Daniel Marx - My Brother


July 23, 1953 - April 22, 2024

My brother died last evening officially at 7:57 pm in the Robert Wood Johnson University Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey.  I was the only one in the room to see his journey move forward.   

I wasn't the most "with it" of kids!   When my mother and brother came home from the hospital I evidently said:  "Who's that woman?" to my father.    

In 1956, when Daniel was three we moved from Ann Arbor, Michigan to West Lafayette, Indiana.   We lived the first year in a university owned house near the intersection of Happy Hollow and North River Roads in WL.   A year later our parents bought the house at 122 North Street, across the street from Morton School where we grew up.   The upstairs apartment's living room was our bedroom, and the bedroom was our parent's bedroom.

My brother was always closer to our father, and I to our mother.   In the second grade (I think Mrs. Tully's class) he was caught reading a book at his desk during class.   They promoted him to the third grade.  Daniel was always small, and being a year younger than his classmates, he was particularly tiny.

The West Lafayette Public Library had a series of old books by an author (perhaps Horatio Alger?) related to "raising one up by one's bootstraps through hard work" which they allowed Daniel to (delightedly) read.

His precociousness hit a wall early on, however.   Starting in the fourth grade he began "under-achieving" in school.   Our mother told me of how she went to the school seeking to have Daniel held back in school.

The school word repeatedly was:  "but he's so bright", to which our mother's reply was:  "but he's not doing the work" to no avail.

Just before Labor Day Weekend in 1961, when Daniel was eight years old, we had a planned trip to Evanston, Illinois.   Going on the trip was contingent on a positive result from a physical examination of our father.   We never went on the trip!   

In December, 1961, our mother cried a lot while our father was in the hospital.  At the age of 34, she first realized that she was going to be widowed.   Our father wasn't told (at her request).    Years later she had significant regrets at the choice of Dad's physician, a fellow Jew (who shall remain nameless).

In either the Summer of 1961 or 1962 the four of us walked in a Civil Rights Protest around the County Courthouse Square in Lafayette, Indiana.  I remember the stares of befuddled Lafayettites, who'd never seen a protest before.   

Our family was "different" in multiple ways!   Our parents put $5500 down on our $11500 house, in the "old part" of town.   Our clothes were the cheapest available from Sears, Penneys or Wards (catalogues often).   Hand-me-down's from the Hirschs were also common.  Going to the movies, meant going to a highly rated movie (only).   We didn't have television, because our father wanted us to read (a lot).

The life was in some ways wonderful, and in other ways very challenging.   We helped our father build and decorate the succah each year and Shabbos was a special time, with homemade (Ma) Challah.   I set the silver silverware at the dining room table, where we otherwise wouldn't have been eating.

Our household wasn't "child centered" in any sense of the word!   Shabbos (Friday) supper was the only meal of the week where we didn't read, while eating our meals.   Life was focused deeply on "learning not being".   While our parents cared deeply about both of us, we had to adapt to the pervasive classical music from WBAA and WILL.  

Next to the dining room was Dad's study.   The words:  "God D*mn it.  I'm ...." came down when one of us was "too loud" interrupting his work from our downstairs playroom or elsewhere.

Dad was always keeping his mind busy!   He had a small deck of playing cards and a clipboard which he used, while seated on the downstairs toilet.   He would play all four hands of a bridge game there.

In retrospect, I'd guess that indirectly, both of us, particularly Dan, felt pressures to "succeed" which didn't bode well for my brother.

In August of 1962, we took the train to NYC, a regular occurrence visiting family.    This time it was different.   Relatives saw us off as we boarded the M.S. Oslofjord, off on an exciting adventure for all of us.   We first landed in Bergen, Norway I think seven days later, taking the cable car up high above the city.   We then sailed to Stavanger, Kristiansand, and finally Oslo, where we finally left the ship.   For me, the most exciting thing was a different flavor of ice cream for each lunch and dinner until we first reached Norway.

After Oslo, we went on the train to Stockholm, Sweden.

The International Congress of Mathematicians was held in Stockholm, Sweden, from 15 August to 22 August 1962. The Congress was attended by 2107 full members and 984 associate members.


We, relaxed as our father attended meetings.  I remember a Czech (I think) delegate asking permission to take a picture of us with our badges as the last name of "Marx" had meaning to him.

In Stockholm, Michael Golomb, a close colleague of our father's (also on sabbatical to Zurich) was contacted by someone, inquiring if he was still looking for an apartment to rent.   He told the inquirer that he had a place for the three of them (wife Dagmar, and daughter Debby), but referred us to them, which helped us get our most wonderful residence for the year at 144 Freudenberg Strasse  - on The Zurichberg (the small mountain on one side of Zurich).   On the third (top) floor, we had an incredible view of much of Zurich.

Then we were on to Copenhagen, where The Tivoli Gardens (amusement park) was our big attraction of this entire part of our journey.   Then, Amsterdam, The Hague, Rotterdam, and the boat train to London where we visited my father's aunt Helene Felsenstein and others in Golders Green.   

Then we settled in Zurich, where Dan and I attended a private British school.  The public school vacations didn't coincide with our father's vacations at The Technical University where our father was studying (https://ethz.ch/en.html).  Swiss law could result in the imprisonment of parents who took children out of school during the school year, which was a major reason we went to the private school (a financial burden, as our father's sabbatical salary was halved, and the cost of living was much higher in Zurich then than in WL).

Dan and I had passes and were free to travel together to school and around Zurich, as long as we were home by nightfall.   This was a lot of fun for both of us.

Weekends we took the trains and boats on the lakes seeing the country.   It was a delightful time!   We played various card games on the train and were delighted with cities and towns throughout Switzerland.   

Christmas Vacation was off to Paris, another wonderful city.  Our parents "parked us" off watching "films" such as with Laurel and Hardy and Charlie Chaplin, while they museumed and looked at old churches (which bored us both).

Traveling we had our staple foods of choice.  They included cheap steak and breaded veal cutlets as well as French Fries.   Daniel was much harder to please than I was.    There were the never-ending battles as to how many lima beans he had to eat in his mixed vegetables, for example.   I recall the time we were horrified when ordering "milk" resulted in us getting hot milk, which we wouldn't drink.  (Soft drinks were rarely an option for us!),

After a week's skiing vacation, we had several weeks before we departed for a six week trip.  The first three weeks brought us to Milan, Florence, Venice, Rome and finally Naples.   We then boarded an Israeli ship, and went to Haifa.

My father's (mother's side) cousin Benjamin Hareli picked us up in Haifa and brought us to his house for a Passover Seder our first evening (which was done because we were "religious").   This (tears are flooding my face as I write now) had particular significance related to Daniel.

Dan was named after Ben's (where my son's name was derived from) late brother Daniel Eliasberg, who died in the 1947-1949 War.   Daniel Eliasberg had also been a good friend of one of my brother's favorite relatives (father's -father's side - unrelated to each other) of Reumah Rekhav - who brought Transcendental Meditation to Israel - also was vegetarian).

Going to Israel allowed our father to see much of his family that he'd not seen since he moved from Berlin to Cincinnati in 1927.   It also was meaningful to Daniel and the rest of us.   For our father and mother, but not us, meeting - SY Agnon, our great-uncle, Israel's first Nobel Laureate (https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Shmuel_Yosef_Agnon) was most notable.

In The Summer of 1963 we returned to Paris and went to Belgium, and The Netherlands, and sailed home on the Dutch ship The Nieuw Amsterdam.

While abroad, our father's stomach cancer had been in remission.  Back in West Lafayette in late 1963, Dad's health began deteriorating.  In the Spring of 1964, he had his second, unsuccessful surgery at Billings (The U of Chicago) Hospital.   

He took The Greyhound bus to Lafayette for my Bar Mitzvah in April, 1964.  I had prepared at the Reform Temple Israel, because The Conservative Synagogue Sons of Abraham had no rabbi when my training took place.   

My grandfather Max Kesten and Aunt Shanni Stein came for my Bar Mitzvah.  It was held on a Thursday night, because of the necessity of not driving on The Sabbath.  My mother pleaded with Rabbi Weisberg to make the service short.   She never forgave the Rabbi when my father had to (ironically) leave to get his bus back to Chicago (he needed to be back before midnight to avoid being discharged and needing to be readmitted) during the Kaddish (prayer for the dead).

I remember approximately my mother calling up the stairs to us early on the morning of Friday, November 13, 1964 saying something like:

"Boys, wake up, your Daddy died this morning".

I have no idea what Daniel thought or felt in that instant!   I had never realized that our father was dying at all.   It also made perfect sense to me.

We got dressed and went in the car to St. Elizabeth's Hospital in Lafayette, Indiana.   We were taken into our father's room, and saw him lying there.

(Note:  Our Father Imanuel Marx taught his final class at Purdue University finishing very roughly around 10 or 11 the morning of Thursday, November 12, 1964.   He felt ill.   Our mother took him to St. Elizabeth's Hospital for testing.   After the testing was completed, nothing substantive was found out.  In these pre-Medicare days, they said that since he was scheduled to come in the following morning for (additional) testing (already), he should stay in the hospital.

This was the only night our father spent in the hospital dating back to roughly April, 1964 and he (finally) let go and let himself die somewhere around 5:30 a.m. the morning of November 13th).

Our mother brought us to school and we were both at West Lafayette Junior High School that day, while our mother dealt with "reality". Again, I don't know what Daniel thought or felt.   I certainly felt myself in a very strange place, emotionally, with what little maturity I had.

The funeral was Sunday, November 15th, and Grandpa Max Kesten and our Aunt Shanni Stein were with us in Lafayette at the Jewish Cemetery for the funeral.

I know nothing of what my brother experienced in the days, months and several years after our father's death.   We got a dog which was either part Dalmatian or German Short Hair Pointer.   It was: "Dan's dog" and "Lady" was its name (I think he chose it).   I took care of Lady generally and our mother did the remaining care of Lady.   A year later we (finally) got a television set, but neither of us ever became significant tv watchers.

I'm quite clear that my image of my brother in high school must have been apart from the reality he lived in.    To me he seemed well adjusted, however obviously he wasn't (at least in part).   He played the flute in the band.   I thought that he had friends, which I certainly barely, if at all had.   

Daniel's lack of consistency in his schoolwork must have related to something, though I didn't know about this until many years later on.

I recall during my senior year, Daniel's junior year we had a small duplicate bridge club that met at our house.   My memory is that it was probably 10 - 10th graders - perhaps Rolf Lokke, David Jerison ?, Tom Palfrey, John Cote and others I don't remember.   My brother seemed full engaged and connected playing bridge (all of us were no doubt terrible bridge players then).

I do remember a humorous and telling story which I think occurred at the beginning of May, 1969, weeks before I graduated, and Daniel completed his senior year in high school.   My brother came to school wearing shorts, something that was "forbidden".

Some fellow male students dragged Daniel into the principal's office related to his purported inappropriate behavior.  Eric Casson, our principal, was a most effective, practical principal.   He had allowed "liberal" students to start a "Student Public Affairs Discussion Group" (or some similar title).   

That group had a number of controversial guest speakers after school.   I believe that (long retired)  teacher Joe Krause or someone else indicated that at one time The FBI sent one or two agents to investigate some potentially "dangerous" speaker.   Principal Casson did not take actions to prevent "free speech" in this (or I'd guess similar) case(s).

Anyway, Principal Casson announced that by a strange coincidence that the rule banning shorts had just been changed that very morning.  It seems/seemed obvious to me that Mr. Casson saw that shorts in school (no air-conditioning) were no threat to the school and that banning them made no sense.   His statement seems questionable as to its "honesty".

As the weather turned warmer, the "popular girls" and others wore shorts to school, courtesy of my brother.

I know that Daniel applied to Swarthmore (and probably Bryn Mawr) Colleges and was rejected by them both.   He went to Macalester College in St. Paul his first year at college.   I transferred in there at the last minute.   We saw little of each other the semester I remained there.

My brother then transferred to York University in Suburban Toronto.  My impression was that he liked it there at first.  He remained there for one and one-half years.

As 1972 came to a close, our mother was worried significantly about Daniel.   She somehow thought that Walter and Lotte Hirsch, on (Walter's) sabbatical in Lausanne, Switzerland could help my brother significantly (seemed/seems extremely naive).

I flew to Europe, going to Florence, Italy before the two of them were to fly to Europe.  I arrived in Lausanne by train, and Daniel wasn't there.   He'd barricaded himself in the cab to Kennedy Airport (Queens, NYC) and never went on the flight.

Daniel then transferred to Indiana University in Bloomington, Indiana.   His roommate was gay.   Decades later he indicated that this wasn't a problem for him (then).   I recall hearing that his roommate had nude pictures of men on the wall in their room.  I have trouble believing that this didn't bother him.

One evening Daniel was in a fellow dorm mate's room for a lengthy period of time - perhaps about 8:00 p.m. - 3:00 a.m. the next morning.  He didn't say a single word, the entire time he was there that evening.   

Soon thereafter Daniel was locked up in the mental facility at IU and our mother was instructed to take my brother elsewhere.   I flew to Indianapolis.  My mother, with Rabbi Radinsky along, drove us to Bloomington.   

Our mother drove us back to West Lafayette, with The Rabbi and I having Daniel between us - for safety reasons.   He was admitted to Wabash Valley Hospital - out North River Road near The State Soldier's (Retirement) home - the local mental hospital.

This was in the midst of when our mother first was visited by Ira Heimlich, who shortly thereafter became our step-father.   One very clear reason Ira appealed to our mother, was her (naive) hope that he could help end my brother's manipulation of our mother.

Daniel was let out of Wabash Valley for the wedding.   Our mother then moved to Tullahoma, Tennessee where Ira lived.   Joel Heimlich, age 11, and Susan Heimlich, age 15, were thrust into our mother's life.

Their mother had died perhaps four months earlier, when Ira was driving back from visiting their second oldest son, Mark, in Knoxville, attending The University of Tennessee.   A drunk driver had pulled in front of their car.   Milly (?), was killed instantly.  Ira was in a coma, and not expected to live.   The publisher of the local newspaper pushed authorities to "risk wasting their efforts" - transporting Ira to a larger, better hospital.  He lived, perhaps with permanent minimal brain damage.

Our mother was over her head with both the two step-children and with Ira himself.   Daniel was released from Wabash Valley, and stayed in our old house, getting A's in two classes he took at Purdue that summer.   This was the end of his college career.

Daniel moved in with the Heimlichs in Tullahoma.   This did Not work well at all.   At one point, at least, he had a girlfriend, and otherwise I only know that there was conflict between Ira and Daniel, as he was lost in Ira's world.

I recall visiting them in Tullahoma in June, 1973.  I (innocently) helped clearing dishes from the dining room table at the end of a meal.  Ira was upset that I was doing "women's work"!   This must have been part of a pattern of - rigid, gender - stereotyped control that wouldn't have worked with Daniel either.

Our mother (obviously) reached out to the Hirschs again.  This time they were of definite, significant assistance.  Ernest (Ernie) Hirsch, Walter's brother, was a clinical psychologist at the Menninger Clinic, which was then in Topeka, KS.   

Daniel spent nine months as an inpatient at Menninger, perhaps in 1974 and/or 1975 or so.   Our mother spent either $40,000 or $45,000 - paying in full for the nine months of treatment!

Daniel then moved to a half-way house in Topeka.   Lubavitchers from the Chabad House in Kansas City began visiting with Daniel.  As he grew comfortable with them, he began getting weekend passes to leave for Kansas City for the Sabbath.

I'm not clear how long this went on.   Subsequently, against medical advice, Daniel moved to 1745 - 52nd Street ("Boro Park") in Brooklyn, NY with our Aunt and Uncle and their children (and Grandpa Max Stein part of the time).

Shanni, in particular, thought that she could help Daniel.   She and they did help him, but the effort was no doubt much more challenging than they must have expected it to be.

Daniel’s early years in Boro Park were most difficult for him!   He wanted to be like the others, including his male cousins, however he just couldn’t be similar to them.   They had been studying in their Yeshivas from age 4 or 5, and he was new to this type of learning.   His concentration and study was limited also by his bipolar world with its struggle to cope and stay alive and present.   There were the needs for medication and constant reminders of how sick he really was.

As boys became men, they married, generally while relatively young.   Soon they were fathers, and they were linked, often through a wealthy father-in-law who was helping with things financially.   Cousin Yehudah was a “success story” moving into the esteemed world of Lakewood, New Jersey.   He was also skillful with his hands and helped his bride Hinde build a business which today employs roughly 30 employees.

Daniel had no “key to success” in the culture of the Haredi.   He was not the scholar who matched or more likely was matched with a suitable bride.   He had no other skills to offer a potential bride.

My brother remained single for his entire lifetime.   He was accepted in the culture of his people as one who cared and did what he could do.   He did learn and grow as the years moved forward.

As Daniel moved into middle age, his mental health issues lightened gradually.   They impacted him the rest of his life, however they didn’t control him as deeply for most of his life.

I believe that my brother was always seeking a “father” to replace the father he lost at age 11.    His seeking of a “father” wasn’t easy, nor was it successful, for the most part.   He must have seen our father as having been successful as a mathematician, a father, a husband, an intellectual and more.   His memories of being a son, of our father grew distant and limited, in ways that I don’t know or understand.

More troubling in some ways was his (and our) relationship with our mother.   She always cared!   There was no question that our mother valued us as her children.   She had her own struggles!   Her husband Ira Heimlich had limited good sides, and horrible bad sides.   He was very controlling and limiting of her becoming herself.

Daniel at age 11 had only a single parent who struggled deeply in her own life.   She knew at age 34, that she would be widowed within the coming years, because her husband was dying of terminal stomach cancer.   She alone, knew this horrible truth, at least from December, 1961 until sometime probably in early 1964, possibly a little earlier.

Our mother (in part because she knew what she knew) pushed for the writing of wills for both of them before we left the U.S. in August, 1962.   Our father was clearly “our guardian” in the event of our mother’s death.   Our mother was (I would guess) guardian of our person, essentially, in the will, but not guardian with full financial responsibilities.

Henry Wolff, our wealthy cousin living one block from Central Park South, was the co-guardian in the event of our father’s death.

Later on a revised will took Henry out, as our mother was thought to be “more capable” than had previously been determined.

While superficially, our mother was “mature”, there remained a troubling immaturity within her that lasted throughout her lifetime.

When our mother was widowed, she really did Not become a “full-parent” to both of us.   Beyond the initial grieving period, when “everyone” was supportive, her world collapsed in important ways.

The friends of West Lafayette bifurcated in troubling ways.   The Hirschs and Schenkmans became our closest “family” in strongly positive ways.   Others such as The Brays and Goffmans remained as good friends.   Many others sadly disappeared, as they were (in retrospect) “his” friends, not “their friends”.   The world of West Lafayette was a “couples world” and our mother felt emotionally isolated.   She sought a “replacement” partner, and there were (probably) several short-term failed relationships.   Sam Conte, the head of the Purdue Computer Science Department (whose own wife wasn’t dead quite yet), told our mother (per her story later on) that he: “didn’t want to become the step-father for two hippies”.

In her grief, our mother, focused deeply upon her career as a special education teacher, working long hours.   In some ways my mother leaned on me totally inappropriately, sharing information she shouldn’t have with me.  She tacitly in some ways took me on, a teen age boy, as a pseudo-husband/confidant.

The seeds of Daniel’s control over/ manipulation of our mother which impacted their relationship greatly as he moved towards and into his college years must have begun building in 1965, at least.   I never knew much of what went on.  I wasn’t even aware of the major problems until they were grossly visible circa late 1972.

As Daniel was in middle age and our mother moving into older age, their relationship was certainly no longer toxic.   How deep it may have been, I have no way of knowing.  I suspect, as it was with me, it had its significant limitations.

Daniel in adulthood was seeking deep answers, and not finding them (for the most part).   He would “rabbi shop”!   He would go to a local rabbi and seek his opinion on something that related to himself – personally.   When the rabbi didn’t agree with the solution Daniel sought, he would move on to another rabbi, and continue seeking, until he heard what he wanted to hear.   This wasn’t helpful for his growth!

Daniel fell under the spell of Rabbi Schlomo Carlesbach, and remained beholden to him, until his death (I think in the 1990’s).   As with his ways, Carlesbach “knew it” and Daniel lived in his shadow.   He told me many times of both the wonder of all that his “guru” knew, as well as the joy of being with “the singing rabbi” – the warm, sharing, caring person.

Subsequent to his death, his hero was noted to have (totally inappropriately) been shall we say “close” to multiple female followers, similar to some other male (horrible) role models.   That didn’t detract from Daniel’s view, because he basically needed, psychologically believe, and Carlesbach supported that part in him, perhaps not as deeply, as Daniel imagined.

My brother’s world, was a world where “certainty” and clearly defined boundaries was vital.   “God’s will” and religious dictates were most important.  One could and did debate the meaning of much, but behavior and one’s general lifestyle was within clear boundaries.

This structured world was most necessary for Daniel’s well-being!   Uncertainty – doubt – were dangerous – seriously dangerous for him.  The Haredi World – kept him out of mental hospitals and possible early death for a long, long time.  

Our mother developed a deep respect for the community Daniel had when he had a “first act” of what killed him at age 70.   He was put on a medication for his bipolar condition, that required frequent blood tests.   It landed him in the hospital – with a low white blood cell count, totally in danger of dying from any infection that could reach him bodily.

When I talked with one of Daniel’s doctors during my first trip to the New Brunswick hospital, the ultimate irony became evident.   They didn’t have the “old records” (understandable) and he may well have died as a result of being put on a medication that had proven toxic for him close to several decades earlier on.   This will remain possible, and not certain.

A significant part of Daniel’s life was the major job of his lifetime!   Daniel failed at several attempts at part-time jobs.   He then was hired as a clerk in a store with private mail boxes where packages were shipped via Fed Ex, UPS, and The U.S. Postal Service.

Daniel’s success in this job, related significantly to the store’s two (sequential) owners tolerating his inconsistencies.  He was often late to work.   He went off most years to visit the gravesite of a rabbi perhaps in the Ukraine, who had died a long-long time ago when thousands of fellow Haredi men gathered there.

Through his employer, Daniel had his flip phone (eventually) and his internet access when at work (where he could receive and respond to email primarily).   He also had some independence and an important part of his life.

Perhaps in 2019 or so, Daniel fell and was briefly hospitalized in Maimonides Hospital in Brooklyn.   He had developed Parkinson like symptoms, with shakes in his arms, related to the decades of medication he had taken.  

Daniel fell, and this lead to his no longer being able to work as he neared the end of his life.   The social world of this job was very important to Daniel.

Also important were Daniel’s friends!   They were both “little old men” like himself, as well as some accomplished (male) members of the Boro Park Haredi community.   This was notable, in the number of friends, who traveled to Lakewood from Boro Park – based upon communication starting around 9:00 p.m. April 22nd, getting them over an hour away to the funeral by 1:15 a.m. later that night.

Daniel had his roommate in Boro Park, who was (East) Indian-Israeli and occasional others who stayed in the 1745 flat.

Daniel donated money to “the poor” around him in Boro Park, as he was able to.  One reason that a trust was needed for him, was that he would have given away all the money, if limits were not put upon him.

The death of Shanni Stein must have been very difficult for Daniel!   He never fully acknowledged the depth of his loss to me, but it must have been huge.   As Noach Stein aged, his ties to Daniel lightened somewhat, particularly when he moved to Lakewood to live with his daughter.

After Noach’s death, a major problem existed for the Family!   Where would Daniel live, so they could sell the 1745 – 52nd street building.   He lacked the capacity to find “the right place” for himself.   I tried to help push forward the effort and support my cousins as they searched for an alternative.

Money, availability, logistics and more as well as Daniel’s stubbornness and manipulations at times made things more complicated.   At first he talked of a place where there would be two rooms for himself and another man (presumably at first his roommate) in a house where the landlord would live and they would have kitchen access.   This idea never went anywhere after multiple failed efforts.

Then efforts were put forth related to some type of living type of situation.   Initially Daniel was rejecting both moving to Lakewood, which seemed easier logistically and financially, as well as being in any type of “institutional” setting of any kind.

Eventually a plan was put forth for Daniel to move initially with a cousin in Lakewood, and for an application be put forth for Medicaid in New Jersey, that could then allow him to move to what became his final home in an Assisted Living Facility in Lakewood.

The Medicaid process dragged on and on.  I was consulted related to the will and trust agreement that existed.  

I visited my brother in Lakewood and helped move the process to allow him to move into his apartment.  It was a beautiful facility, with a warm, caring staff.

Daniel was “strange” during the visit, though parts of this were his normal being.   My visit was extremely time limited.  I think that I stayed there only two nights.   My brother both greatly appreciated me being there, and seemingly (on the surface) did all that made our time together extremely limited.

I couldn’t pick him up (my cousin loaned me a vehicle) until about noon both days.  He was never ready to leave by them, and was horribly inefficient and slow.   This was totally “who he was”.    I recall passing by another Haredi man, and Daniel was in discussion with this stranger, ignoring me totally.

We went out to a nice restaurant where I remember eating some excellent fish.   I met various staff at the Assisted Living Facility.  I determined that they needed a specific form completed by a physician before they could accept him and determined that if it wasn’t received shortly, he might lose the apartment they were then saving for him.   I drove him to two different offices in opposite directions, getting the necessary form and hand delivering it to the Assisted Living Office.

My visit to Lakewood accomplished what was necessary.  It lacked a little of the “emotional depth” that I sought.   I didn’t know then that this would be the last time I would see Daniel in person where he could tell his corny jokes and where we could share what we could share together. 

At first things seemed relatively “sane” at the Assisted Living site.  Soon, troubling issues began related particularly to the woman next door to Daniel.   I don’t want to get into further detail and will never know some significant specifics myself.

Daniel ended up hospitalized for 10 days in a local mental hospital.   Against his cousins and my wishes (we had a conference call) he was released because he “was stabilized”, he was released back to his home.  Medicare and Medicaid would only pay until “stabilization”.

For three days he was out of the hospital and then hospitalized again, again the 10 day cycle happened.   Again he was out for three days.

Then, thankfully he was hospitalized in a major state mental hospital.  I believe that he was there roughly three weeks, being released I think Thursday, April 4th

On Friday, April 5th, my brother was rushed to an emergency room with a serious fever.   It was noted that his white blood cell county was extremely low and the medication that he reacted to was ceased immediately.   It remained in his body, however, greatly affecting him.

It became clear that the local hospital, despite having a wonderful primary care physician, had a complex case that was beyond their capabilities.   They began seeking admission to a better suited hospital. 

I was called on Friday, April 12th, and flew out four hours later from San Francisco to Newark.   I slept a few hours in an airport area hotel, took the train into Manhattan, and left my luggage in a second hotel. 

I got to The Robert Wood Johnson Hospital in New Brunswick, New Jersey roughly 9:15 a.m. on Saturday.


Death is NOT always "pretty"!

STOP - now - if you don't want to see some difficult stuff!

During the entire time I saw my brother, I had no way of knowing if he was aware that I was with him.   I could see him bodily responding to direct treatment by various medical treatment much of the time I was there.   During the final day of his life, my brother clearly was less directly responsive.

The treatment was within a Critical Care Unit of the Hospital.   Generally, there was a single nurse assigned to my brother, working from around 7:00 a.m. to 7:30 pm, relieved by a night nurse overlapping for half an hour.

My  brother was sedated initially.  The sedation was taken off later on.  His intubation was taken off and he was breathing, with some assistance as he lacked some breathing capacity.   During the final 1-2 days of his life the intubation was resumed, relate to my cousins’ determination that Daniel should be “kept alive”.

None of this happened!   Initially, there was clearly some consciousness.   When a medical professional would speak fairly loudly at him, he could slightly open his eyes, squeeze a finger and wiggle his toes.   When asked direct questions such as whether he was feeling a lot of pain, there was no response.

During the final hours of my brother’s life, there was clear deep concern expressed by his physicians.   A coordinating physician told me that Daniel was grimacing from the pain that he was experiencing.  Neither the primary treating nurse, nor I could see this, however I respected the physician’s judgment and concern(s).

There was a misunderstanding between the staff family the final Monday afternoon.  Hearing that renal dialysis for kidney failure had to cease after 10 minutes of effort (due to Daniel’s extreme weakness) brought deep compassion in the key (decision-making) family member.

He told the physician that Daniel did not need to be resuscitated when his breathing stopped.  This was a significant change!   He said he was 99% certain that they would agree to ceasing the four blood pressure medications that were keeping my brother alive.

The doctor had said that he would die within 30 seconds if the medications were stopped.  Otherwise – they couldn’t stop, but only could delay, Daniel’s death.

After he gathered his information and contacted the man (it obviously couldn’t have been a woman!)  who knew the “rules”, he said that he needed to be kept on the medication.

NOTE:  I was NOT allowed to take pictures of my brother the day that he died.   All of these (gruesome) pictures were taken in the days ending Wednesday morning before his death the following week.

Daniel’s organs were failing, There was a tremendous amount of intervention being provided because fellow family members believed (religiously) that it was necessary to keep Daniel alive as long as possible.

While I fully deferred to my family members, my partner and I both strongly disagreed with what was being done to my Brother!   They clearly knew my brother much better than we did, and knew what he would have wanted

I feel that it is inhumane to basically forced a person to literally “stay alive”, no matter what the pain, nor level of intervention.   Visually, anyone can see the collection of equipment that was feeding liquids into my brother’s body.

The staff at The Robert Wood Johnson Hospital were amazing!   They were most communicative with each other and with us, the family.   The work that they did was complex!   They consulted with each other and supported each other incredibly well!   Staff replacing staff when shifts ended knew rapidly what was up.

A family member (initially) said to me that we needed to put forth an image of my brother that was 100% POSITIVE.   This individual indicated that seeing an aging, weak old man, otherwise my brother would probably not get complete, thorough treatment (as other more “needy” patients would get the primary focus).

A physician treating my brother indicated that the staff did all that they could for all of their patients.  I talked outside of the hospital with a family friend, who’d known my brother since 1961 and is also a treating physician in New Jersey.   Both of them indicated that those in the medical professions (nearly all, always) do all that they can for all patients!

I found the “religious side” of things, while sincerely felt, highly disrespectful of life!   Within the Haredi Orthodox Jewish faith, it was important to bury my brother as soon as possible after his death.

A temporary “deadline” was approaching.   My cousins left his bedside before I arrived.   I had been called at 5:15 a.m. in Chicago and made a plane reservation at 5:20 and flew out of O’Hare Airport at 9:05, heading for Newark.  I took a Lyft to the hospital, getting there as soon as possible.

My cousins left because Pesach (Passover) was approaching.   Ideally, from their perspective, Daniel would either pass away soon enough to allow his burial before Pesach began, or he would live until it concluded roughly 49 hours after starting. 

Alternatively, his body was going to be “stuck” in the morgue of the hospital (as it ended up being), and in this case with no one staying with my brother’s body.   This is NOT – “good” – in their, nor our view.

Their religious necessity of trying to keep Daniel alive conflicted with their desire for a funeral before Pesach began.

Seeing my brother die was very meaningful!  I cried, I talked gently with him, saying to him that it was okay to let go.   I gave him a few “breaks”, leaving the room so if he wanted to let go alone, he had the change to do so.

Standing and sitting by his bedside, mostly alone, I could see his body losing his life connection, as his blood pressure dropped lower and lower, despite the medication seeking to keep his blood pressure up.

Daniel looked peaceful, as he drifted away.  I was and am sad!   I also knew and know that it was the right time for him to die.   At one point the doctors came into the room and determined that he was still (barely) alive.   The nurse was outside, doing her work.

I could tell when the life finally left Daniel’s body!   I cry (now) thinking of what transpired, with grief and acknowledgment of the meaning.   The numbers on the machines, the sounds of the machines – and something that I could just sense, clearly happened – as I stood close to my brother, watching him – peacefully – contentedly, with deep sadness.

When I called the nurse and she the doctors, the latter confirmed that he died (officially) as 7:57 pm, Monday, April 22nd.   His actual time of death was probably approximately 7:54 pm.   The time didn’t matter.

I left the room with my luggage within a minute then.  I didn’t want to experience the “procedures” that the staff needed to do.  I had confirmed that the family would not want an autopsy.


As Pesach approached, and my brother remained lingering, but still (a little) alive, I was very unclear as to what I was going to do (next).   As it passed 4:30 pm, it was then obvious that my brother’s death wasn’t going to come soon enough for the funeral to be on Monday (that day).

I was going to need to leave the room at 8:00 pm – no matter what shape my brother was in.   In that case, initially, I thought that I’d stay in New Brunswick, so I could be there easily the next morning to see my brother. 

Then I realized that if my brother lived until 8:00 pm, he’d obviously die before 8:00 a.m. the next morning, so staying in New Brunswick made no sense.

My cousins were urging me to spend Pesach with them.  It was okay, even if I needed to travel early on Pesach, to come to be with them.  I realized that I Definitely didn’t want to spend Pesach in Lakewood.

Being out-of-touch from Brenda for 49 hours wasn’t okay with me.  It would be stressful for me.  Their assurances were sincerely put forth, but totally irrelevant.  I was emotionally and physically exhausted.

I made a hotel reservation for three nights where I had last stayed in Manhattan.

It was peaceful to leave, get on the train, and return to Manhattan with all my luggage.   I relaxed and slept in NYC.  

I did various things on Tuesday and Wednesday and then was in my hotel room to check in for my Thursday evening flight to New Orleans and to be at the funeral.

My cousin’s husband had assured me that the funeral could be as early as 9:30 on Thursday and arranged at my convenience so I could make my flight to New Orleans.

Sundown came at 7:45, and I waited 15 more minutes and then began callingW.  No answer.  No answer.   No answer.   45 minutes passed.  I called the Hospital.

Through a lot of kindness, I managed to eventually talk with both the hospital staff and then the (I thought) funeral director in Lakewood.

I was astounded!   

I was “the next of kin”.    I had to approve everything.


I was very relaxed until 8:30 pm.   Then I began to stress as I found out that my brother’s body was at the hospital, no arrangements were finalized, and MOST Significantly – that I was deeply integral and important both to what happened next and even when it happened.

Finally – around 8:45 – I heard from my cousin’s wife.   She had been and is supportive of me.

Suddenly – the funeral’s time was unclear.  

I had arranged for my close, old friend – to go with me to the funeral the following morning.  He would get me to the funeral.  I had to get him a Yamukah.  He would take me from the funeral to  wherever would work for me making my 7:25 pm flight from LaGuardia.

Now – the – you can have the funeral when you want it to be – suddenly couldn’t be in the morning on Thursday.  The earliest it could be on Thursday would be 2:00 p.m.   That wasn’t safe for me catching my flight.

Phone call after phone call after phone call ensued.  I was (thankfully) fully packed and had things mostly arranged.  I got things 100% arranged for any contingency.

Now-  they were DOING ME A FAVOR - by having the funeral scheduled at 1:00 a.m. on Thursday morning.  Again – I could stay over in Lakewood.  Again – I had No Intention of doing so.

Transportation was going to be arranged for me.  I would be driven to the funeral at 1:00 a.m.   It was now approach 10:00 pm. – and things weren’t finalized at all.   Finally my cousin’s husband said it would be simpler if I took an Uber and arranged things myself.  He would pay for the Uber (I’m waiting for that payment – and won’t be pressing for it).

I left on a Lyft – for Lakewood around 10:30 or a little later on.   I paid at least $270 with a small tip for the ride.

I arrived to the surprise of my younger cousin at her house at 12:15 a.m.    She was welcoming.  I took care of myself – refused water – didn’t want to be stuck.

The confusion remained – as I went to the funeral.  I was confused even at the funeral.   First – there was a funeral before my brothers.  There seemed to be at least 100 cars leaving the cemetery.  I avoided being hit by any cars.

I was asked if I’d like to say anything at the funeral.  I decided I wanted to speak briefly.

T H E     F U N E R A L

Literally - "stolen" from TLS: The Lakewood Scoop:

Petirah of Daniel Marx Z"L

April 25 12:02 am

We regret to inform you of the Petirah of Daniel Marx Z"L of Lakewood.

Daniel resided on Madison Avenue in Lakewood.  He was 71

The Kevurah is scheduled to take place at 1:00 AM this evening in Lakewood

Baruch Dayan Ha'enes



The funeral began at 1:15 a.m.   I’d left my back pack in the trunk of the car I’d come with my cousin’s husband’s car – the trunk unlocked.  My suitcases were ready to leave in the hotel room in Manhattan.  I’d arranged if I wasn’t back by 11:00 am – to have the room cleaned – then and I’d pay extra.  My train ticket remains unused to Summit New Jersey.  My friend wasn’t coming to funeral.

I am clueless as to 90+ % of the start except that it was speaking positively about my brother.  I don’t understand Yiddish!  I had no interpreter!

After 10+ minutes – speeches began.  They  jumped in and out of Yiddish and English.   Speakers were asked to use English (for my benefit).

I knew that visually I would stand out!  Normatively – a plurality had the Haredi hats – a lesser number Black Top Hats and one or two perhaps Yamukahs.  

I didn’t know much of the Female Presence – because the screen separated them from the men.


As things slowed down a little and I slowed down and got grounded it go easier for me.   More of the speeches were at least somewhat understandable.  

I heard of a wonderful brother – hearing little at first of the challenges of his life.   His limitations were in moments alluded to, but never shared.

It was totally incomplete- but was at least calming and relevant.

I spoke last – after the next to last speaker was told to speak briefly.

I could finally see everyone - perhaps 52 men and 8 women or so. 

I kept it brief!

I didn't say exactly what I intended to say, but I'm fine with what I said.  Mostly I (quite honestly) thanked my cousins and other relatives for all that they had done for me.

I also spoke how it had been meaningful to be with my brother the last day of his life and a brief, censored, synopsis of the final hours.

We then walked to the gravesite and there was confusion as the casket was lowered into the ground.   After several shovels full of sand were put on top of the gravesite I got a shovel and shoveled more than was normative.  

Several men commented on how strong I am.   For the moment - that felt fine and I felt fine - at shoveling - with Energy and Grief and Compassion (tears flowing now as I write).

It seemed like the gravesite was filled very quickly.   I'd talked about if I could get a ride back to NYC.  I was offered one, but was confused with who I was going with.

The confusion ended and I was taken most kindly back to my hotel.  As we got closer I realized that I had another option.


I left NYC on the 6:00 a.m. flight heading to New Orleans.  I would sleep and grieve and celebrate and more.

I'm glad I did what I did!


Upon Landing in Denver on the way to New Orleans I received a call from my cousin's wife.   She was clearly aghast that my grieving was not going to be seven days of Shivah.

I am grieving and will continue grieving!

There is more - with DEEP REGRETS - that is deliberately left out now!!!


I want to thank you all for your kind comments! My brother's life was challenging. Academically and intellectually he had great promise. Emotionally - his psychological issues controlled so much of who he became. He coped through becoming a very religious Jew. Judaism became "his life". It saved him from disaster. My life path was and is extremely different from his! My brother needed certainty and "the truth" being in front of him every day. My mother's family accepted Daniel fully and went far, far beyond what anyone could have hoped for in helping him have the best life he or I could have hoped for. They got far, far more (in a difficult sense) than they could have expected. Despite the HUGE "flaws" and issues my brother faced, he always said (and I believe that he believed) that his life was Getting Better (most times I talked with him over the past 15-20 years). He fully accepted his life path and was happy! Watching his final year of his life - when he moved from Brooklyn where he lived the majority of his life to Lakewood, NJ - remains very painful for me. I will never know what he felt! His life, which on the surface, looked like it should have been an ideal "retirement", was a disaster! He couldn't handle the Change! I'm very thankful that despite understanding and knowing my brother deeply wasn't possible for me, that I was there for him when I was needed during much of his final "page of his life" when hospitalized - where he died! I will never know what, if anything, he saw or understood. I learned a lot! I experienced and supported him how I could!


  1. What a beautiful tribute! Thank you for sharing.

  2. Thank you, George, for sharing your story. It fills in so many gaps of my understanding of Dan. I remember your house across the street from the playground. And I believe your mother subbed in our class once or twice. I liked Dan. However, as the years went by, our paths diverged and I saw him less and less. I believe he is now at peace. And I hope that you are comforted by happy memories and the love of siblings.


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