If a picture is worth a thousand words, then Abe Zelmanowitz’s kind and gentle smile, emanating from his portrait, is proof enough of the humanity of the 9/11 victim, fondly known by his family as “Uncle Abremel.”
The Borough Park resident was recalled with misty eyes and eloquent eulogies as family, friends and area dignitaries assembled for a viewing of his portrait at artist Jodi Reznik’s Midwood studio, 1305 East 17th Street, where they helped immortalize the Empire Blue Cross Blue Shield worker, who stayed behind on the 27th floor of One World Trade Center to help his quadriplegic friend and co-worker, Ed Beyea, after terrorists struck on September 11, 2001.
Reznik presented the handsome painting to Zelmanowitz’s older brother, Jack, during a presentation, attended by Assemblymember Helene Weinstein, Councilmembers Michael Nelson and Mathieu Eugene, State Senator Marty Golden and a representative from Assemblymember Dov Hikind, who coordinated the ceremony.
“Abe wasn’t a fireman, nor was he a police officer. He was a regular guy, who would not abandon his friend during a harrowing ordeal, and their final moments were spent together,” said Hikind in a statement.
Reznik was commissioned by the Zelmanowitzes after they read about a painting she had done from a photograph of Police Officer Russel Timoshenko after the New York City cop was killed in the line of duty last year.
“Not only was Abe an uncle to our children but our grandchildren, and even our children’s friends,” said his sister-in-law Evelyn, adding that the family planned to hang the portrait in the living room of the house they all shared after it leaves the studio exhibition, where it is on view until September 25.
The woman reiterated the affection Abe Zelmanowitz had for people, particularly for Beyea, whom he built a cigar stand for easier access.
To this day, says Evelyn Zelmanowitz, the family receives letters from all over the world from people, who feel connected and inspired by her brother-in-law’s tragic tale of a supreme sacrifice.
Three days after the catastrophe, President George W. Bush formally recognized Abe Zelmanowitz for his ultimate act of compassion and heroism.
“We’re very grateful to Jodi Reznick for what she did for us,” concludes the woman, adding that the portrait “captured his essence.”
“It was not only a portrait of what he looked like, but a portrait of who he was,” she said.