In Memory of our cousin, brother, uncle, friend, teacher

Jeffrey Warren Etkind (8/3/49 - 9/17/16)

    Jeffrey Warren Etkind, Age 67 of Elmira, died on Saturday, September 17, 2016. Jeffrey was born on August 3, 1949 to the late Irving & Lillian (Rubenstein) Etkind. He is survived by his sister and brother-in-law, Debra & Jim Shmerling of Hartford, CT and Nashville, TN; nieces and nephews, Marc (Theresa) Shmerling of Richmond, TX, Phillip (Laura) Shmerling of Nashville, TN, Bryna Shmerling of Washington, DC, Erin (Alex) Brock of Palm Beach Gardens, FL; great nieces and nephews, Dylan Hoge, Lydia Hoge, Ayla Shmerling, Samuel Shmerling and Jacob Shmerling. Jeffrey attended Elmira Free Academy and SUNY Albany where he received his BS and MS degrees. He was a retired teacher from the Elmira and Horseheads school systems and was a substitute teacher throughout Elmira schools. Jeffrey also taught Hebrew School for 36 years at Congregation Kol Ami formerly Congregation Shomray Haddath. He was a member and on the board of directors of the Jewish Community Center, Congregation Kol Ami and served on the Elmira Free Academy 1967 Class Reunion Committee. Jeffrey's hobbies were playing golf, music, record and movie collector, traveling and spending time with his family. FUNERAL SERVICES WERE HELD IN CONGREGATION KOL AMI 1008 W. WATER ST. ELMIRA, ON THURSDAY, SEPTEMBER 22, 2016 AT 1:00PM. RABBI OREN STEINITZ, PH. D. OFFICIATING. INTERMENT TO FOLLOW IN FRANKLIN STREET CEMETERY, ELMIRA. In lieu of flowers, those wishing may make memorial donations in Jeffrey's memory to Congregation Kol Ami, the Jewish Community Center 1008 W. Water St. Elmira, NY 14905 or to Abe's Garden 115 Woodmont Blvd, Nashville, TN 37205.  Published in Star-Gazette from Sept. 20 to Sept. 22, 2016    


My very unique and special first cousin, Jeffrey Etkind, of Elmira, N.Y. has just passed away suddenly and unexpectantly. It's a huge blow to our entire family. Jeff was a huge pop music enthusiast, he knew everything there was about the people and their music. Everytime American Idol came back on TV he would email me long very detailed letters about the contestants and who he thought would win, and in what order they would last on the show. This went on for years, we would email back and forth with our favorites. He always kept in touch with me over the years about how all these people were doing out in the world of their music. And anytime anyone needed a cd made, he was the one to do it. We are still in a state of shock that he has passed away. Jeffrey, I miss you already, I can't imagine any family reunion without you there, you made it to them all. This is a loss for so many. I hope the music up there is your type of music. Love you Jeff Etkind. Thanks for a lifetime of memories.

Val O'Connor


Dear Jeff, Taken too early from his life. You will shine brightly in heaven. Music will follow wherever you go. You will be greatly missed.

Love, Aunt Eileen


Jim Shmerling's Eulogy to Jeff (click into link)


Today is sure to be a rough day. Today we say goodbye to a coworker, mentor and friend, Mr. Jeff Etkind. Thank you for your 36 years of dedicated service to the Jewish Community School. We have lost a true leader, educator and mensch. RIP Jeff. Your legacy, kindness and love will forever be maintained in the JCS, and the entire community at large. Jeffrey Andrew Rosenheck



For Jeff Etkind (1949-2016)


They left us with their most precious treasure. Us, the first cousins,

A symphony of Rubenstein grandchildren. We boomed into existence,

Became curious, searched for our callings. We were all youth

Together, on the stoops of the Bronx visiting Grandma Rose

And Grandpa Joe, and splashing in the Catskills, joyous in celebrating

Family and birthdays and anniversaries and weddings.

How we all danced and swam and squirmed into adulthood.

You held to the profound mysteries of our ancient religion,

Davening every morning with your tefillin, and

Teaching Hebrew for 36 years.

You made us CDs with the music we love, shared

Commentary on culture and explored the challenges of golf.

Your students say you taught by example, how you lived with respect for all.

They say they remember you, the substitute teacher, more than the

Permanent ones.


You are permanent for me. You leave us unbalanced, your smile

Glowing, the turn of your head. How well you could hug. The circle is now

Broken. Who knew you would be the one to blaze a path for us as did

Your mother for our parents. Who knew you’d become our leader,

Our guide, show us the way. We’ll hold this space for you here,

Just as you hold ours there.


Thea Iberall






  We are so sad to lose Cousin Jeffrey. He spent many months in Cleveland Clinic in Ohio and we visited him everyday. Brigit and her older sister Mary Grace came with me and we kept him company and full of laughs. We will dearly miss the wonderfully, kind and generous guy. He made endless CD's for the girls and me and was much appreciated. Our love goes with him.

  Penni and Rich, Brigit and Mary, Jami and Rory, and Melanie Rubin



Cynthia Huling Hummel's Eulogy to Jeff (click into link)


Prayers and condolences. Stephen Wickman, Sodus

So sorry my sympathy to the family, Cousin Elaine & Family Elaine Rajswasser, Ocala,, FL



Tribute to my Cuz Jeff Etkind

I am one of only a few of you many loving cousins that can say that I knew you all of your life. As teens we played a game of each picking a song from the top 100 hits list and  bet (for fun) who's song would rise the highest. You won most of the time proving that your ear for great music would  last a lifetime. Thru the years you provided a countless number of homemade CD's for friends, neighbors, family,

Students, and probably strangers. The last CD you made for me included the song" I loved her first" which I chose as my father/daughter dance with cousin IRICKA Tully. You and that song will last in my heart, forever !

Before I began my tribute to you I had the pleasure of reading cousin Val O'Connor's Beautiful memorial site to you. The consistent theme throughout the comments were that you were loving, kind, generous, thoughtful, selfless, dedicated educator, mensch, community leader and all around NICE GUY. From everything you did, you will be remembered for generations to come. We love you little cuz.

Ray & Linda Berlinger





  It so hard to accept that Jeff has Passed on. As they say bad things obviously sometimes happen to good people. Jeff was one of the sweetest people I know. He was always loving and kind to everyone he met. In his own unique way he touched so many lives. Through his CDs, Lollypops and other assorted sweets he connected with our entire family.....our children will have lifelong memories of whenever Jeff came to town. He attended every affair, always had a big smile and warm heart and will be missed terribly.

Liz, Rich, Dylan and Sean




Whether a family reunion, bar or bat mitzvah, wedding or any family get together - Jeff was there. Always putting everyone before himself. I will miss his yearly birthday phone calls during which he always asked about his cousins and my mom. Looking back at some pictures, I see his very sincere great smile that speaks for itself. He was one of the most caring, thoughtful, generous people I have known. Jeff will live on through everyone who was fortunate enough to have known him. We will keep him alive in our memories.  Andy Fios                                                                  

With Love, Debbie, Andy, Jason and Nina


Sorry to hear of Jeff's passing. Shared homeroom way back when, quiet pleasant presence about him. John Diello  Lexington, Ky

Jeff was my next door neighbor. He was a kind (ET Kind) and gentle soul. His love and compassion for children was apparent to all who knew him. He made a lot of snow cones and cds of music for so many. I so sorry that I wasn't able to get back to New York for a visit.
Love and prayers go out to his family. Rest well sweet friend.
With love, Kami and the whole Stone family, Kami Rose, Skykomish, WA

Jeff was very good to our mom Polly. And yes, he was very gentle and kind. Ace Leveen

To the Family...I've Known Jeff For about 25 Years..I lived Across the Street For about 20 Years...He was always so nice to everyone..Also when my Brother Passed Away Last Month Jeff came to my Brothers Funeral and Jeff got up and Spoke at My Brothers Funeral..My Brother Darryl did All Jeff's Yard work for the last 6 years..It Just Won't Seem The Same On Clinton Street..Also When Jeff Got His New Car he was Showing it to me and he was So Happy..RIP::Jeff...

Shiela Stahle, Elmira, NY



Jeff - you were the steady voice of kindness. I have been honored to know you all my life, my gentle cousin. I learned from you about Hebrew, about music, about life. I will miss you. My heart goes out to your family.
Thea iberall, Millis, MA
Such a great guy, he was the kindest teacher that I remember from my school days and that is saying a lot since I left Elmira in 1989! He definitely made an impression that has lasted for decades. RIP Mr Etkind.
Roxanne Martinez, Mesa, AZ

RIP Mr. Etkind. The Moss's remember you.



Dear Debbie and family , For the 32 years I have known cousin Jeffrey , he made me feel like a real blood cousin and valued Etkind family member . Always smiling and of good humour , He was a bright light in this sometime grim world of ours . Supportive of any family occasion , he was genuinely positive and thrilled of any achievement of Amanda . Alan or myself . He had such a generous and light heart ... It is very sad he has left us much too soon . We will always remember him and all that he represented : love of family , Love of life . Thinking of you all with deepest sympathy .

Madelyn (Alan and Amanda ) Madelyn Etkind, Williston Park, NY

Mr Etkind was the kindest smartest and most understanding of all the teachers that helped me. He taught me that respect was mutual and a substitute teacher didn't have to discipline when respect was freely shared. This taught me more than any book can teach. And even when we crossed paths later after high school and he wanted to be Jeff he was still Mr. Etkind to me. Thank you Jeff for showing me that to command respect you do not have to command, you simply have to respect. I will forever call you friend but will remember you as a teacher who taught me to teach through example and live life with respect for all. So sad to hear you passed. Please know your actions did change at least one person's life, and who could ask for more? Kevin Keough, Pompano beach, FL

Mr Etkind was one of the nicest people I have ever met. He will be dearly missed. RIP. Alan Cecce, Elmira, NY

Mr Etkind was my favorite teacher. He taught my history class back in 1995, he was my role model, he developed my love for history and so much more. Every time we ran into each other through the years he always smiled with open arms for a hug. He will be deeply missed. Michelle Cook-Pronti, Elmira, NY



Cousin, friend & real mensch. In our thoughts and prayers. Rest in peace. Ira Brass

R.I.P. Mr. Etkind. You always had a smile even when you knew us kids weren't going to make it easy for you. What a great man!  Kris Manns, Elmira Heights, NY

I am so sorry for your loss. Mr. Etkind was more of a teacher than a substitute to all of us at Broadway and Southside High School. Even 30 years later, he remembered me which I thought was awesome. My thoughts and prayers for his family as you say goodbye for now. Beth Gennosa Smith, Corning, NY

Jeff was a warm and kind person, and will be missed. May his memory be a blessing. My condolences to Jeff's family and friends. Amy Leveen, Bronx, NY
My deepest condolences on the loss of Mr. Etkind. He was a wonderful person, a great mentor, and a friend. The world will not be the same without him.
Aaron Wiesner, Elmira, NY




  Today I lost someone very important to me, he was my cousin. He was always there no matter what. He was caring compassionate funny all around a wonderful person one of the best. He cared so much for others that he went out of his way to help anyone he could. There were 2 summers I spent some time with him where he was the best host. I was looking forward to returning the favor. I was hoping to take a trip soon to show him his new little cousin who I know he would have loved. Jeff your are the most selfless person I know and I'm so happy you are part of who I am. Now your just able to help more people at a time as a guardian angel. I love you so much.

With love your little cousin,  Crystal Martin

Mr Etkind was one of a kind he really touched kids hearts and as a former student I knew I could always count on him. He will be greatly missed by all who knew him. Thank you Mr. Etkind for all that you were at all that you did. I will never forget you!!
Mindy Haight, Elmira, NY



1954 Rockaway Beach. Lillian, Debbie, Marion, Joyce, Darrel, Helen, Jeffrey, Liz, Sophia, Raymond










Our hearts are broken. Jeff held a special place in our family! He went out of his way showing his love to his 3 little cousins.
Always keeping in touch with them. Every birthday & Holidays, sending the kids each their own CD. Chatting about newest season of Vampire Diaries, AGT or The Voice! Jeff had a heart of gold! And will be deeply missed! Our hearts go out to Debbie, Jim & family! We are all truly sorry for your loss!
With love... Philip, Dana, Samantha, Jayme Lyn & Evan Rubenstein, Dana Rubenstein, Maple Glen, PA

Jeff was a great and gentle soul. We'll miss you at next year's reunion. It's our loss and heaven's gain. Jana Nestlerode  

Mr E. Thank u for all u taught me in my years. It was a pleasure to have gotten to know u. I'm glad i got to see u this summer and introduce my daughter to u. U told her I was one of ur favorite students. U have no idea how much that meant to me. U was one of my favorite teachers. Rip good kind sir. Dan Poorman, Elmira, NY

I remember him as a substitute teacher at E.F.A. he was also my neighbor for a few years. This is a shock to me but, he is now in a better place. RIP Mr. Edkind. Lamar Jones, Elmira, NY

Its so sad that your gone I miss u already. Nicole Tubbs, Elmira, NY

Jeff was a great person and always so witty and friendly. His passing is a sad event for class. Jeff I will miss seeing you at our 50th reunion. You were always such a nice person to chat with. Remember you well at EFA. May God bless your family and welcome you with open arms. Shalom my friend. The world was a better place with you in it. Now heaven is.  Bob Mehalick, Arlington, TX


















To the family and friends of Jeff, please accept my sincerest condolences. Jeff was a kind and gentle man, who always made himself available to substitute and work with students. He made an impression on many students and taught respect and kindness, as well as the subject matter. I am sorry to hear of his passing. May he rest in the arms of God.  - Connie Hodder, Gillett, PA

He was a kindhearted person. He will be missed by many! My heart and prayers go out to his family. Gracie Lowe

My heart aches for all of Jeff's family and friends. He loved and accepted my kids and and I before we even got to officially meet. Such a good man gone way too soon. - Theresa & Marc Shmerling

Our hearts go out to the Shmerling/Etkind families. Please accept our sincere condolences. With love, Gary and Barbara Freedman

May angels lead you in. You always had a smile for everyone. You were great as a teacher and a wonderful co worker Jeff Etkind. - Mandy Sue

Jeff was truly one of the kindest people I have ever met. I am very sad for this loss to all of his family and friends. I wish that I could hug his neck and thank him for being such a joy to everyone who was blessed to know him. - Jan Rossini

Jeff was a truly kind and gracious man, a gentle soul. He will be missed. Condolences to his sister Debbie and the rest of the family. - Gil Given

What sad news. Jeff was a wonderful person, a dedicated teacher, a loving member of Shomray Hadath, a dedicated Jew and American. May his memory be for a blessing. Mordechai Silverstein.

Part of my heart just left and I've never felt more loss than in this moment.. One of the most important people of my life just passed away and the world is not the same without the light of his soul shining through his beautiful heart. I love you Jeff and I hope you rest in heaven. - Natasha Clay

Dearest Jeff you will be missed by all. I was so heartbroken to hear of your passing. You were always there for the people you cared for. Your friendship will always hold a special place in my heart. Michelle Kennedy

Sorry for the loss of a good man. Mr.Etkind was an awesome substitute at EFA. Full of life and always brought a smile to students faces. He will be missed. Tanya VanCleaf, Elmira, NY

It's been 13 years since I graduated south side high school. Mr. Etkind stands out more in my mind then most of my other permanent teachers. He was always so kind and always there! I'm truly saddened to hear of his passing. Please rest in peace Mr. Etkind, know that you will be missed and in the memories of all your former students.   Sincerely, Judi Kerr, Aston, PA

Goodbye my cousin. We had so much fun when we were kids. We crawled out the window, we looked for boogeymen in the dirt-floor basement, and we picked flowers. When we were older, we tried to fix the drip in the showerhead. And as adults, each time we met we remembered those days. We also shared stories about teaching kids. Brian and I stayed with Jeff  in Elmira on our way to Canada. Jeff and I went down to the basement--it was paved! Now who did that to change my childhood memory?

Love you forever, Norrie



We will miss you Jeff.  RIP


Mr. Etkind was always a welcome sight in school when he would substitute, and he encouraged & inspired me early in my own career as a teacher. His quiet, calm temperament was a model for me. His memory will live in the hearts of many. Don Holloway, Pine City, NY

Jeff was one of those rare persons who could fit easily into any situation. He was so respected because he always respected everyone else around him. He was a man of great knowledge and great compassion. Those of us who had the privilege of teaching with him will always remember the enthusiasm he brought into the room. Shalom Jeff. You were a bright light in a world that needed more people like you. Bill Maitland, Pine City, NY

May you rest in peace Mr. Etkind. Such a kind humble soul who touched the lives of many students. Elmira, NY

So sorry to hear about Jeff. Such a kind soul. He will be missed by so many whose lives he touched. May you all find love and solace in the beautiful memories you hold in your hearts.

Marlen Erner, Slingerlands, NY

My deepest sympathies to Jeff's Family. I am so lucky to have spent time with him. What a wonderful person. I will miss you my FB friend. Sherry Thiroway, Coal Township, PA

I will miss you my friend!!  Stephanie R. Baker, Elmira, NY

A kind gentle soul. RIP Jeff. David Leveen, Croton on Hudson, NY

Jeff was a valued member of our EFA reunion planning committee. He rarely missed our monthly luncheons and was so looking forward to our 50th class reunion in 2017 as our planning efforts were starting gear up. He never had anything but a kind word to say about anyone and kept our monthly luncheons lively....his tales about the neighborhood kids he mentored, his extended family, classmates he had news about, memories of our days at EFA, the latest bargain he found and--most recently--his new car that he researched for months before buying. Jeff always hugged everyone good-bye as we parted ways after our monthly luncheons and I'll long remember the last one I received from him on August 19th, which was my birthday. He was one of the ultimate "good guys" whose faith was strong and his spirit lively. Jeff exuded grace and generosity and will be sorely missed by many. My deepest condolences to his extended family and large circle of friends near and far. Shalom, my friend........Patricia Mysnyk Nelson, Elmira, NY

I was able to see him during the summer luckily after 2 years. He was a good man. He helped me through rough patches in my life. He was a great teacher as well as a life long friend. Jeff Etkind, you will be severely missed. You have earned a place in my heart forever. Thank you for everything.     Tariq Hussain 







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