For many among several hundred mourners Wednesday in Westhampton Beach, Isidore Adelson was like the “mayor” of the community and The Hampton Synagogue where he worshipped, and his wife, Helen, was like the first lady.
The couple, who died of injuries sustained in a multivehicle crash Sunday on the Long Island Expressway that claimed the lives of four others, were remembered as pivotal figures in the dynamic synagogue.
The Adelsons were “very dedicated to this community, very passionate, very caring, very helpful,” said Cyrus Nooshin, a longtime friend from Manhasset.
Isidore, 81, and Helen, 71, were barely 20 minutes from their home in Westhampton, on their way to a wedding in New Jersey, when the BMW in which they were riding was involved in the crash, relatives said at the packed funeral service.
They were with another couple who worship at the synagogue — Marvin Tenzer, 73, who was driving the BMW, and his wife, Sandra Tenzer, 69 — as they traveled westbound.
Near Exit 68 in Manorville, a Subaru Outback that was headed east careened across a grassy median, became airborne and struck the BMW and a Honda Accord in the westbound lanes about 9:35 a.m., Suffolk police have said.
The toll was horrendous: The Subaru’s driver, Carmelo Pinales, 26, of Hicksville, and his sister, passenger Patricia Pinales, 27, of Westbury, were pronounced dead at the scene, as was Scott Martella, 29, of Northport, the driver of the Honda. Carmelo Pinales’ 10-year-old son, Cristopher, died later Sunday at Stony Brook University Hospital.
Isidore Adelson died at that same hospital Sunday night, and Helen Adelson died there Monday afternoon.
The Tenzers were injured, as were Martella’s fiancee, Patricia Pinales’ 3-year-old daughter, and Winnifer Garcia, 21, of Hempstead, a passenger in the Subaru.
Police have said the Subaru was going above the posted 55-mph limit and swerved off the roadway to avoid hitting traffic that had slowed in a work zone.
“This is one of the most senseless tragedies I have ever been witness to,” Barry Wien, a longtime friend of the Adelsons who is director of Wien & Son funeral home in West Babylon, which handled the arrangements, said at the synagogue.
Relatives and synagogue leaders told stories at the funeral about the couple and the central role they played in the congregation’s life.
Isidore, a retired attendance officer in New York City public schools, was universally known as “Itchy” — some congregants said they had to struggle to recall his real name — and was famous for the ponytail in which he wore his hair. Some called that his trademark.
Weekdays, he cooked breakfast at the synagogue almost every morning, and he presided over family meals to which pretty much anyone was invited.
At Wednesday’s service, one relative joked that she once turned to another relative at one of the gatherings and said, “Do you know anyone here?”
The Adelsons were especially known for their welcoming manner, and took it upon themselves to warmly embrace newcomers to the community, Jewish and non-Jewish alike, friends and relatives said.
“They were wonderful people, caring and giving and so civic-minded,” said longtime friend Martelle Shimony, of Dix Hills.
Helen Adelson, a retired dental hygienist, was equally involved in the synagogue, Shimony said. She was a leader of the synagogue’s chapter of Hadassah, a Jewish women’s charitable organization that among other things has helped fund hospitals in Israel.
Every year she served on the committee for the group’s annual lunch, Shimony said.
“She was creative,” Shimony added. “She was an artist.”
Rabbi Marc Schneier, the synagogue’s leader, said that rather than doing “headline-making, breathtaking deeds,” the couple “performed the ordinary extraordinarily well” — and did so to make people feel welcome and accepted.
“This was a couple that really was the epitome of friendliness, camaraderie and made everyone around them feel they belong,” friend Henry Marcus of Quogue said.
Shimony noted that both had suffered tragedies earlier in their lives when they lost spouses to illnesses. When they married each other, their children from their first marriages formed one large, united family, relatives said.
A private funeral service for Martella was held Tuesday in Dix Hills. Funeral services are scheduled Friday for the Pinaleses at 9:30 a.m. at St. Martha’s Catholic Church in Uniondale.
A previous version of this story misspelled Cristopher Pinales’ name.