Letter: Always Remembered

Ozzie Silna

Malibu lost a giant. Ozzie Silna — a light and a gift to so many in our community — passed away on Monday, April 25, in the midst of the Passover holiday. 

I met Ozzie 22 years ago, right about the time I became the Rabbi at Chabad of Malibu. I was in my early 20s and Ozzie was in his 60s. As a native New Yorker waiting for his car at the Texaco car wash, he was puzzled to meet a bearded Chassidic Jew living in Malibu, as he was convinced all Chassids live in Brooklyn or Israel. We began to schmooze. While I don’t recall the exact details of our conversation, I do remember it being very lively, and it was the beginning of many years of friendship, heated debates and most importantly partnership in good deeds.

Ozzie cared deeply for others and his far-reaching generosity began with the needs of our community. For as long as I knew him, Ozzie was involved in projects that benefited others, most of the time being very hands on. 

Ozzie loved Malibu and he took the matters of this city very personally. This morning, I could feel the void as I passed by Ozzie’s remote office — the Starbucks where he could often be seen meeting business associates, holding court, debating with local members of the community, clergy or offering a compassionate listening ear to a homeless fellow or random visitor. 

Over the years, Ozzie spent many a Passover Seder with our family and Chabad of Malibu. Sadly, after spending the Seder nights with his family in the hospital this year, Ozzie’s soul passed on a day after my Jewish birthday. 

It felt so surreal leading the service for a man who it seemed would live forever. One thing about Ozzie is, whether you love him or not, you’ll always remember him. The book of Ecclesiastics teaches us that “the living should take this to heart,” encouraging us to remember our departed loved ones through kind actions. Ozzie’s soul will surely live on in the good that he generated and the many people inspired to mirror his goodness on this earth.

Rabbi Levi Cunin