Alex Shloime Friedman, 93, departed from this world on August 18, 2013 (13 Elul 5773) to meet his Creator.
As a young man Alex, one of six children, grew up in Kiskunfelegyhaza, Hungary. His entire family, with the exception of his brother, Naftoli Hertzke, perished in the Holocaust. In 1944 he was deported from Hungary to Dachau, where he was liberated by American troops. After the war, he returned to Hungary, where he found his brother, Naftoli, and met his eishes chayil, Eva. Naftoli never married and Alex and Eva made a place for him in their home and family life from the time they married until he was niftar in1991.
Upon his return to Kiskunfelegyhaza, Alex discovered that Jewish life there had been virtually destroyed during the war. To help rebuild, he built a mikveh – in his home – for the community. He also became the head of the chevrah kadishah, replacing his murdered father.
Alex and Eva’s only child, Andrew, was born in Hungary in 1947. When Andrew was young, public school was a requirement under Hungary’s Communist government; the school week covered six days, including Shabbos. Despite this schedule, Alex did not send his son to school on Shabbos, and Andrew would have to catch up on his schoolwork by calling his non-Jewish classmates on Sunday.
The Friedmans lived in Budapest until the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, at which time they immigrated to Los Angeles as refugees.
Despite lacking fluency in English, Alex quickly became a successful businessman, developing a chain of drive-in dairies. He sent his son to Toras Emes through the eighth grade; however, once Andrew graduated, there was no yeshiva high school in Los Angeles for him to attend. So Alex sent his only son, his precious ben yachid, thousands of miles away to Telz Yeshiva in order to continue his Torah studies.
Alex was president of numerous shuls in Los Angeles, including Congregation Machzikei Hadas and Congregation Anshei Sfard. He was the heart and soul of Congregation Bais Naftoli, which was named after his brother. For more than 20 years, well into his 80s, he rose early to open the shul’s doors and attend his Daf Yomi shiur. His devotion to his shiur even led him to purchase Gemaras for all of the attendees.
In his later years, he was pained greatly due to his inability to attend both his shiur and shul altogether. And on every Erev Shabbos, when his grandchildren and great-grandchildren visited him, he would express his hope that maybe that Shabbos would be the one that he’d make it to shul.
While in the hospital, too weak to speak, he managed to communicate to his great-granddaughter that his yarmulke was lost in the ambulance ride to the hospital and that he wanted her to bring him another one.
His wife, Eva, passed away 15 years ago. He leaves behind his son Andrew, four grandchildren – Chaim, Dovi, Deenie, and Arye – and 15 great-grandchildren.
Yehi zichro baruch.
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