Eulogy for Dr. Ernest H. Halpern Friday, June 3, 2011 Yisrael Chaim ben Mendel
We are here to pay a final tribute to our very devoted member and friend Dr. Ernest Halpern. Husband of Marilyn, father of Ytta, Ethan and Micah and their families, grandfather of Susanna and Sheumel.
A week ago on Sunday, at Kneseth Israel Lag B’Omer celebration, Dr. Halpern approached me saying: "Rabbi, the doctors gave me a short time to live and I have so much yet to do especially with my family and friends."
"You do want you can and we will pray for the best" I responded.
The center of Ernie’s life was his family - first and foremost was his love for his wife-Marilyn. Not only were they married for 56 years which in and of itself speaks volumes about the amazing relationship and bond that they shared but they were also best friends. No night was too long or a day too short for Marilyn to be at Ernie’s side. Marilyn is an Eshet Chail, which in Hebrew means woman of valor, a righteous woman. How blessed were they to be married for 56 years. Now parting and saying goodbye is more difficult. And yet we know that Ernie would be proud to know that you, Marilyn, will carry on with dignity. It is rare in our society today that two people are united in life’s journey as partners for such a long time and what a blessing it was! This is a legacy that they have created and given to all of us. Marilyn and Ernie did much together. Not only did they raise their sons and daughter but had a special relationship with each other. He was a very devoted husband, father, grandfather and friend. Some even call him one of the great men of the 20th century.
My dear friends, today is Rosh Chodesh Sivan which marks the final preparations for the festival of giving the Torah – Shavuot. Our sages teach us that our Torah is like water. The water is the absolute necessity for life however in order to have the gift of Torah a person must humble himself and Dr. Halpern who was called by many a paragon of humbleness and good heart. Furthermore, it is recorded in our history that today the waters of the biblical mabul – the great flood receded which I think is a parallel in many ways to Dr. Halpern who returns today to Olam Haba to the next world.
Dr. Halpern was more then just a humble man; he was a great defender of this country, Israel, and a world class scientist. Many thousands of men like Ernie committed an unyielding effort to defeat the greatest enemy of the US and Israel, the Evil Empire of the Soviet Union. After many decades of unflagging effort, the wall fell and the Soviet Union is no longer in existence, greatly helping Israel’s chances to grow as a nation and making us here in the US safer. As a scientist, among many accomplishments and scholarly works published, he was an early researcher and world expert in the area of superconductivity. This force of nature decades later is touching us all in MRI machines, power systems, and now even train lines. As time moves on it will find its way into every electrical device we use. He never sought accolades, and an example of this was illustrated by one of his close friends who said that he approached him saying: "Ernie, your scientific work was brilliant… you really deserved to receive a noble prize for high temperature superconductivity." Dr. Halpern responded: "Well…so some guys from Switzerland got it…so what? What does a plaque on wall mean? Why get all worked up? I’d rather be a happy man and not worry about such things."
His attitude was amazing…and it takes more than money, hard work, goals and effort to get and keep the Jewish values and family together. He was a patriarch and a role model for many. His devotion to his family particularly to his granddaughter Susanna was incredible. The love and dedication he received back from his family was a shining example to all of us.
Eli Weisel said and I quote:"Death ends life but not relationships." We hope that we the family and many friends will continue his noble legacy with true dedication to our faith, to our values, to fighting terrorism and supporting our beloved state of Israel and many causes. Ernie was loved by so many because he loved people. I'll miss you Ernie. I'll miss you not only as my congregant but also as my friend.
May Dr. Ernest Halpern’s legacy and good will live on in the hearts of his dear family and friends. We pray that his fine name, kind deeds and beautiful values will live on. May his eternal soul ascend to heaven and rest in peace forevermore. Amen.
The Shivah Minyans will be observed at the Halpern’s home at 1309 Van Buren Drive, Annapolis, Sunday and Monday at 7 PM.