We are saddened to inform the community of the passing of Dr. Marshall Michael (Moshe Mordechai ben Nasan) Joffe z”l, a brilliant gem of our neighborhood, last Tuesday, October 5. Dr. Joffe, 59, was a gentle and kind, devoted member of the Kew Gardens Hills community, who excelled professionally as a prolific researcher of statistical science. Amongst his peers, Dr. Joffe is remembered for his groundbreaking work in causal inference, which influenced biostatistics and epidemiology. Most notable were his clinical research advances in nephrology and his teaching career as a longtime professor at the University of Pennsylvania. Many of his revolutionary ideas and philosophies were detailed in published journals.
Dr. Joffe’s p’tirah follows a long and heroic struggle with multiple sclerosis, widely spent at the Margaret Tietz Nursing and Rehabilitation Center. Following his diagnosis, Dr. Joffe continued to travel out to UPenn via train, a strenuous journey upwards of three hours each way, out of respect he had for his professional field. These trips gained him further respect from colleagues and students alike, so much so that many would visit him regularly during his stay at Tietz and, as well, came to impart a final farewell at his l’vayah.
“I developed a close bond with Dr. Joffe during his years at Margaret Tietz,” explained Rabbi Zavel Pearlman, the on-site rabbi. “Our staff, both Jewish and non-Jewish, were moved by the great kindness and humility of this special person as he navigated his trials and tribulations.” Prior to becoming a long-term resident at Tietz, Dr. Joffe had several short stays. During this period, he made a lasting impact on staff and residents. “He became close to his attendants and the Yeshiva Chofetz Chaim bachurim who came to assist in making our daily minyanim,” added Rabbi Pearlman. “On a personal note, I found it a privilege to be able to help Dr. Joffe put on his tefillin each morning. I will hold close these interactions.”
“Dr. Joffe was a brilliant scholar who was loved and respected at Margaret Tietz,” explained Linda Spiegel, Director of Public Affairs at Margaret Tietz Center. “He was often engrossed in his computer work, but always stopped to acknowledge our staff, thank them for even the most basic of care, and engage with them on the topics he was studying, treating every person he encountered as his equal with the same importance as the next. Dr. Joffe regularly made time to FaceTime with his beloved family.
Dr. Joffe, a graduate of Harvard University, was buried in Israel. He is survived by his beloved wife Lisa, to whom he showed much dedication, his mother Roslyn, his brother Sandor, his sister Elana Cohen, his colleagues, and students. He will be remembered by his stellar international reputation, the Marshall Joffe Epidemiologic Methods Research Award of the Department pf Biostatistics Epidemiology and Informatics, and by the inspiration he gave to others.
We will publish a detailed hesped on the life and legacy of Dr. Joffe in the coming weeks from Rav Moshe Rosenberg, Rabbi of Congregation Etz Chaim.
By Shabsie Saphirstein