Southern Brooklyn has a lot less spirit this morning, as a kindly Herculean rabbi — infamous for donning bright orange Speedos while plunging every New Year’s Day into the freezing Atlantic waters off Brighton Beach, and who once froze himself for 54 hours and 54 minutes in an ice shack in a bid to outdo magician David Blaine — has died.
The silver-haired Rabbi Abraham Abraham, a fabled member of the Coney Island Ice-Breakers and local legend known throughout Brighton Beach, Coney Island and Sheepshead Bay, whose uniquely molded facial hair earned him top honors one year in Coney Island’s beard competition, was beloved for his inexorably adventurous nature and uncanny ability to bring a smile to the face of young and old alike, with his trademark aphorism: “Thank you for being you.”
A one-time King Neptune of the Mermaid Parade, sharing that coveted title with the likes David Byrne, Harvey Keitel, Moby, and Lou Reed, the rabbi — whose age was always kept a secret, and who never revealed from where he achieved rabbinic ordination — was fond of imparting Solomon-esque wisdom, most notably, with regard to his sculpted physique, which he claimed was from a diet of “organic kosher food.”
“Your strength lays in your blood, and you only are what you eat,” the rabbi commented on a YouTube video, after also explaining that members of the Ice-Breakers, the splinter group he founded after being booted from the Coney Island Polar Bears, “parachute” and “walk on fire.”
Dick Zigun, the longtime “Mayor of Coney Island,” and founder of Coney Island USA and Sideshows by the Seashore, expressed his sadness on the Coney Island Message Board:
I am sorry he has passed… an original Coney Island character… in the tradition of Mighty Atom and other Brooklyn Jewish strongmen… a hardcore member of the Polar Bear Club ready to pose for any camera during any February blizzard… the poor man’s David Blaine… the founder of the Ice Bears once the Polar Bears threw him out of their club… a pain in the behind at the Mermaid Parade and yet my choice one insane summer for King of the Mermaid Parade… I will miss him! R.I.P.
Another commenter, who goes by the handle “Bogframe,” shared that, “He was definitely the coolest rabbi I’ve known. I’ll have to say Kaddish for him,” referring to the Jewish liturgical prayer of mourning the deceased.
The cause of death was unknown at press time. Funeral services are being held for the rabbi at 2 p.m. today at Beth David Cemetery in Elmont, Queens.