Photo Credit:
Albert Mammon Davening At The Kotel


More Mitzvot


Reached by phone, Rabbi Yochanan Ivry of Congregation Toras Emes of Staten Island says, “I met Albert six, maybe seven years ago.  He’s an active member of our shul, well versed in Jewish law, with a beautiful voice – and he’s there for us day and night.”

According to Rabbi Ivry, a couple of years ago, Mammon was approached by a friend whose Jewish relative was scheduled to be buried in a non-Jewish cemetery. The friend asked Mammon to go to the hospital and explain to the family why this would be a great mistake. Although he didn’t know the family or the deceased, Mammon went. He spoke respectfully, but so knowledgeably that a traditional burial in a Jewish cemetery was arranged – a great mitzvah, according to Rabbi Ivry. Another mitzvah Mammon performed involved going to a shiva house in Manhattan Beach and bringing along enough Jewish auxiliary officers to complete a minyan, so that Kaddish could be said.

“Albert’s Jewish name is Avraham,” says the rabbi. “Avraham was the first patriarch, the first one who called out God’s name and was not ashamed to speak his truth – even in a world where, at that time, people were worshiping idols. The name suits Albert Mammon.”

Philip Snyder, 30, a member of the Young Leadership Board of RAJE – the Russian American Jewish Experience in Brooklyn, says, “Albert stops by often with his auxiliary crew, to say hello. He speaks with the participants one on one to give advice and lend a helping hand. He steers them in the right direction, taking on the role of police officer, mentor, family member, and friend. Albert is one of the few authority figures people can confide in and trust, knowing they won’t be judged. He comes to a Shabbos meal once in a while and usually gives a pro-Israel, pro-police speech.  He also made sure we had kosher food at the precinct on ‘National Night Out.’”


Mr. Figaro, the Singing Barber

Albert’s father, Jacob Mammon, was the legendary “Mr. Figaro, the Singing Barber” who sang with Elvis, cut Rabbi Meir Kahane’s hair, fought alongside Menachem Begin, claimed Maimonides as an ancestor, owned and operated a combination barbershop-opera house at 1919 Avenue Z in Brooklyn.

Twenty-something years ago, this reporter visited that shop with her son, then a little boy.  Before the haircut, the barber sat down at a baby grand piano and belted out “O Sole Mio” with such power that the mirrors nearly cracked and fell off the wall. Jacob’s wife (Albert’s mother, since deceased) interrupted the performance with a smile: “Enough opera, cut his hair already.”

After a stroke in 2011, Jacob stopped cutting hair and moved into a Brooklyn nursing home to recover.

This past October, Jacob, 88, comatose, was rushed to Coney Island Hospital and placed on life support.  Albert, then on vacation in Israel, took an emergency flight back to New York to spend the last part of Tishrei’s chagim – and all the days that followed – at Jacob’s bedside.  A steady stream of visitors found him standing there talking softly to his father and saying Tehillim.

Jacob’s lifelong love of music was such that when Albert held an iPhone to his ear and played “Hatikvah,” a monitor displayed his vital signs as markedly improved. When the music stopped, they reverted back to what they were before. On Friday night, Shabbat, October 16, with machines beeping and Albert standing by, Jacob Mammon passed away.

That Sunday, at Brooklyn’s Shomrei Hadas, a grieving son conducted the funeral service, recounting and celebrating, in story after “just one more” story, his papa’s remarkable life, even showing film clips of “Mr. Figaro” singing and talking to reporters.  Mourners of every race, religion, rank and political affiliation, including many NYPD officers in dress uniform, watched, transfixed – and understood.


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Beth Sarafraz is a writer living in Brooklyn.