Eight years ago today, my friend Marc David Elkan passed away suddenly at the young age of 52. I will always remember the state of utter disbelief when I received the phone call with the shocking news. Marc and his family were some of the first friends we made when we moved to the Atlanta area in 1991. I have fond memories of going out for Chinese food in the snow and writing silly poems about relatives for a candle lighting ceremony. Marc always had a jolly smile on his face behind that salt and pepper beard of his.
Eight years later, the legacy of Marc David Elkan lives on and is thriving. His two wonderful children are happily married and raising families of their own. And Marc’s wife founded a school in 2009 which specializes in children with autism, sensory processing and communication disorders. The school was named the MDE School after Marc, whose initials were MDE. MDE stands for Motivation, Dedication, and Excellence. What a fitting tribute to Marc!
When I think of Marc, the initials MDE have yet another meaning. Mensch Derech Eretz. Mensch is a Yiddish word which means a person of integrity and honor. A mensch is someone to admire and emulate, someone of noble character. Derech Eretz means that we must conduct ourselves in a way that does not offend those around us. Judaism requires each of us to behave in a respectable fashion. Included in Derech Eretz is respect for elders and teachers and respect for the laws of the land in which we live.
Marc David Elkan was a Mensch and practiced Derech Eretz. His family and the MDE School are evidence of Marc’s character. I was fortunate to have know him and I miss him. Alav Ha-sholom my friend.