Dr. Ahmed Jaber, a beloved and revered Bay Ridge community leader Dr. Ahmad Jaber, known nationally and locally for founding numerous social justice, religious, and interfaith organizations including the Arab American Association of New York passed away this week at the age of 73.
“[It’s] hard to imagine a Bay Ridge without Dr. J. His arrival in this neighborhood in 1975 started a ripple effect that lasted for generations. He did so much to establish the Arab community here but he also did so much for his fellow neighbors of all backgrounds. Whenever I called on him for counsel, or wanted to reach out to the Arab community, he greeted me with open arms,” said City Councilmember Justin Brannan (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bath Beach, Bensonhurst).
“Dr. J was an old school bridge-builder. A benefactor. A man of faith and compassion. He was a giant whose reputation preceded him, but his humility was unmatched. He is irreplaceable, but his constant investment in the generations after him will continue to reap enormous benefits for our city, state, and country,” he added.
Dr. Jaber was born in the Palestinian village of Yamoun as the youngest of 5 children. He emigrated to the United States in 1974, and began his medical residency at Lutheran Medical Center in Sunset Park, where he was affiliated for his entire career. He became a board-certified OB-GYN and moved to Bay Ridge, where he remained for the rest of his life.
Throughout the course of his career as an OBGYN, Dr. Jaber personally delivered over 5,000 babies. He established a private practice on 5th Avenue in Bay Ridge, where he became a mainstay of the community. Joining forces with a then-nascent community of Arab-American doctors in the United States, he founded the National Arab-American Medical Association in 1975.
In May of 2001, Dr. Jaber alongside other community leaders founded the Arab American Association of New York, which began in a small office on the second floor of Dr. Jaber’s 5th Avenue practice. The organization started as a one-room social service agency, and is now a well-established nonprofit and advocacy agency serving 10,000+ people a year. He remained on the Board of the organization his entire life.
Dr. Jaber was also an Imam, who served at the State Street mosque in downtown Brooklyn, one of the oldest mosques in the United States. His religious and interfaith work touched many areas of New York City, through multiple organizations he helped to found or lead: the Al-Noor Islamic School, Beit Al-Maqdis Islamic Center, and the Brooklyn Heights Interfaith Clergy Association, among others.
Above all, Dr. Jaber was known for his generosity and his reputation as a bridge-builder. He is personally credited with helping to establish countless newly-arrived Arab immigrant families in Brooklyn, hailing from Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, Morocco, Egypt, Yemen and elsewhere. He was civically active and often acted as a liaison to political groups, elected officials, and institutions on behalf of the growing Arab and Muslim community, thorough organizations like the Arab American Federation, the Muslim Democratic Club of New York, and Yalla Brooklyn.
The presence of a large, diverse, and civically engaged Arab and Muslim community in Bay Ridge, Brooklyn is in large part due to Dr. Jaber’s work – professionally, civically, and personally.
“I am deeply saddened by the loss of Dr. Ahmad Jaber, who dedicated his entire life to helping others. As Board President and one of the original founders of the Arab American Association of New York, Dr. Jaber’s contributions to our community are countless and can never be forgotten. He was my friend, too. Someone I respected and admired. My heart goes out to his family and to the Arab and Muslim community for this tremendous loss. May his memory be eternal,” said State Sen. Andrew Gournardes (D-Bay Ridge, Dyker Heights, Bensonhurst, Bath Beach, Gravesend, Gerritsen Beach, Manhattan Beach, Marine Park).
Dr. Jaber is survived by his wife Najah; his children Reem, Ramee, Ranee, Omar, Waseem, and Faris; and his grandchildren Deen, Hana, Zayn, Faisal, Leena, Elijah, Noah, Iris, and Eisa.
Janaza or funeral services for Dr. Jaber were held at 11 a.m., today, Friday, December 11 at the Beit Al-Maqdis Islamic Center at 6206 6th Avenue.