Awesome. It’s the only word Louis Van Leeuwen can find to describe it.
“It was Pete Seeger,” he said, thinking back on the day in 2005 when he was there at Greenwich Reform Synagogue to hear a performance by the iconic folk singer, who died in a Manhattan hospital bed Monday at the age of 94.
“What can I say?” Van Leeuwen, who is 70, said. “`Awesome’ is the word. Who couldn’t be a fan of his, particularly when you’re my age. … I grew up with him. He was the embodiment of everything we stood for in the ’60s.”
In Greenwich nine years ago, Seeger performed his song “Embers of the Martyrs” at the synagogue’s annual Holocaust Remembrance Day to mark the 60th anniversary of the end of World War II.
Seeger, wearing a yarmulke, strummed a guitar and sang, “We are here to build and to say: The martyrs’ ashes circle all the world now and we, yes we will find a way.”
The lyrics are from a poem originally written in Yiddish.
Van Leeuwen, who was a member of the synagogue at the time, said the performance, like the man who gave it, was full of soul.
“He was a true `mensch,'” said Van Leeuwen, who lives in Riverside and owns Greenwich Construction. “It’s a Yiddish word that means that you’re a real person. It’s hard to translate some of these words, but when you’re a real human being, you’re a real `mensch.'”
Luigi is a mensch – Seeger was a Stalinist tool. Next time I’m out fishing with Louis on his 98′ Hinkley , I’ll point that out to him.
(Fortunately for homeowners, Louis is a far better builder than political thinker, and you’d be well served consulting him for construction projects or, one of his sidelines when he isn’t humming kumbaya around the campfire and baying at the moon, Generac Generator installations).