David Honigsberg, Rabbi, scholar of Jewish Mysticism, musician, game reviewer, writer, husband of Alexandra, son, brother, and friend, died this morning of a massive heart attack at the age of 48. He had a smaller episode back in September, but everyone, including the very capable docs at Columbia’s leading cardiac practice, felt he was on the mend and his cardiac rehabilitation was going according to plan. It would appear the body had other ideas.
I first met David and Alexandra on GEnie, the old SFRT. I very soon came to appreciate his ready humor, his gentle wisdom, and his ready friendship. It wasn’t long before I learned about the music, his writing, his scholarly pursuits. David’s picture needs to be next to the definition of “Renaissance Man” in the Oxford Unabridged Dictionary. Alexandra, his wife, lover, and companion for pretty much his entire adult life, shared many of those same qualities, but with her own particular bend — two strong individuals, who together were far more than the sum of their solo acts.
It wasn’t too much longer that I got to meet them in person at Balticon ’94, part of the large SFRT presence. It was like old friends weekend — a new experience for me, as there were many I’d known only online. As time went on, David and Alexandra provided a ready hand when I needed it — a shoulder, an ear (or an eye — lots of e-mails), a kind word or several — they were key to getting me through some very tough times. We met up on several other occasions — WFC ’96, which included a listen to the check-copy of The Don’t Quit Your Day Job Players first album “TKB” and a wonderful dinner where I can’t remember what I ate or what exactly we talked about, but it was wide-ranging and wonderful, then taking David, Alexandra, Laura Anne Gilman, and a whole mess o’ luggage to O’Hare on my way out of town. Picking them up at the Trenton, NJ, train station for Pat’s NYE party in Philly. A trip to NYC where I met them for dinner at an Italian restaurant near the South Side Sea Port that Alex assured me was genuine NY-mob-operated.
That last was almost 10 years ago. Our paths didn’t cross in the real world again, though we continued semi-regular contact via the net and particularly David’s Yahoo! group list. He was also on LJ as dochyel. Through it all, David was on my short list of people I knew I could count on. I suspect he was on a lot of people’s lists that way, actually. That’s the kind of guy he was.
Was. I’m having trouble referring to David in past-tense. He had such a presence, such a joyful approach to life that you couldn’t help but join in with him. He loved his wife, and his wife loved him. Such a bizarre combination: the rabbi and the Apostolic Orthodox Catholic Church priest. But they made it work with an ease that couldn’t be faked — they truly understood it isn’t the name that you use for the deity of your choice, it’s how you live your life every day that matters.
I will miss my friend. I already do. Something I have in common with a very long list of people whose lives David touched, inevitably enhancing. The world has lost a great man. It’s up to the rest of us to carry on his legacy.
Rest now, David. While we are devastated now, we will carry on and keep your spirit of sharing — and caring — alive.