OBITUARY

Harold Braff

August 24, 1934December 1, 2018

Shiva will be observed on Wednesday and Thursday from 12:00 to 2:30PM and 6:00 to 8:30PM. Please call the funeral home for the Shiva location.

Hal Braff learned early in life that being Jewish meant more than just religious observance. “Going to service was not sufficient” he said. “Make the world a better place, that is your responsibility.” That statement became the mantra reflecting his remarkable life. On Saturday, December 1st, Harold I. Braff peacefully passed away following a long illness.

In a lifetime spanning 84 years, Hal’s personal and professional accomplishments were bountiful. A leader, visionary and humanitarian, he was passionate about his family, career, and volunteer endeavors. And he cared for people who lacked the opportunity to improve the quality of their lives resulting from inequality and intolerance.

Phil Yourish, the Founding Director of the Weequahic High School Alumni Association and a close friend, described Hal as “a kind, generous, thoughtful and dynamic individual, always available to help those in need. He was a “doer,” not afraid to take on challenging situations, and always addressed difficult issues creatively with enthusiasm and optimism. As a mentor, advisor and friend, he impacted the lives of others in so many wonderful and meaningful ways.”

Hal was born in Newark and raised in the Weequahic section, attending Weequahic High School, which he described as “one of the best times in my life.” His love for his high school inspired him later in life to provide opportunity to the current students at his alma mater.

Longtime Weequahic classmate and friend, Dr. Noah Chivian, said Hal Braff “was erudite, articulate, and totally committed to the many missions of repairing the world he adopted,”

He graduated from the University of Wisconsin in 1956, was an active alumnus, and continued to be an ardent Badger football fan. Returning home, he received a law degree from Rutgers University in 1959. He practiced law for 59 years, first at Braff, Harris and Sukoneck, and then as Counsel to Margulies Wind, where he was a well-respected mediator. Bob Marguiles explained that “Hal lived his daily life helping all comers. He was selfless. He was the ultimate professional and the consummate mensch, a man for all seasons. He unconditionally gave of himself, his talents and love to all whom he touched.”

In 1997, Hal and his friend and colleague, Sheldon Bross, established the Weequahic High School Alumni Association. He served as Co-President for 18 years, the organization grew to be one of the largest and most successful high school alumni groups in New Jersey. Sheldon declared that “the Alumni Association has raised more than one-half million dollars for scholarships and student activities.”

He added that “the word love was a part of Hal’s everyday vocabulary. He was one of kind! Everybody loved Hal. You’re not going to find another person like him”

Hal was an adjunct professor of negotiations at Rutgers Law School, the University of San Diego Law School, and the MBA students at Peking University in Beijing.

Hal was President of Temple Sha'arey Shalom and developed a lifelong friendship with Rabbi Seymour Dresner. In the early 1960s, Hal served as Counsel for the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE).

For over 20 years, Hal and his wife Elaine, were master teachers for PAIRS, a marriage education course. Hal had varied interests including community theater, opera, religion, justice, politics - and the NY Mets.

Hal was literally a Johnny Appleseed in the American Inns of Court movement, an organization dedicated to teaching ethics, civility, and professionalism to young lawyers. He established a network of 23 Inns in New Jersey, as well as Inns across the country. In 1994, as a national officer, Hal received their highest award which was presented to him in the United States Supreme Court. Hal was a member of the IOLTA Fund Board of the New Jersey State Bar Foundation serving as President.

Among the numerous awards he received, was the Daniel J. O'Hern Professionalism Award conferred by the New Jersey State Bar in 2013 and Richard K. Jeydel Award for Excellence in ADR in 2015 from the Justice Marie L. Garibaldi American Inns of Court. He was also recognized on the New York Magazine’s list of top lawyers.

He was involved with many other organizations including the boards of the Jewish Historical Society of New Jersey and the Mental Health Association of Essex and Morris Counties.

Hal is survived by his beloved wife of 30 years, Elaine; his children, Adam and (Michelle), Joshua and (Jill), Zach, Shoshana (deceased), Jennifer Gelman, and Jessica Kirson (Danielle Sweeney-Kirson); 10 grandchildren, Jagger, Henry and Ella, Lila and Blaze Braff; Bryce, Jade, and Tyler Gelman; Isabella Sweeney-Kirson and Zoe Cali-Manko and; and Hal’s sister Susan Sayers (Gary).

Funeral service will be conducted on Tuesday, December 4th at 11:30 at Bernheim Apter Kreitzman Suburban Funeral Chapel, 68 Old Short Hills Road, Livingston, NJ 07039.

In lieu of flowers, donations can be made to the Weequahic High School Alumni Association, P.O. Box 494, Newark, NJ 07101.

  • DONATIONS

  • Weequahic High School Alumni Association

Services

  • Funeral Service Tuesday, December 4, 2018
  • Burial Tuesday, December 4, 2018
REMEMBERING

Harold Braff

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meg lesnik

December 8, 2018

The first time I met Hal was at a Weequahic function with my late husband, Ron Stone (then Principal of Weequahic High School). This was about 18 years ago and I will never forget the next thing Hal said to me after "hello" great meeting you - I can't wait for you to meet my beautiful and wonderful wife Elaine.
Hal's face lit up anytime he spoke about Elaine - we did meet that day and the (4) of us connected immediately. What followed was a wonderful friendship and fond memories of good times and great conversations.
Thank you Ron for the connection to Hal - my life certainly has been enriched by knowing such a wonderful, giving and generous man.
I will cherish all our conversations over the years and try to have your optimistic always seeing the glass half full attitude!

Love you and miss you always!

IP!!! (Indianpride) for those who didn't know

Shelley Weinstock

December 4, 2018

Hal was a mentor and a mensch to so many of us and in paricular to me and my family. The times that we spent with him and Elaine were always warm, welcoming and intellectually and emotionally stimulating and often enlightening. I will sorely miss him but he lives on in beautiful memories of our times together.

Larry and Sheila Rothman

December 3, 2018

Our Ode to Hal


We first met Hal over 33 years ago. It was on our wedding day, he had been dating Elaine for a short period of time, yet remarkably, he was as much a part of the family as anyone else attending. It was clear to us that Hal and Elaine were as much in love with each other as we were on this milestone day in our lives.

We were smitten with Hal as likely you were too. Hal had the remarkable gift of making you the center of his attention, and in case there was any doubt, how many of you recall him saying, “ Tell me everything, I have all the time in the world to listen”. He had this uncanny ability to use his extraordinary court room skills in his everyday conversations.

Some of the most lasting memories we have include our good fortune to be with Hal and his team in London when they successfully defended George Washington on behalf of the Inns of Court in a mock trial. The icing on that cake was to come back home to see the trial rebroadcast on PBS.

We admire Hal for his leading by example. Many of you know of his work in the South as an attorney with the Freedom Riders, his passion for his beloved Weequahic High School and together with some of his dear friends establishing that Alumni Association whereby literally hundreds of students were given scholarships and the opportunity to further themselves with more education.

Hal was devoted to his family and the family to Hal. We feel he made us all better people for knowing him. He and Elaine introduced us to “the gratefuls”, a tradition in our family whereby we all tell each other what we are grateful for.

We will sorely miss Hal, a great person, a real mensch. We will not forget him and he will always be in our hearts.

Love,

Larry and Sheila

Larry and Sheila Rothman

December 3, 2018

We first met Hal over 33 years ago. It was on our wedding day, he had been dating Elaine for a short period of time, yet remarkably, he was as much a part of the family as anyone else attending. It was clear to us that Hal and Elaine were as much in love with each other as we were on this milestone day in our lives.

We were smitten with Hal as likely you were too. Hal had the remarkable gift of making you the center of his attention, and in case there was any doubt, how many of you recall him saying, “ Tell me everything, I have all the time in the world to listen”. He had this uncanny ability to use his extraordinary court room skills in his everyday conversations.

Some of the most lasting memories we have include our good fortune to be with Hal and his team in London when they successfully defended George Washington on behalf of the Inns of Court in a mock trial. The icing on that cake was to come back home to see the trial rebroadcast on PBS.

We admire Hal for his leading by example. Many of you know of his work in the South as an attorney with the Freedom Riders, his passion for his beloved Weequahic High School and together with some of his dear friends establishing that Alumni Association whereby literally hundreds of students were given scholarships and the opportunity to further themselves with more education.

Hal was devoted to his family and the family to Hal. We feel he made us all better people for knowing him. He and Elaine introduced us to “the gratefuls”, a tradition in our family whereby we all tell each other what we are grateful for.

We will sorely miss Hal, a great person, a real mensch. We will not forget him and he will always be in our hearts.

Love,

Larry and Sheila







We vividly recall his use of examples that began with “Suppose Mary Sue and

Frank Donahue

December 3, 2018

Hal was instrumental in the founding of our Inn of Court, one of the first Family Law Inns in the entire USA. Hal continued to support the Inn and was honored at our 25th Anniversary dinner in September of this year. Hal was a lawyer who exemplified the values of the Inns of professionalism, collegiality and ethics.

Hal, we will all miss you.

Frank Donahue, Bruce Pitman and the Members of the Barry I. Croland Family Law Inn of Court

Scott Murphy

December 3, 2018

Valerie and I first met Hal when I moved from California to New Jersey and started practicing in Jersey and we eventually worked together as partners at the same law firm. He was a wonderful friend and mentor and there are not enough words or space here to express how much he will be missed by me. Our thoughts and prayers will focus upon the entire Braff family in this transitional time. Hal will always be in our hearts.

Scott and Valerie Murphy

Jane Selzer

December 2, 2018

Hal and I really connected when his vision for Movie Night at his new home, Four Seasons North Caldwell, started to take shape. He was passionate about this latest adventure and hosted a film and discussion each month. Even in his last remaining days, we once again talked about the upcoming movies to be shown from January through June 2019 giving him hope and something to look forward to. It made him so happy and it was impossible to change the subject! Joe and I are saddened that we are unable to be with Elaine and the family on Tuesday. Hal was a giant among men and will be sorely missed by so many. He was an extraordinary human being who left us too soon. Joe and I loved Hal...and will think of him always.

Jane Selzer

Maia Berens

December 2, 2018

From the moment we met Hal in 1996 or so, my husband Bart and I knew we had a lifelong friend and fellow traveler in making the world a better place. I will always miss him and know that he and Bart will be hanging out together wherever they are. Elaine, I'm always here for you.

Marc Kadish

December 2, 2018

Elaine has been part of my life since childhood. I remember when Hal became part of her life. When I came back to New Jersey for my 50th law school reunion I made certain that I could spend an afternoon with Hal and Elaine. We talked politics, Newark and all things New Jersey. He and I had one more lengthy talk about politics even though he was in the hospital. I am sorry we won’t be able to talk about politics and the law. A great man. He will be missed.

All my love

FROM THE FAMILY