Dr. Harold Lawrence Karasic is being remembered for his passion for helping others — patients, family members, and the Jewish community.
Known as Larry, 83, of Ocean Township, he died Dec. 22 at Monmouth Medical Center (MMC) in Long Branch.
A longtime leader of the Jewish community, he served as president of the Jewish Federation of Monmouth County, now the Jewish Federation in the Heart of New Jersey.
“Larry was so much more than an anesthesiologist,” said community activist JoAnn Abraham of Manalapan, in an e-mail to NJJN. “He was a caring friend to his patients, making time to check in with them and their families before and after surgery. He was a philanthropic community leader with a huge heart. His passion for tzedakah — justice — knew no bounds.”
Karasic practiced at MMC for more than 40 years, including a stint as chief of anesthesia. Upon retirement, he became a volunteer there, serving as its director of introduction to hospital care through which he mentored future medical students in the Monmouth Scholars program. “He was very highly regarded” at MMC, said Rabbi Aaron Schonbrun of Congregation Torat El in a phone interview.
Karasic “was a proud Zionist and proud of his Jewish identity,” said Schonbrun, who officiated at the funeral, held Dec. 24 at Torat El in Oakhurst. “He treated and cared about everybody regardless of their religion or culture. He respected all humanity and treated everybody with care and compassion.”
Despite having been stricken with cancer for years, said Schonbrun, Karasic had “a real sense of gratitude for what he had,” including his career; Honey, his wife of 56 years; and his children and grandchildren.
“He took such pride in their accomplishments,” said the rabbi. “He had a real appreciation of life. He came to minyan regularly. He was an inspiration, always wanting to do for others. He was just a wonderful, kind, caring mensch, and I will miss him greatly.”
Abraham — who was editor of The Jewish Voice, the former Monmouth federation’s newspaper, and served as director of communication projects for what is now Jewish Federations of North America — said Karasic’s “interests were catholic, his friends legion, and his impact was huge.” He volunteered at the hospital “because he knew that often those facing medical decisions needed a sounding board or a hug or a kind face.”
Abraham also said she knew Karasic as “a proud Jew” who visited Israel many times and was a strong supporter of his synagogue.
For staff members at the Jewish federation, said Abraham, he was “a booster, a cheerleader, a volunteer leader who appreciated the work of the professionals. He was always ready with a joke, even in his last years.”
Abraham added that Karasic “adored his wife; he thought she was the best thing that ever happened to him and sang her praises widely.”
One of six children born to Rebecca and Reuben Karasic in Asbury Park, Karasic attended Ursinus College in Pennsylvania from 1952 to 1956, and medical school at Hahnemann University in Philadelphia from 1956 to 1960, remaining for a residency program in anesthesia. As a Navy lieutenant, he served as the base anesthesiologist in Guantanamo Bay, Cuba, from 1963 to 1965.
Karasic served as president of the NJ State Society of Anesthesiologists, Hahnemann Medical School Alumni Association, and the Jewish Community Center of Monmouth County in Deal. He also was on the board of the Axelrod Performing Arts Center in Deal.
In eulogies provided to NJJN by the family, daughter Shara Karasic said her father, despite many health issues, “through sheer force of will,” lived “a fantastic life.”
Emily Karasic, 19, said she will continue to look up to her grandfather “forever. Losing your grandpa is hard, but losing your best friend is a million times harder. There are no words for how much we will miss you and how much everyone loves you.”
Gabriel Parnell, 14, called his grandfather “one of the biggest influences in my life” and credited him with convincing him to have a bar mitzvah, which “was one of the most amazing events that I have ever experienced — and it’s all thanks to him.”
“He allowed me to become the Jewish man I am today,” said Gabriel.
Karasic is also survived by his sons Robert (Angela) and Neal (Michelle Stern); daughter Leslie (Josh Rodriguez); and four other grandchildren.
Funeral arrangements were by Woolley-Boglioli Funeral Home, Long Branch; interment was at Agudath Achim Cemetery, Neptune. Donations may be made in Karasic’s memory to the Axelrod Performing Arts Center.