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Hundreds mourn rising star Hope Reichbach at funeral

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More than 500 friends, civic leaders and even some political rivals came out in droves on Sunday to mourn 22-year-old City Council staffer Hope Reichbach, the daughter of a prominent judge who died of a mysterious overdose on Thursday.

Of all the emotions on display at Brooklyn Heights’ Congregation Mt. Sinai, the most profound was the grief of Reichbach’s parents Ellen Meyers and Judge Gus Reichbach for their only daughter.

“Our loss is unfathomable, our grief is bottomless,” said Reichbach. “She wasn’t a star, but rather a comet that was extinguished much too soon. I love you, my baby.”

Pallbearers carried a simple wooden casket draped with a black cloth with the Star of David, followed by the immediate family.

The funeral capped three horrific days for the Reichbach family that began after a family friend found Hope Reichbach unconscious in her Schermerhorn Street apartment and called 911. Police pronounced her dead at the scene from an overdose of prescription drugs, according to a source close to the family.

Reichbach loved politics, journalism, and community activism, which she pursued seven days a week as a community liaison and spokeswoman for Councilman Steve Levin (D–Brooklyn Heights).

Levin called her the “most compassionate and thoughtful person you could ever want to meet” and that he would “never be the same without her.”

“There’s a hole in our lives that is so vast and so deep” said Levin. “It is up to all of us in this room to help Gus and Ellen persevere.”

The mourners came from all walks of life, including councilmembers, college-aged strivers, judges and public housing residents flooded the funeral to console family members and each other over the untimely death of the lifelong Boerum Hill resident.

Council Speaker Christine Quinn honored the deceased with a posthumous city proclamation, and Rabbi Joseph Potasnik urged mourners to honor Reichbach’s memory by helping people in the community.

Other attendees included Assemblyman Vito Lopez; dozens of members Lopez and Levin’s collective staffs; former Councilman, now Taxi Commissioner David Yassky, Councilmembers Brad Lander, Letitia James, Jumaane Williams, Mark Weprin, and Domenic Recchia; Comptroller John Liu; Public Advocate Bill DeBlasio; Borough President Markowitz; state Sens. Eric Adams and Daniel Squadron; Assemblymembers Joseph Lentol, Dov Hikind and Joan Millman.

Also on hand were some political rivals — including Rep. Nydia Velazquez, and district leaders Chris Owens, Jo Anne Simon, and Lincoln Restler — an indication of how respected Reichbach was, even to her opponents.

“Her death is a terrible tragedy,” Simon said.

A precocious trailblazer from an early age, Reichbach helped her father get elected to the civil court system when she was only 10 years old.

At Hunter College HS, she filed a federal lawsuit against then-Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld for illegal military recruitment tactics.

Barely five years later, she ran for office herself, hoping to unseat a longtime incumbent district leader in Brownstone Brooklyn. She lost, but got an impressive 40 percent of the vote in her first race.

In her last days, she worked with Boerum Hill residents to calm neighborhood traffic, and plotted a strategy to win her rematch against Simon.

In lieu of flowers or food the family has requested that donations be made to the Nicholas Heyward Memorial fund, named after the young man who was killed in the Gowanus Houses.

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Reader Feedback

Maria Pagano from CG says:
My heart and prayers go out to Hope's parents for this shocking loss. There are no words.
Sincerely,
Maria Pagano
May 2, 2011, 7:48 am
Allen Ginsberg from Yours says:
I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night.
May 2, 2011, 12:39 pm
Peter from Brooklyn Heights says:
Heart-breaking.

As the rabbi said at the service, she left us her years. I hope we use them.

Deepest condolences to her family and friends.
May 2, 2011, 3:08 pm
common sense from bay ridge says:
Rest in peace Hope.
May 2, 2011, 3:54 pm
Harry from BK Hts says:
I'm sorry to see anyone die, but let's not forget her political pedigree. She was part of the Vito Lopez-Steve Levin machine - hardly progressive. Lopez and Levin are the corrupt machine. Marty Markowitz and Christine Quinn are supported by landlords, developers and other scum buckets. Reichbach was part of that corrupt machine.
May 2, 2011, 5:19 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
i can't believe how small some people are. I am not a Vito fan(he will tell you if you ask) But Hope was not a Vito clone. She was a thinking young -very young- woman. Her father is known as a progressive judge. I'll remind you that Harry Truman came out of a corrupt boss as well but was never tainted. There were no taints on Hope. Vito is under investigation but he has not been charged with anything except not being liked by the NY Post....which doesn't like our President either. Marty was a tenant's advocate. He remains a progressive. Christine Quinn is an honorable person. Being supported by Landlords and developers has not stopped her from seeking an expansion of rent regulation. I am not sure what some of the people's problem is but a lack of decency and civility is surely marked by some of the more petty posts. IMO of course.
May 2, 2011, 6:07 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tom_Pendergast

it took me a minute to remember the name of the boss who picked Harry Truman
May 2, 2011, 6:12 pm
Grace from Clearsen says:
I've known Hope since the day she was born. I lived 2 houses down & I know why she was called 'Hope'. She lived that name, embodying that word as her life. It's just not supposed to be this way. She was such a bright light. Perhaps, one day, there will be a small sliver of comfort for Gus & Ellen in the fact that she lit up this world so brightly, albeit for such a short time. Anyone who chooses this forum to express political agendas has no heart, no ethics & no right to speak here.
I love you Hope. I always will. Grace
May 2, 2011, 7:04 pm
JB from Park Slope says:
Pretty low to post a political rant, Harry in Bk Hts

I doubt you ever met her. Shame. Very bad taste.

I have known Hope since she was 5. I am not a close friend at all, but know her that long. She stood out. Confident. Always bright, always polite, very well liked that I could see. Interested in others. Very progressive family, she did more than most of us ever have done even as adults, to keep up with what is going on and to help people. I am sure she would have had a bright future given a longer life.

Condolences to her family and friends.
May 2, 2011, 7:28 pm
Cynthia from Prospect Heights says:
I didn't know her, but Sid is delusional regarding Markowitz and Quinn. Sure, Marty was known as a tenants advocate before becoming BP. but once he moved up, he turned 180 degrees and promoted neighborhood-busting policies, starting with Atlantic Yards. Same with Quinn. She was known as a progressive from Manhattan's West Side, but she quickly sold out as well. In Chelsea she pushed for one skyscraper after another and up to her eyeballs with selling out St. Vincents to the Rudins. Sid, calling Quinn honorable is like calling Bloomberg an advocate for the poor.
May 2, 2011, 8:36 pm
Sam from Carroll Gardens says:
Harry, I am surprised at how low you can truly go. How dare you, sir. What sort of man are you? And keep in mind I use the term "man" very loosely in reference to you. To exploit a tragedy like this for your own cynical political ravings. A 22-year-old is dead, and you would dare to spit on her memory long before the earth beneath the coffin has settled?

I knew Hope Reichbach. She wanted to change things. She believed that she could change them. Yes, her family was "connected" if you would like to use that word, but everything she did with those connections was for a greater purpose, a common good, something that you, sir, would apparently know nothing about.
May 3, 2011, 3:51 am
Harry from Bk Hts says:
Sam, How Dare You!!!

The only reason she is getting this kind of press is because of her political work and associations. So it's fair game to question her political relationships.

When Nixon died, did the obit columns omit Watergate? Will they omit Bill Clinton's sexual dalliances? No one is saying she is guilty of any crime, but one can't excuse those with whom she was affiliated. When people like Markowitz, Quinn, Levin, Lopez and others show up, that's part of her political family, and that's fair game.

And when you say she wanted to change things, that's your political rantings, and what that agenda was should be scrutinized. I don't know if her actions were for a common good as you claim, but I do know those with whom she hung her hat ... and I know they are not in it for the common good.

So back at you Sam!
May 3, 2011, 5:38 am
Sid from boerum Hill says:
what a bunch of nonsense. You count what people do by who shows up at the funeral? Joanne Simon was there too. What Nixon and Clinton did was what THEY did not what someone else did.

I did not vote for Hope. But I have seen her at work. She wasn't a Vito clone. You just feel its ok to write what ever drivel you want without any basis in fact at all.

People show respect by how they write about others. I don't want to get into a long political discussion here but the attacks on others because of one or two policies you disagree with is the height of arrogance.

I'll just use Marty as an example, you can say what you want about Atlantic yards(and I do) but the original plan contained a fair number of affordable housing. Marty has been clear he would do anything to bring a professional sports team to Brooklyn. You can disagree whether the affordable housing will ever be built but to use this as a basis to attack his bonafides as tenant advocate is just plain nonsense. Marty has gone against most of the developers in Brooklyn in one way or another while he has been in office. If he could run again he probably would be over whelming reelected. I worked for the Ken Fisher campaign against Marty. Sometimes he has acted like a buffoon but on the whole he has been the most effective Boro president we have had in my lifetime(and I am not so young any more)..

but this is about Hope and her legacy-at 22!
May 3, 2011, 9:07 am
Harry from Bk Hts says:
Sid, oh how mixed-up you are. You're the one who called Quinn honorable ... she's the one who brought you Bloomberg's third term and the Slush Fund scandal.

You say that AY's plan supposedly had affordable housing? Then why did housing and tenant advocates from around the city condemn the plan? Oh, maybe you're from Acorn. Yes, remember Acorn got $1.5 million from Bruce Ratner. Like other former tenant advocates, Markowitz saw the money. He isn't what he was pre-BP.

Oh, Ken Fisher, that explains your lunacy. Fisher never even pretended ... he was the landlord's darling from the beginning. Now he represents them. No wonder you think Quinn is honorable.
May 3, 2011, 9:26 am
Gail from BR says:
Harry you suck, hope was a smart, dedicated young women who will be missed by the many people who knew here. Who cares about this Quinn, Lopez, Simon, Levin, Markowitz bull. A bright light in brooklyn went out last week lets remember the good that Hope did for us all.

RIP my Dear,
I still have Hope for Brooklyn
May 3, 2011, 5:10 pm
Mary from Brooklyn says:
Such disrespect on this comment page-
My gosh, she was such an inspiration and so young, probably doing more than most will ever do to help others.

May her family find peace and may Hope shine down on us.- we really need it.
May 3, 2011, 9:15 pm
Patty from Williamsburg says:
Pretty and charming wide-eyed young girl meets a tragic end. But she chose politics and all that goes with it. Many of those who show up to "show respect" are nothing but the corrupt machine she fell into. Was she that naive? I suspect not. Running for District Leader is a political move, not just helping with constituent problems.
May 3, 2011, 9:31 pm
Jane from Brooklyn says:
I have noticed that Harry is posting the same on other comments pages, using different names.

Eg. Peter on one. I suspect Patty, above.

So ignore all the bitter sad comments.

This site is not monitored for relevance or appropriateness, so they will probably keep appearing.
May 4, 2011, 4:39 pm
Harry from Brooklyn Heights says:
No Jane, I'm not the others you suspect.

As I said -- and you choose to ignore -- I'm sorry to see anyone die so young.

But, should one's political affiliations be ignored? For those who are of the opinion that Vito Lopez is a crook now, would he not be one if he passed away? She worked for Steve Levin, a protege of Lopez. She apparently had the support of Markowitz, Quinn and others. All corrupt politicians.

So you can call my comments sad and bitter, and you can cover your eyes. None of that changes the politicians she chose as allies when she was alive.

If you think those politicians are clean and wonderful, then say that, but don't by hypocrites.
May 4, 2011, 9:20 pm
Sid from Boerum Hill says:
Some people believe there own propaganda no matter how scurrilous it is. Everyone, in their minds, are corrupt as is a 22 year old who is trying to change the world.
They believe they are entitled to the last word. Don't waste your time with such people as they contribute nothing to others but nonsense. IMO.
May 4, 2011, 10:17 pm
Mary from Carroll Gardens says:
Sid can't even spell "their." That's what they teach in corrupt Brooklyn clubhouses.
May 14, 2011, 8:56 am
Judi from Brooklyn says:
Dear Hope, You will never be forgotten. Never. Thank you for the precious time you gave us. Our love for you endures, as will the memory of all the good you have done.
May 10, 2012, 7:52 am

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