaster of Greenfield Hebrew Academy.
Dr. Frankel was the Head of School at GHA for 23 years, from 1967 to 1990. He passed away in New Jersey in early November. In honor of his shloshim, when it is customary to learn Mishnah in honor of the deceased, GHA students were addressed by Rabbi Lee Buckman, GHA Head of School; Leah Summers, GHA principal; Dr. David Frankel, president of the board at GHA and Dr. Ephraim Frankel’s son; and Sammy and Micah Frankel, GHA students and grandsons of the late headmaster.
Beth Intro, a first grade teacher at GHA and a former student who attended GHA during Dr. Frankel’s tenure, recalled Dr. Frankel greeting her by name decades after she graduated.
“He never made us feel like we were just ‘some’ past students,” she said. “I was important to him, and he remembered me. He was important to me, and I will always remember him.”
Cousins Sammy and Micah Frankel delivered a d’var Torah memorializing their grandfather. They noted how appropriate it was to honor him on Chanukah – a holiday focusing on maintaining Jewish identity.
Dr. Frankel, they said, ensured “that GHA was a place where all Jewish children could thrive, no matter their background and no matter what shul they went to.”
Dr. David Frankel also spoke movingly of the connection between his father’s life and the festival of Chanukah.
He said that the Jews were “a light unto nations.” The Greeks may have considered themselves an enlightened people, but the difference, he explained, was that the Greeks focused on external light and beauty, while the Jewish tradition emphasizes inner beauty and the light of the soul.
“In metaphorical terms, my dad was a light,” Dr. Frankel said. “The legacy he leaves behind is not the glitz and glamour that we might see from the movie stars and sports figures who grab today’s headlines. What stands out about my dad are the stories of him greeting students each day, and making sure that everyone at the school – students, teachers, parents, and staff – felt like a special person in the world.
“As we begin to celebrate the festival of Chanukah, I hope we can all take inspiration, not only from Maccabees, but from the people in our lives who have kindled a light that has made each of us a better person, and may we in time accept the challenge of becoming lights unto others.”
Leah Levy is a paraprofessional at GHA and the author of “The Waiting Wall,” a Sydney Taylor Notable Book for 2010.