Henry Hudson Park
The Daily Plant : Wednesday, September 15, 2004
PAUL CYMERMAN MEMORIALIZED IN PARK THAT BEARS HIS NAME
At noon on Sunday, September 12, community members gathered in the Bronx’s Paul’s Park, at the junction of Kappock Street and Independence Avenue, to remember the park’s namesake, Paul Cymerman. Nearly a year ago, on September 17, 2003, the community gathered in the very same place to name the park in Paul Cymerman’s honor. At that ceremony, Paul Cymerman was present—one of the first times in Parks & Recreation history that a playground was named for a living person. It was a rare occurrence, but only fitting, for Paul Cymerman was a rare person.
"I’ll never forget a walk I took with him throughout the park," said Ari Hoffnung, Chairperson of Community Board 8’s Parks Committee. "Every few feet we were stopped by people who wanted to say hello and ask how he was doing."
Hoffnung explained that since Jewish tradition requires immediate burial, not all of Paul’s friends knew about, or were able to attend, his funeral. "The September service gave the community another opportunity to mourn his loss and celebrate his legacy," said Hoffnung.
Parks & Recreation Commissioner Adrian Benepe, Council Member Oliver Koppell, and Parks & Recreation Bronx Borough Commissioner Dorothy Lewandowski attended Sunday’s memorial. Together with friends and family, they planted a tuliptree in memory of the man who devoted nearly 20 years of his life to the happiness of Bronx children.
The tree that they planted in Paul’s Park stands only a short distance from the tree planted last year in memory of Paul’s late wife. "As these trees grow and their branches join together overhead, they will stand by each other’s side, as the people they memorialize did in life," said Commissioner Benepe.
Paul Cymerman died in February, 2004. A survivor of the Holocaust, he emigrated to the United States with his wife in 1945, settling in the East Bronx, and then Washington Heights. For most of his life, he worked as a butcher in Washington Heights. In the mid-70s, Cymerman began volunteering in what was then the lower section of Henry Hudson Park. His dedication transformed the playground, making it a haven for local children. He looked after one of the few remaining sandboxes in the entire city and oversaw the installation of a lockable gate at the park entrance. Cymerman came to the playground every day, opening it in the morning and locking it up at night.
"It was a very moving ceremony," said Commissioner Lewandowski of Sunday’s event. "Knowing Paul, he would have been pleased to see so many of his friends and family gathered in the park."
In honor of Paul and to continue his legacy, the community donated over $1,000 to Parks & Recreation. Lewandowski says that the agency’s goal is to get enough funding to hire a full-time employee who can emulate Paul Cymerman’s loving care of Paul’s Park.
QUOTATION FOR THE DAY
Tree at my window, window tree,
My sash is lowered when night comes on;
But let there never be curtain drawn
Between you and me.
Robert Frost’s "Tree at My Window"
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