Raphael Ostrovsky

April 7, 1938 - May 3, 2020

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Funeral of Rabbi Raphael Ostrovsky – Tuesday, May 5, 2020

Graveside Service begins at 10am CDT; 8am PDT; 11am EDT; 6pm in Israel

Kneseth Israel Cemetery, Hammond, IN

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Kneseth Israel Cemetery
1648 167th Street
Hammond, Indiana 46324

Rabbi Raphael Ostrovsky, 82, of Munster, IN passed away on Sunday, May 3, 2020. He is survived by his wife of 25 years, Cynthia Ostrovsky; his son, Joel (Julie) Ostrovsky, his daughters, Barbara Ostrovsky and Cara Klausner; grandchildren, Mitchell, Sammi, Noa, Ari, Talia, Max, Elliana, Mason and Nathan; sisters, Diane (late Joel) Simon and JudyContinue Reading

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Susan Russo left a message on July 5, 2020:
You were such a kind-hearted person. I have thought of you often over the years. Today was another one of those days, only to find out you had passed away two months ago. I truly loved working with you at Congregation Kol Ami as your executive secretary. Absolutely loved typing your sermons. And loved our talks and miss them dearly. May you live on in everyone's hearts that you have touched!!
Jane Ellen Barron left a message on May 17, 2020:
5/17/20 Sunday 6:20pm. Our deepest sympathies. Remember me as I used to be. I will look on with a smile and remain in the hearts of all of you. Jane Barron Joelle & Jewel
Joel Ostrovsky left a message on May 14, 2020:
Dad's Eulogy May 5, 2020 – to Rabbi Raphael Ostrovsky from son, Joel Ostrovsky So, what can I say about my father? He was a great man he was loved by hundreds if not thousands of people during the course of his life. His love of Torah, his dedication and service to G-d, and the love & kindness he showed to his family, to his friends and to all who knew him has undoubtedly secured a place of honor for him in O'lam Ha-Bah (the world-to-come). I'm convinced that his tireless service towards others before himself encouraged G-d to extend his life beyond the original plan. You see, my father had a number of Secrets that he shared with very few because, to which many of you can attest, my father was not interested in sympathy or pity from anyone including his family or closest friends. So this next section is entitled the secret life of Rabbi O My father was born in Jerusalem with a serious heart condition called Wolf Parkinson's White which somewhat limited his physical activity. As an adult, scientific breakthroughs in medical technology advanced to the point where a procedure was available to remedy his condition. Unfortunately, it did not take long before he developed cardiomyopathy and congestive heart disease. Why am I telling you all this? Because according to his doctors, my father should have passed away over a decade ago. I remember having a serious conversation with him around 15 yrs ago. He wanted me to know that his cardiologist gave him 5 yrs, tops...even w/his new defibrillator and pacemaker implants. My point is that my father never had it easy, but he hid it, well. Never used his health as a reason to miss a wedding, bar mitzvah, or funeral. Never missed a sick call for a congregant or friend and always managed to lift their spirits with humor, Kah-vah-nah (dignity & honor), and heartfelt words of prayer. Simply said, My father LOVED being a Rabbi, took great pride in helping his fellow man, never let his health or well-being get in the way...And THIS is why I believe the almighty one -- Baruch Hashem (Praised be He), altered fate and kept him alive beyond his time. My father was G-d's gift to every one of us. On a lighter and more personal note, my father had more alias' than Billy the Kid. Sisters (Diane & Judy)-Rayfi, Israel family-Rahfi, Aba & Ima (your parents)-Rayfaleh, friends and in-laws--Raphael, best friend—(Sandy) Rahl-FEE, close friends in rabbinate-Ray, Hebrew name-r'FAH-yel, congregants-Rabbi, children-Aba or Dad, few called him Dr.(although he had 2 doctorates), Dr. Rabbi on formal salutations, 3 of your grandchildren-Noa, Ari, Sammi-Saba, 1 grandchild Mitchy who is nonverbal, calls my father by the only verbal name Mitch has ever enunciated..Ah'hem(sound of clearing his throat) together with the ASL sign for Saba, all 700 nieces and nephews, that Sharon represents-Uncle Rayfi, campers and students-Rabbi O, and then of course there was Hammer... this brings us to another Untold mystery in the secret life of Rabbi "O" aka Hammer. In the late 1970's, unbeknownst to most, with the exception of a few trusted agents, my father decided to engage in a new career path as a Polygraph Examiner. He went to school in Chicago during his off time at night for many months and eventually obtained certification as a licensed polygraph examiner. Why, because he and my mother Natalie decided it was finally time to move the family to Israel, and unfortunately, serving as a conservative rabbi in Israel in the 70's was not a viable career choice. Our neighbor in Hammond was an extremely successful polygraph examiner, and I guess my father assumed that since he was able to detect whenever his 3 children were lying to him before the words even left our mouths, he figured...what the heck...polygraph...sounds easy. Well it turned out he was a natural at screening young adults for pre-employment qualification-checks, and he never failed to politely but firmly hammer out confessions when he suspected lies after analyzing their responses, many times even without the help of the machine. Thus, among his classmates and instructors, the Hammer emerged. As fate would have it, plans for Aliyah to Yisroel (Israel) never quite materialized, but one can only guess how much more difficult life would become for his three junior and high school aged children, having to share a roof with a human lie-detector for a father! True that as Barb, Cara, and I got older, Dad expected more from us, but there was always time for laughter, teasing, playing games, and of course endless singing. Music from the various Hasidic song festivals, Shlomo Carlbach, Israeli folk songs, great hazanim (cantors) and traditional zmirot (songs) would greet anyone who found their way into my mother and father's home. And when we weren't singing, my father and I would find ourselves bent over a Chess, checkers, or monopoly board, trying futilely to catch each other cheating...I would be well into my early teens before I could beat him at anything... coincidentally that's around the time we stopped playing board games! And our Summers were always amazing, productive, educational, and memorable: The Jewish Layman's Institute, Camp Ramah, cross country travels...of course my Mom preferred the museums, but my father would always steal a day with us for a boat ride. No matter where we were in the country, we could be in the middle of a desert, you would somehow find a lake and a boat-rental shop. Guess now we all know that was merely a precursor for your future plans as a Cruise-ship Rabbi during your retirement years. Then of course our family trips to in which you led 97 teens on demanding tours of the country with your best friend, Sandy Cohen. I was always amazed at how everyone -- teenagers, adults, children -- all seemed to look up to you and to your leadership. I would often find myself somewhat envious of your congregants and students as they were monopolizing my father's time. But he always came home to us...always found a way to make us feel special. True, my father commanded a tight ship w/respect to religious observance, and Jewish studies, but his goal...simple, to instill his love for Torah & Judaism in his 3 children. Everyone else was just a bonus. My father's skills as a rabbi and community leader were unparalleled. He never left anyone out, never forgot an honor or announcement, always remembered to appreciate volunteers, and did whatever necessary to make every man, woman, and child feel special and welcome under his roof, but always within the context of Rabbinical Assembly and United Synagogue guidelines. He painstakingly crafted and rehearsed his sermons to the point where my sisters and I knew what room and hallways in the house to avoid on Friday afternoon, for fear that we might be his next experimental audience for his latest work...But my father knew exactly what to say to bring everyone together. There were no "party lines" during his Divrey Torah (i.e., studies of The Law from the Five Books of Moses). No dissenting opinions...mostly. And throughout his services, anyone who wanted a part...even those who didn't, got one. Used to make me crazy, but I later realized the wisdom of my father's actions. He was making others feel comfortable and included, davening in his Shull...transforming a house of worship for congregants into a spiritual home for his family. And my father treated EVERYONE like family. On Studying with my father...for those who don't know, (which is impossible if u know my father), he was the ultimate perfectionist. Needless to say, my bar mitzvah...very demanding times! "You will start a year early, you will learn every note, word, and vowel in all 7 Aliyot perfectly! " After shull, and when Kiddush was over, I would sadly walk back into the torture chamber on the pulpit where he was waiting for me.. our bar mitzvah sessions seldom ended happy. But.. He ensured my Torah chant was perfect...and haftorah was perfect, and that I would be able to p/u any haftorah in the future, and chant on sight. And when the time came for my Bar Mitzvah, I was confident, ready, and proud of what he made me accomplish. Years later, I was gratified to watch him work with my daughter, Sammi. I do remember her tearing up occasionally during a lesson with him...usually on the phone....I would pretend to sympathize but under my breadth I remember chuckling....been there, done that, Sammi...I would think to myself. Sammi had very special bond with her Saba. They would laugh and play and sing together for hours and hours. Watching he and Sammi share time together, would always bring back memories of my grandfather (Saba O) and how he and I shared a different but very special relationship decades earlier. My Aba had become his father, and my baby girl was just like me. Sad to think that all either of us have left of our Sabas are memories. Cherish those memories, Sammi. They will continue to make you stronger and wiser. Building a foundation with his grandson, Mitch was slightly more of a struggle for my father. He always took great pride in his grandson's achievements, but communication with a non-verbal child challenged him, as signing did not come easily for my father. But as the years went by, the 2 of them began to find their own common ground. It started around the time of Mitchy's Bar Mitzvah...he had a new favorite place....the shull (the synagogue)...and a new favorite activity...davening (or praying), especially with t`fillin. And from then on, my father and my son started growing together and learning from each other, as they both realized that they shared a strong devotion to t'fillah, Torah, and Hashem and that the Bet Knesset was their happy place, together. Dad, you'd be proud of Mitch, since the pandemic, he's been davening and putting on t'fillin every weekday with our Temple Beth Shalom zoom minyan. In fact, he listens to recorded services from Kabbalat Shabbat, Shaharit, and Musaf throughout the day at full volume. To the point where maybe now you can periodically come down and whisper in his ear...Dayenu (enough)?!!! I will end with a line from Psalms 119.97. A small piece of paper in a folder I found yesterday buried in my file cabinet..definitely your handwriting, line...with my son's name (מרדכי) written above it. Definitely a sentiment I could hear you pronouncing. Maybe your parting words of wisdom to my son, Mordechai, and a bonus to everyone else. מה אהבתי תורתך! כל היום היא שיחתי Oh, how I love your Torah, all day it is my discussion! I Love you Dad, always. Rest in peace, you've earned it. ...Joel
Maxine and Burton Dechter left a message on May 9, 2020:
Heartfelt condolences to your family. My husband and I had the pleasure of spending time with Rabbi Raphael and Cynthia on the Maasdam during the Passover season of 2017. Aside from presiding over the most memorable seder of our lives, I had the pleasure of hours of one on one conversation with one of the most insightful, kind souls I have had the pleasure to meet. Our connection made a huge, lasting impression on my life, as I am sure he has made on many. Heartfelt sympathy and love
Maxine and Burton Dechter left a message on May 9, 2020:
Heartfelt condolences to your family. My husband and I had the pleasure of spending time with Rabbi Raphael and Cynthia on the Maasdam during the Passover season of 2017. Aside from presiding over the most memorable seder of our lives, I had the pleasure of hours of one on one conversation with one of the most insightful, kind souls I have had the pleasure to meet. Our connection made a huge, lasting impression on my life, as I am sure he has made on many. Heartfelt sympathy and love
Peace of mind is a call away. We’re here when you need us most.
Sydell Miller left a message on May 8, 2020:
Cynthia, my heart breaks for you and your loss. When you came to Las Vegas, NV it was always such a pleasure to see you both at Temple Beth Sholom and we so enjoyed the Retied Rabbis cruise we took with you. Raphael was such a gracious person. Rabbi Hershel Brooks and he always had great conversations and now they are both in Heaven. Love and Hugs to you. Sydell Merl Miller
Rosalie Steiner-Ruff left a message on May 6, 2020:
Dear Cynthia and everyone who knew Rabbi Ostrovsky, Please accept my deepest condolences. Rabbi Ostrovsky was very special to my family and me. He always had a kind smile and was cheerful and encouraging. I continue to remember his wise words through the years. I am grateful that he was present in my life. Sincerely, Rosalie Steiner-Ruff
Debbie Stricoff left a message on May 5, 2020:
Sending love and prayers
Judy Schiller left a message on May 5, 2020:
I am so sorry to hear this. I loved Rabbi O as he let us call him. I went to Israel on a teen tour in the Summer of 1973 with the Forest Hills Jewish Center. After the Summer since I came from a kosher home I then became the family babysitter as he and Cynthia knew I would not mess up the dishes. Rabbi O was always on a diet. He would ask me if I wanted ice cream. I always said yes and we would go to Ed’s Ice Cream Parlor. I sat in the first row when I attended Shabbat services. I was so sad when he left the Forest Hills Jewish Center.
Judy Schiller left a message on May 5, 2020:
I am so sorry to hear this. I loved Rabbi O as he let us call him. I went to Israel on a teen tour in the Summer of 1973 with the Forest Hills Jewish Center. After the Summer since I came from a kosher home I then became the family babysitter as he and Cynthia knew I would not mess up the dishes. Rabbi O was always on a diet. He would ask me if I wanted ice cream. I always said yes and we would go to Ed’s Ice Cream Parlor. I sat in the first row when I attended Shabbat services. I was so sad when he left the Forest Hills Jewish Center.
Rabbi Robin Damsky left a message on May 5, 2020:
Dear Cynthia, I am so sorry for your loss. I was struck with a deep sadness in learning of Ray's death. He was such a dear colleague to me, treating me with the greatest kindness and respect. I am on the Zoom shiva this evening with you and so many others who love you and loved Raphael. I want you to know that my heart is with you in this time of loss. Would I could be there I would give you a deep hug. May God comfort you. Zichrono livrakhah - I know that Ray's memory will be for a blessing. Robin Damsky
Lee Weisbord left a message on May 5, 2020:
Rabbi O. Will always hold a special place in my heart. I first met him when he became the assistant rabbi at Forest Hills J.C. I was a very shy child, but Rabbi O’s warmth and friendliness made me feel welcome at shul. When my friend Alice and I were older, we vyed for the privilege of pushing baby Cara’s carriage down Austin Street. Rabbi O. brought the college club ATID to FHJC. I was 17 and a freshman at NYU. it was at ATID that I met Joey Weisbord. Rabbi O. teased us. He said if we gave him credit for the match (shitach) he would officiat at our wedding. On May 25, 1974 he did! We lost touch over the years when he moved away. Like a gift, Rabbi O. re-entered our lives. His warmth, wit and caring had grown over the 30+ years. We were privileged to meet his lovely wife, Cynthia. In an unexpected twist, Rabbi O officiated at our grandson’s bris in 2012. He found it interesting that our daughter, the baby’s mother, was also named Cara. We will forever treasure his memory. May his neshama make Aliyah.
Rachel Zohar left a message on May 5, 2020:
משתתפת בצער המשפחה זכיתי להכיר את רפי בן הדודה של בעלי לשעבר יוסי זוהר. אהבתי אותו את חוש ההומור שלו את הסיפרים המעניינים ואת הפיצה הכי טובה שאכלנו ביחד בהמונד לפני כ 40 שנה. יהי זכרו ברוך.
Douglas & Marjorie Friedman left a message on May 5, 2020:
Our thoughts and prayers are with you and your family. Raphael will be missed. I remember teaching him how to use his phone and connecting his phone to his car, multiple times. We are both sunbird/snowbirds and spent many mornings while in Las Vegas discussing family, politics, stocks, and god (Not necessarily in that order). I offered to drive him to Minyan ever morning, however, he never wanted to inconvenience me and wanted his independence. He will be missed! Love to the family. We are here for ya'all!
Ruby Hilker left a message on May 5, 2020:
Deepest condolences to Cynthia and the entire family. We were so sad to hear of your great loss. Rabbi Ostrovsky was a wonderful, kind, charismatic man as well as a learned, caring spiritual leader. His smile could light up a room. He and Cynthia were a blessing to our family, and we will always be grateful for his mentorship of Rachel and for taking our family into his heart. Attending his Shabbat and holiday services, sharing long talks and sharing meals with him and Cynthia will always be among out fondest, cherished memories. May his memory be for a blessing.
Amanda (Pogach) Panaccione left a message on May 5, 2020:
I was heartbroken to find about Rabbi’s passing. Throughout my life, he has been one of my biggest supporters and advocates. He officiated every milestone for my family, including my parents wedding, my baby naming, my Bat Mitzvah, and my own wedding. I remember telling him at my Bat Mitzvah that I wanted him to be the one to officiate my wedding. I am so honored, that after so many years, my wish was granted. I could not have imagined a more special and wonderful ceremony. When I was in high school, Rabbi would very excitedly approach me with different songs that he wanted me to learn to sing for High Holy Day services. He found beautiful arrangements, and I was happy to learn them. To this day, I volunteer to sing those same songs every year for High Holy Day services, no matter where in the world I am. The summer after I graduated high school, he hosted the Summer of Variety concert where Rachel Hilker and I performed a collection of solos and duets at CBI to raise money to build the new synagogue. That concert (and the sequel the following year) was truly unforgettable. Every time I spoke with Rabbi since then, he would make sure I knew that he still had the picture of him, me, and Rachael on his desk. He would also make sure that anyone I ever introduced him to knew exactly how much money we raised for the synagogue with those concerts. He announced it at our Ketubah signing, the wedding ceremony, and I think to each attendee individually as well. He was always so proud of our accomplishments. Before my Grandma Netty's 100th birthday, Rabbi came by to see her, say a special prayer wishing her another 100 years, and give her a special gift. He also wrote her a beautiful certificate of honor. My Grandma was overjoyed. My family and I will miss Rabbi Ostrovsky greatly. Our Sincerest Condolences.
Lewis Kass left a message on May 4, 2020:
Dear Ostrovsky Family, I learned tonight from my father Alvin Kass, about Rabbi Ostrovsky’s passing. I am so, so sorry. My father asked if I remembered a weekend he and I spent in your home. My response: I sure do! Best weekend ever! Wonderful memories from over 40 years ago hanging out with Joel; playing some improv basketball game in the basement with stacked cardboard boxes. Genius!!! The entire family could not have been more welcoming, warm, loving and kind. I wish you peace and comfort. Fondly, Lewis
The Fromm Family left a message on May 4, 2020:
We were very saddened to learn of this news. My father always spoke warmly of Rabbi and so enjoyed kibitzing with him at all the morning minyans of days gone by. Our sincere condolences to the entire family. Fondly, Eileen Fromm and Gayle Alderson
Rabbi Mitchell Kornspan left a message on May 4, 2020:
Dear Cynthia and family, Penny and I join you, your family, friends and congregation in mourning the passing of Rabbi. Being new to this area, we found Rabbi so friendly and caring. I loved his stories, his amazing smile and beautiful personality. When you talked with him,you felt that you were the focus of his attention and fondness. We send you our heartfelt condolences. May his memory always be a blessing.
SAM AN CATHY COLTUN left a message on May 4, 2020:
Peace of mind is a call away. We’re here when you need us most.
Beth and Tamas left a message on May 4, 2020:
Dear Cyndi, Tom and I are deeply saddened to hear of Rabbi's passing. Our sincere condolences go out to you and your family. We will always remember Rabbi's warmth and kindness and of course his presence at so many of our family occasions over the past 40 plus years, both happy and sad. You are very much in our thoughts and prayers during this difficult time. Love, Beth and Tamas Kutas
Harriet & Warren Siegel left a message on May 4, 2020:
He was a very special person. We loved him when he became our Rabbi @ Bellmore Jewish Center. He warmed our hearts & he was very spiritú al. He will be missed. Sending our love to Cynthia & the family. Love, Harriet and Warren Siegel
Yoel & Miriam Silberberg left a message on May 4, 2020:
A sorrowful time for us my family. His smile will forever be remembered. It lit up the room. May we only only share in simchot. HaMakom yenachem et'chem b'toch shar avay'lay Tzion vee'Yerushalayim. May the Omnipresent comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem. Your cousins The family of Yoel & Miriam Silberberg
Alyssa Spungen left a message on May 4, 2020:
I attended his congregation when I was a little girl, with my family. I remember him being very kind and having a soothing voice. I'm saddened to hear about this, and upon reflection, wish I would've taken more time to know him better. As a girl, I didn't really understand or have the spiritual connection to Judaism that I am seeking now in my adult life. I do remember his beautiful smile though and I will light a candle for him today and honor his legacy as I continue to seek a deeper connection with my roots.
Lea Merrill Davidson-Bern and family left a message on May 4, 2020:
We are so saddened to hear of this profound loss to the world. We loved Rabbi so very much and were so very fortunate to have him in our lives. Endless love, time, interest and genuine concern for all of us meant so much to all of us, especially Avi. Memories of him in our sukkah, sharing triumphs and setbacks in our collective lives and his wicked silly sense of humor fill our thoughts. May His Memory Always Be For A Blessing. Our thoughts and prayers with all of you, especially his Beloved Cynthia.
David and Linda Lakin left a message on May 4, 2020:
Rabbi O along with Cynthia were such a big part of the Lakin family and all of us were blessed having him in our lives for so many fond memories for 30 plus years. He will be deeply missed. My sincere condolences to all of the families.
Craig B Spungen left a message on May 4, 2020:
Like many others, Rabbi presided over our marriage. In fact, I believe it was the first one he did - May 1981. Always a good listener, a caring soul, and was always there when you needed comfort. Will be missed.
Merle Rose left a message on May 4, 2020:
Always charming, youthful, adorable Ray was part of our early marriage and parenthood. A cousin by marriage, Ray (and Natalie) moved close to us in Forest Hills, where he was assistant rabbi to an esteemed scholar/rabbi. Ray had strong values that effected everyone in his life, especially his children. His long connection to his synagogue in Hammond is in itself a tribute to him. To his children and grandchildren, to his wife, we send our sincere condolences.
Sartov Gal left a message on May 4, 2020:
In memory of Raphael Ostrovsky, Sartov Gal lit a candle
Jeff and Barb left a message on May 4, 2020:
Raphael was a warm, intelligent and loving human being. He will always be in our thoughts. We were especially touched that he performed our wedding ceremony. He was a loving caring husband to our dear Cynthia. Love Jeff and Barb
Dalayn Barling left a message on May 4, 2020:
So sorry for your loss
Sandra L. Johnson left a message on May 4, 2020:
Dear Cynthia, May the memories find you and comfort you at this difficult time! We will all be praying for you and your family ,
Kish Funeral Home left a message:
Please accept our deepest condolences for your family's loss.
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