R’ Yanky Meyer, a prominent Jewish communal activist who utilized his connections with law enforcement and various city agencies for the benefit of the community, and who founded the Misaskim organization, passed away.
Yanky Meyer, a man who was well known and highly respected by the Jewish community, members of law enforcement and various city agencies, died tonight at Maimonides Hospital. Meyer had been battling an illness in recent weeks and was 59 years old.
It would take endless pages to describe all that Meyer did in his lifetime. While he is most widely known as the founder of Misaskim, Meyer was a member of Hatzolah and a chaplain for the NYPD and the Port Authority and whenever there was a mass gathering, a tragedy or an autopsy that needed to be prevented, Meyer was there, rolling up his sleeves and doing what needed to be done, no matter how long it took or how difficult the job was.
Unassuming yet extremely well connected, soft spoken yet determined, Meyer was a man who got things done, his days and nights blurring together because how could you ask him to sleep when someone needed his help?
Born and bred in Boro Park, Meyer was a talmid of various well-known yeshivas including Karlin-Stolin, the Mir and Beis Medrash Govoha. He was a Daf Yomi yid whose analytical mind was well-suited to Misaskim’s mission and while it may be known as the organization with the chairs and sifrei Torah for shiva homes, Meyer’s analytical eye and caring heart took Misaskim to the next level, ensuring that aveilim had their every need met in practically any circumstances.
Never content with the status quo, Meyer launched Project Yedid to gladden the hearts of widows and orphaned children, making sure that they had a reason to smile on every yom tov. From lavish home-delivered Purim seudahs to Shavuos flowers and cheesecakes and chol hamoed trips, Project Yedid was a comforting presence that reminded the bereaved that while they may have suffered a loss, they were never alone. Meyer made sure that Chanukah was particularly memorable for Project Yedid’s children, sending them high quality toys, Chanukah gelt and “gebentshe dollars,” an envelope of singles in individual plastic sleeves, each one bearing the blessing of a prominent rabbi.
It would be impossible to count the number of people who kept Meyer’s number on their speed dial, simply because he was involved in so many different things. He was often tapped to coordinate security for large events and when tragic accidents took place, Meyer was on hand to volunteer his services, which often included the heartbreaking task of making death notifications.
Meyer’s contact list included many, many members of the NYPD as well as the numerous medical examiners he would call to prevent autopsies and coordinate timely burials and he was well known for his dogged efforts to ensure that those being interred in Israel were flown there as quickly as possible.
Meyer wasn’t shy about tackling big issues and when New York City attempted a switch to what he felt was a flawed system for issuing death certificates in 2018, he assembled an interfaith coalition to protest the move, explaining that it would cause unacceptable burial delays.
Meyer’s efforts resulted in a meeting with the New York City Department of Health to address the concerns of the Jewish and Muslim communities, and he was quick to thank the city for being receptive to their concerns.
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