A Blessing on the Way
In the Jewish religion, funerals generally take place within 24 hours of death. That leaves little time for writing eulogies, or ruminating on the special meaning of a life. But Andrew Zucker's family had the better part of five weeks to prepare, waiting for the Jewish holy days to pass and for a ruling from a rabbinical council as to whether an orthodox funeral could take place without a body.
During those weeks, Mr. Zucker's siblings, parents and friends huddled at the home of a brother, Stuart Zucker, on Long Island. A similar vigil took place in Riverdale, N.Y., for Mr. Zucker's wife, Erica. When it was finally time to remember Andrew, 28, a new associate at the law firm of Harris Beach, 1,500 people swarmed the Riverdale Jewish Center.
By then the Zuckers had figured out that Mr. Zucker remained in touch with virtually everyone he had ever known. High school classmates came. So did members of his Chabad group at the State Univeristy of New York at Binghamton and his law school class at Cardozo. There were worshippers from the synagogue where Mr. Zucker prayed every morning before work. And Harris Beach colleagues, who said they were alive because of his help.
In those weeks, Erica, 25, had also shared a secret with her parents and her husband's family. A baby is expected in March. Last April, an earlier pregnancy had ended in a still birth. The family gasped at the news and then saw it might be a blessing. Stuart is assembling a photo album so there will be "something to show this baby."
Profile published in THE NEW YORK TIMES on October 29, 2001.