A moving profile of a WW2 vet and current client of the seniors meals program offered by Jewish Community Services of South Florida.
By Marvin Glassman, Contributing writer
David Jaffe of Aventura first discovered his ability to draw faces of people at age 14 and has never stopped drawing for the next 78 years.
The Jewish World War II veteran at age 91 brings smiles to the many faces he draws of children from various local Jewish day schools, such as Scheck Hillel Community School, who visit him weekly each Friday at the Jewish Community Services of South Florida Senior Meals program at the Michael-Ann Russell Jewish Community Center in North Miami Beach.
“I started drawing as a child myself and really enjoy the spontaneity of seeing the kids being happy when they have a drawing of themselves that they can show to their friends and parents. I started doing these pencil sketches of the kids in 2013 at the senior meal site and must have drawn the faces of 75 or more children,” said Jaffe.
“David’s talent comes just from his natural ability to sketch from what he saw. He developed an instinct to capture the drawings in a way to highlight each child,” said John Adams, who has known Jaffe for three years, eating at the same table in the JCS Senior Meals program.
Along with his talent for creating sketch portraits, Jaffe is popular among the seniors at the JCS program for fondly recalling his years in advertising and socializing with the many seniors while having lunch together.
After graduating from State University of New York, Jaffe, a native New Yorker, spent most of his working career using his ability to understand the use of imagery and illusion as a graphic designer and an art director of several top advertising agencies in New York.
“I felt I knew enough from my work at Madison Avenue (the location of the major New York advertising firms) to branch out on my own for 10 years. I never enjoyed the field as much as I did when I ran my own company,” said Jaffe.
Jaffe developed a novel use of drawing sketches as a passion since he retired from advertising.
He created an original framed watercolor of President George H.W. Bush, which Jaffe auctioned to raise funds for the Foundation for Advancement in Cancer Therapy.
Jaffe is proud of the watercolor he created of Albert Einstein.
“I value the sketches of the children from everyday life that I draw, but the watercolor I made of Einstein is very precious to me.”
Jaffe joined the U.S. Army at age 18 and served admirably from 1943-46, receiving The Bronze Medal and Three Battle Stars for his bravery in WWII, where he was stationed in the Philippines, as well as a Certificate of Recognition from the Secretary of Defense.
“In my unit, I learned that Japanese soldiers were attempting to steal our food supplies in hoping we would surrender to them. I let my commander know of their plans and we sabotaged their plans,” said Jaffe, who ended his career in the U.S. Army as a corporal.
Later in life, Jaffe spoke as a lecturer in military tactics for the Israeli army from 1983-86. He also served as the chairman of the State of Israel Bonds at his congregation in Freeport, NY in 1983.
In 2001, Jaffe’s achievements both in the military and as artist earned him an inclusion in “Who’s Who in America.”
In recent years, Jaffe has taught basic watercolor to students on Sunday mornings and has been a cantor at Del Prado Minyan Condominium in Aventura, leading services each Friday night and Shabbat morning since 2012.
“David has been superb at leading services and having decorum for all he does at his age,” said Bernie Segal, past president of Del Prado Minyan Condominium.
Above all else, Jaffe treasures being with seniors close to his age at the JCS program, as well as being with his family of two daughters and five grandchildren who all live in New York.
Jaffe feels that his life is blessed because he is the eternal optimist.
“The secret to a long and happy life is to take a negative situation and find a positive side because that will make the days easier,” said Jaffe.
To learn more about the seniors meals program offered by Jewish Community Services of South Florida, 735 NE 125th St. in North Miami, call 305-576-6550 or go to www.jcsfl.org