2014 Meet our Residents: The Leifmans
Lives well-lived begin a new chapter
With two of their four children living nearby, Vera and Morton Leifman made the move from New York to Landow House this summer. Rabbi Morton M. Leifman was a vice president of the Jewish Theological Seminary and former dean of its cantorial school; his wife Vera, whose family escaped Germany in 1939, became an accomplished violinist and attorney. We welcome them to our campus, and share below a letter written by their son Ari.
Each of our residents can look back on a life filled with accomplishment, and the Leifmans are no exception. As a child who was disinterested in sports, Rabbi Leifman looks back with delight at the opportunity to master the High Holiday liturgy at age 15, guided over a summer by his synagogue’s rabbi and cantor. By 21, Leifman was earning joint degrees from New York University and the Jewish Theological Seminary, and filling a role as assistant rabbi at a Sephardic congregation in Brooklyn. His early career included US Army chaplain, first rabbi of Montreal’s Congregation Beth El, and director of the Seminary’s Jerusalem program. He also translated The Ineffable Name of God: Man: Poems in Yiddish and English, by Abraham Joshua Heschel.
Vera, a violinist, played with the Israel Radio Symphony from 1969 to 1973. When the couple returned to New York, she began law school, and as a litigation and matrimonial law attorney, became director of litigation in the Brooklyn unit of Legal Services Corporation, a federally-funded program that had a special mandate to provide legal counsel to impoverished Jews in the community.
At Landow House, the couple enjoys the company of their children, eight grandchildren, and two great-grandchildren, and they easily captivate listeners with their stories and their obvious affection after 52 years of marriage.