Wednesday, September 06, 2006


Abe Lebewohl Park Dedicated

Famed 2nd Avenue Deli Man Remembered in Playground
by Wally Dobelis

The many friends of the late Abie Lebewohl will be glad to know that a little part of his belowed East Side will be forever his. This was Abie's sacred land, this piece of Flanders, as the cannon-fodder Word War One poets spoke of the country where they died. Because he too was cannon fodder in the battle for his turf, between the forces of crime and the forces of decency. He tried to keep it nice, caring, community serving. But for the criminals he was just another piece of meat. When, oh when, will we come back to being a community!

The City Council of New York has provided $84,000 in capital funds to facilitate the Parks and Recreation Department's restructuring the triangle in front of St. Mark's in the Bowery, re-laying the cobblestones dating back to ages before Abie, rebuilding the sidewalk, adding new benches, lighting and foliage. This will now be the Abe Lebewohl Park, 10th Street and 2nd Avenue, Manhattan, forever and ever.

The dedication ceremonies took place on Thursday, October 17, 1996 at 1:30 PM. The invocation was given by Rabbi Daniel Alder of the Brotherhood Synagogue, and the proceedings were led by Commissioner Henry J. Stern. Councilman Antonio Pagan spoke movingly of the the encouragement Abie gave him to run for City Council. Abe's daughter Sharon spoke of her and the children bonding with the homeless at the park. Hundreds of people packed the narrow spaces available for attendees. Notable were the Satmar Hassidim, to whom the Abe Lebewohl Foundation (c/o Community Synagogue, 325 E. 6th Street) gave a Hatzolah ambulance to help the sick of this and other neighborhoods.

There is a Friends of Abe Lebewohl Park group, run by Marilyn Appleberg of the CB#3. The address is Box 473, 200 East 10th Street, 10003, in the process of getting a 501 taxfree status. Keep in touch.

Abe was born in Ukraine, 1931. The family survived the Holocaust, went to Italy and came to the USA in 1950. The 12-seat deli Abe opened expanded into a 250-seat restaurant on 10th street and 2nd Avenue. The resataurant prospered and Abe gave back to the neighbotrhood, food for the homeless and for neighborhood events; he would get into the truck and deliver packages to individual indigents. On March 4, 1996, while taking the weekend's receipts to the bank, he was struck down by a robber's bullet. The police are still searching for the murderer.

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