Sadly, we must mark the passing of our Founder and President Emeritus, Bernie Kouchel, who has guided this organization for the past 25 years. Bernie was buried April 11, 2013 in the Veteran's section of Vista Memorial Gardens, with military honors.
As one of the pioneers of Jewish genealogy, and a member of the JewishGen Board, Bernie has left his indelible footprints on the pages of JewishGen. Recognized in a proclamation declaring the month of December, 2001 to be "Bernard Israelite Kouchel Month
," the award read, "Such honor [is] bestowed upon our friend and loyal member of the JewishGen Board for his illustrious service rendered over a long and productive tenure and his accomplishments both outstanding and unforgettable to this virtual community."
More recently, in 2012, he was beyond thrilled to be the recipient of the Outstanding Program or Project Award from IAJGS
for the conception of the popular ViewMate Project, which by now must have close to 20,000 images archived.
As the Jewish Genealogical Society of Broward County marks its 25th year, having been founded by Bernie Kouchel in 1988, I published in our March newsletter, greetings from renowned genealogist, Miriam Weiner (Roots to Routes) who wrote, "His leadership, innovative ideas, continuing quest for new resources and involvement in Jewish genealogy on both a local and national level led to the establishment and continuing growth of your society."
His accomplishments are far too numerous to mention, but included the chair of the Broward County Research Committee for MOSAIC: Jewish Life in Florida
, an important Florida project which is now a part of the Jewish Museum in Miami.
After retiring as a buliding contractor in New York and Florida, Bernie authored a book entitled, Book of Israelite Family History
. From his mother, he inherited the candlesticks his grandmother, Sarah Israelite brought with her from Novogrudok, Belarus in 1902, arriving in Brooklyn with three children to join her husband, Michl. "I envision Shabbat candle lighting rituals with Bubba waving her hands over the lit candles,"
he wrote, "it endures in my memory."
He now joins them, and Bernie will endure in our memories, having well-earned his rest on earth.
The JGSBC extends our condolences, love and profound sympathy to the family of Bernie Kouchel.