Letters to the Editor, Opinions

Letter: In memory of Noah Arnold ’20

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Courtesy of Reisa Mukamal

To the Editor:

Noah Solomon Mukamal Arnold ’20 of Swarthmore, Pennsylvania died on Dec. 29, 2016. Noah was the beloved son of Reisa Mukamal and Steven Arnold of Swarthmore; brother and brother-in-law of Zachary Arnold and Molly Wasser, Benjamin Arnold and Samuel Arnold; and grandson of Jeanne and Bernard Arnold, Florence Appel and Meir Mukamal. A bright, compassionate young man, Noah hid a despair from all who loved him so dearly, tragically leading him to take his own life at the age of 19.

Born Nov. 12, 1997 at Pennsylvania Hospital, Noah was an effervescent young child who thrived amid his older brothers and friends. He began school at Swarthmore Presbyterian Nursery Day School and continued in the Wallingford Swarthmore School District. For years, he studied piano with Chris Emata, and, with a restless hunger for mastery and knowledge that would come to define him, took full advantage of Strath Haven’s Summer Band Camp, learning many instruments. He studied bassoon with Roberta Winemiller, becoming a member of the Delaware County Youth Orchestra, Philadelphia Sinfonia and Rose Tree Pops. He also played trombone with the high school marching band and sang with the Silvertones, fortunate to be part of their concert tour of Sicily in 2015.

Noah swam on the Swarthmore Swim Club swim team from the age of five to 12, and played freshman soccer and ran cross-country in high school. He competed in the Science Olympiad, the FIRST Robotics Competition (Team 486) and the PA Envirothon, and was an editor for the Panther Press. He liked to work with his hands and taught himself to craft jewelry out of coins.

Always independent, he arranged to graduate high school early and spend his senior year in an educational program on Kibbutz Tzuba in Jerusalem, followed by volunteering at Lindforst Alpakas, an alpaca farm in Bavaria. He had been lucky enough to travel to Germany previously through his German classes’ exchange programs.

Noah’s first job was at Congregation Beth Israel of Media, where he taught Jewish ethics in the Hebrew school under Principal Helene Cohen and Rabbi Linda Potemken. During the summer of 2014, he worked as a mechanic’s assistant at King’s Automotive in Swarthmore and, on his return from Israel and Germany, waited tables at Warmdaddy’s restaurant and blues club in Philadelphia. His favorite job was as sales assistant at Seven Stones Gallery in Media, under owners Denise and Nick Yocco, with whom he developed a special friendship.

Noah completed his freshman fall semester at Brown. He intended to major in mathematics, which he considered the purest form of truth, but was cultivating a growing interest in the fine arts. Despite Noah’s personal struggles, he fully engaged in his studies at Brown and formed cherished new relationships. A Ginkgo biloba tree was dedicated in his memory May 5, 2017 outside the List Art Building, with Noah’s friends, teachers and family in attendance.

A memorial service was held Jan. 3, 2017 at Congregation Beth Israel. The family has greatly appreciated the outpouring of love and support from Noah’s friends and from the community shown then and over the past year.

Donations in Noah’s memory may be sent to Mighty Writers at 1501 Christian Street, Philadelphia, PA 19146, whose mission is to fill the literacy gap for kids ages seven to 17 in Philadelphia.

Reisa Mukamal and Steven Arnold

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  1. Philindo Marsosudiro says:

    Dear Ms. Mukamal and Mr. Arnold — please accept my condolences on the loss of your dear Noah. In your writing, I can see Noah’s warmth and also the way he lived so fully across every dimension he could find. Though I never met your son, your words remind me of one of my schoolmates at Brown (30 years ago) who also “despite personal struggles… fully engaged at Brown and formed cherished relationships. I know that Noah’s Brown friends will keep him in their hearts forever.

    Phil Marsosudiro ’89

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