For a majority of the more than 635 people who filled the Boulevard-Riverside chapel in Hewlett on Aug. 11 it was a day of double anguish.
Last Sunday was Tisha B’Av, a Jewish holiday that marks the tragic events in the religion’s history, and it was when all said goodbye to Barbra Barth Feldman who died of cancer on Aug. 8. The lifelong Five Towner and Hewlett Neck resident was 54.
Rabbi Jay Rosenbaum, said he knew Feldman for 42 years, “She was one of my students,” he told the Herald before he officiated the 30-minute funeral service, and made the connection between her death and Tisha B’Av. “We mourn her loss,” Rosenbaum said, “and then we have a choice to take the pain of this tragic loss of life and to remember Barbra with smiles and laughter.”
Feldman’s son, Andrew, 17, began that journey for the mourners. A showstopper in his own right as the title star of the Broadway show “Dear Evan Hansen.” Andrew’s observation that the capacity audience which included standees, who rung the chapel, looked like a “sell out” elicited laughter that did not stop as he launched into a story that illustrated Feldman at her motherly best on “Force Friday.”
Coinciding with the mother and son’s annual trip to Walt Disney World the movie “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” was about to premiere when Andrew was 13, and the theme park was holding “Force Friday” at midnight in the “farthest regions of Disney Springs.”
“There was a miles long line and all we would do is spend a crazy amount of money on things that I would go on to never use or would break within months,” Andrew said. “This was probably Barbra Barth Feldman’s worst nightmare. Instead of shooting me down immediately she looked at me, sighed, and said we would get in line and see what happens.”
He said his mother’s frustrated mounted as time passed and she delivered her famous “I must really love you,” line. “I knew when she was mad at me because her nostrils would flare up and she would be unable to make direct eye contact with me for a prolonged period of time. Her nostrils were very flared and she was not looking. I gave my usual we don’t have to do this if you don’t want to, I didn’t always mean that when I said it. This time I really did mean it. After a few times, she finally said, ‘Stop saying that or we really are leaving.’” Mourners roiled with laughter.
“At midnight the line began to move slowly but surely,” he said. We didn’t enter the store until closer to 2:30 a.m. If my mother was here she would tell you it was closer to 3. She would probably be correct. I don’t remember the exact amount, but I’m pretty sure I spent around $300 to $500 on Star Wars stuff. If my mother was here she would tell you it was closer to a $1,000 She would probably be correct.” More laughter.
Feldman, a 1982 Lawrence Woodmere Academy graduate, was named head of school in January. Before that she was the director of the academy’s summer camp since 2010. Feldman earned an undergraduate degree from Brandeis University in 1986 and a law degree from Hofstra Law School three years later. She also worked in the Hewlett-Woodmere School District and volunteered with the PTA.
“She epitomized LWA, she was a tremendous person of character, her soul was pure, we love her and we’ll miss her,” Jay Arnow, a board member for the Woodmere private school, told the Herald on Aug. 9.
She was interred at Beth Moses Cemetery in Farmingdale.
Her family requested that donations in her name could be made to Next for Autism at nextforautism.org or mail to Next for Autism, 1430 Broadway, 8th Floor, New York, N.Y. 10018.