Rob Gartenberg: I will always remember my mother’s cousin Manny (as he called himself after settling in the USA) as a witty man with a generous spirit, a sparkle in his eye and a razor-sharp intellect. We always knew him as Mani, for he was born Manuel Leonid Landau, the initials of his name derived from those of his grandfather, Leibish Mendel Landau, a well-respected rabbi. Leibish’s wife, Ettl Schächte, once said of Manny as a boy: “Das Kind hat kein Ernst in sich, er will nur spielen!” (The child has no earnestness, he just wants to play). Well, later in life he certainly did develop his serious side, becoming a widely respected professor and medical researcher. But it’s true, he never lost his appetite for laughter. His maternal grandfather was Josef Ohrenstein, who founded and ran the Jewish Hospital in Czernowitz.
After being interned in Transnistria, Manny, his parents and his maternal grandfather managed to get onto one of the last boats to Palestine, where people started calling him Emmanuel. This name found its way onto many personal documents, so, to avoid confusion he changed his name to Emmanuel Manuel and dropped the Leonid. His father, Jakob Landau was an eye doctor, his mother, Ida Ohrenstein, worked for a well-known publishing company. Sadly, Manny was not an eager correspondent, so our intermittent meetings were my only opportunity to benefit from his very extensive knowledge and wisdom. I never had a boring conversation with him and wish we’d lived closer together and that our paths had crossed more often. That, in itself, is a tribute to his character: he was someone you wanted to spend time with. My mother grew up with him in Czernowitz, where he lived in Herrengasse (she lived in Taboragasse), close to the old synagogue. Mani was like a younger brother to her and life was good until the Red Army marched in and many Jews had to flee (she among them, though they were later reunited in Palestine). Mani also had an eccentric side to him, accompanying every dinner with a lemon, cut into seven equal pieces, which he then ate. I cannot recall the significance of this, but it gives a small insight into his nature, showing that he liked to give life meaning. He married twice, having two children of whom he was very proud with his second wife, and his last decades were spent living with a third companion, first in New York, then in Atlanta. He is – and will remain – sorely missed by his family.
Click here for the obituary published by the Mount Sinai Alumni Relations Team!