Irving “Srulke” Borenstein, 95, of Brooklyn died April 2, 2020. He was born to Polish immigrant parents in the Brownsville section of Brooklyn and also had lived in the Williamsburg and Sheepshead Bay sections before moving to Brooklyn’s Mill Basin neighborhood in 1960.
After his father died when he was 15 years old, he became a full-time operator of the family grocery store. He was also a Zionist activist and, as a teen in 1937, designed and built a summer camp in Lakewood called Hachshara, now known as Bnei Akiva.
With the rise of Nazism in Germany, at 17, he successfully lied about his age and joined the U.S. Army. He was assigned to artillery and seriously injured in France, remaining a member of the Disabled American Veterans for his entire life. At age 22, he was in a unit that liberated his future wife, Miriam Hoffman, and as the only Yiddish speaker in his unit, he came to work in and manage a 60,000-person displaced persons camp, where he met Hoffman, an Auschwitz death camp survivor.
After returning to the United States, he immediately opened Tiv Tov, hardware and house furnishing stores in Williamsburg and Borough Park, Brooklyn. Tiv Tov was the first store in the United States to have a keilim mikveh for dishes. He was also an active real estate investor in the New York metropolitan area.
In 1981, at age 56, he “retired” from Tiv Tov and became a matriculated student at Brooklyn College, graduating at age 60 and earning an M.S. as valedictorian at Yeshiva University’s Wurzweiler School of Social Work at age 62.
A philanthropist, he was involved with a myriad of Jewish causes, most notably Flatbush Park Jewish Center in Mill Basin, where he served in every major lay capacity, and Familial Dysautonomia, a genetic disorder that affects the autonomic and sensory nervous systems and occurs almost exclusively among children with Ashkenazi heritage.
Predeceased by a son, Dovie, in 1990, he is survived by his wife, Miriam; his daughter, Hindy (Michael) Kierman of East Brunswick; his son, Avi (Sharon) of Springfield; seven grandchildren; and seven great-grandchildren.
Graveside services were held April 3; a memorial service will be held at a later date. Memorial contributions may be made to Familial Dysautonomia Foundation or Flatbush Park Jewish Center.