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Our verbal sparring was delightful, challenging, and mind opening August 7, 2008

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Alan Feigenberg, Bronx, NY
Professor of Architecture, CCNY

I first met Ira after returning from a trip to China in 1973. I began working with the U.S.-China Peoples Friendship Association with Ira’s wife Esther and periodically would meet Esther and Ira for dinner in Chinatown….a meal with brown rice and an organic, healthy Chinese cuisine (no msg), and always a heated discussion about China, the U.S. and the world. Over the years Ira was always available for dialogue…and healthy Chinese food, interlaced and sprinkled with appropriate quotes from Shakespeare, Byron, Marx, and Mao Zedong.

Ira was someone who challenged me to think more independently and critically, always with a wry sense of humor, verbal puns, and strong convictions. Our verbal sparring was delightful, challenging, and mind opening. Not one for small talk, Ira would greet me with a handshake and a “so, what do you think about the revisionist trend in China?” or “didn’t you feel the Guardian article was a bit simplistic in its analysis?”

There were several occasions when I referred some of my Haitian architecture students to Ira for immigration issues, and they always came back with a great appreciation for Ira’s professional assistance, but also for his knowledge and empathy of their nation’s history, their sufferings, and their struggles. If they were strapped for money, which most of them were, Ira would still counsel and guide them, often representing them in immigration hearings, and tell them, “when you’re settled and making some money, then we’ll talk about it some more.”

Ira’s life and career have been that of a generous person committed to the ideas and ideals of true human equality.

Ira, thanks for your inspiration, your energy, your humor and your humanism.

Ira, la lucha continua!


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