A man of words: Eulogy for our beloved Aryeh Dean Cohen

New York-born Israeli journalist Aryeh Dean Cohen died on June 16 at the age of 63, and was laid to rest in Jerusalem two days later.

Aryeh Dean Cohen (second from left) with Shani (far right) and their four children (photo credit: Courtesy)
Aryeh Dean Cohen (second from left) with Shani (far right) and their four children
(photo credit: Courtesy)
How do we encapsulate you in a few words? You used to wash bananas before peeling them. You used to dry our hair after a bath with a big towel, rubbing our scalps ferociously. You read to us all the time and no one does a better Jennifer Giraffe voice. You introduced us to WWF on Friday afternoons, even wrestling on the floor with the boys way after it was age appropriate. You had the loudest sneeze.
You were the ultimate sports fan. The Yankees and Hapoel might not have known it, but you were playing for them in every game, even if you were sitting on the couch at the time. Our entire living room would be full of every Yankee item known to man and we all remember being woken up by your not at all muffled shouts at 3 o’clock in the morning. You covered the World Series and were in the parade the year the Giants won the Super Bowl. You collected the cards, tracked statistics and always said “you have to be willing to suffer to be a sports fan” or “You have to believe, Yaniv, you have to believe.”
You loved travel and seeing new places, even if it meant almost killing Aunt Lisa on that trek in Crete. You took your sons on a French ski trip and lost them at the Eiffel Tower. You were there for the opening of the Israeli embassy in Jordan, with Israeli aid supplies in the aftermaths of the Bosnia crisis, accompanied new immigrants from Georgia and Uzbekistan with the Joint and enjoyed a great massage in the Dominican Republic.
You walked so fast. You taught me (Tamar) how to whistle on the way home from Building 2 and how to program the VCR. You taught Yael her first joke and how to tie her shoes. You taught Yaniv how to say, “This is a deplorable situation” at the age of three. You taught Itai how to use the word “who” as opposed to “which” and spent many an afternoon trying to get the whiffle balls out of the tree with him. Every April Fool’s day you fell for our tricks, winning a trivia contest or believing we had found hundreds of dollars in the cutlery drawer. You played ball with us all the time. You had a debilitating fear of heights but still thought it was a good idea to go on the Tower of Terror ride. With your four-year- old daughter.
You played Scrabble with your two ladies, Gila and Fayge, and later Nechama, sometimes admitting you had lost. You had a wild poker night with the guys. As kids, you and Zvi got into a fist fight in NYC with some hoodlums and you ran away, deserting your good friend. David Kaplan joined you on your first date with Ima. You were always there for your friends, keeping secrets, offering support or even being with them in their final hours.
You made our home a place of music, joy and laughter. Your record collection and obsessively labeled tapes and videos took over our house. You always wanted to share movies you loved with us, and later loved getting recommendations from us, and we all enjoyed movie night on Saturday night. You enjoyed musicals and classic Hollywood cinema, introducing us to Gene Kelly, Humphrey Bogart and the Marx Brothers.
You loved being a newspaper man. You would open the newspaper every morning and mark the errors, taking it personally if there were too many. You reported on everything from Education, to Police, Sports and Aliyah, and spent most nights on the night desk taking our calls while trying to work. You were the best at coming up with witty captions. Your much-loved TV review column gained you many fans, including a little old lady who wrote you fan letters.
You were always a person of words, weaving sounds into meaning and stringing letters into content. You taught us to love books and newspapers. You told us never to believe what we read in the paper, developing our critical thinking skills early on. Saba (grandfather) trained you and Jonny in your basement for city wide spelling bees and you continued to correct our grammar, spelling and pronunciation even as adults. We always asked you for the definition of an unfamiliar word we came across in a book. You loved pun dad jokes, even when they were not funny. Your classics had a penguin going to the movies or turns being left unstoned.
You would have been 64 on June 27, which means you have been our father for half of your life. In the last year you started reminiscing with me as if we had both grown up together, reminding me of TV shows you had watched as a kid, games, TV commercials and foods that were all part of your childhood. I loved being your fake contemporary and hope we can all share the happy childhood you gave us with others.
We want to thank you for being caring, kind, silly, curious, and our Abba (father in Hebrew), Abs, Popsicle, Dad. We can’t imagine our lives without you so we’ll carry you with us always. We love you.