I am sitting here with tears streaming down my face. It is Friday afternoon. I don’t know what I am writing. I don’t know to whom I am writing. But I know I need to write.

I just spent the past hour reading some of Jay’s articles. Then I read his past emails to me. I want to email him back. But I know it won’t help. I want him to know that he changed my life, that he inspired me, that he gave me strength, confidence and support.

We never even met. But through email and phone calls I felt I gained a mentor, someone whose opinion I valued and whose advice I respected. I never thought that I would first see him as he lay wrapped in a tallit at his funeral.

Like many others in my Jerusalem neighborhood, I knew who Jay Litvin was. He was a phenomenal writer. He helped run the Chabad's Terror Victims Organization and was medical liaison for Children of Chernobyl. And then there was the August 20th bombing, and friends of mine were seriously injured. It was only then that I discovered who Jay truly was.

Needless to say, the Chabad Terror Victims Organization helped incredibly. They gave financial assistance, support, and whatever help they could. But Jay offered something more than that—himself. He personally searched for doctors who could perform plastic surgery on the baby’s shrapnel-filled face. He made sure that the family not only had what was needed, but what was wanted. And he never stopped calling and never stopped asking and never stopped caring.

Jay was someone who would email to see if I was feeling better after I happened to mention that I had a tough week. Jay was someone who would always have time to discuss a problem or situation, and gave his undivided attention to every detail. And he was someone who would tell me not to do something, even if it would have benefited him or his organization, if he felt it was not in my own best interest.

The last time I spoke with Jay, he had just been readmitted to the hospital. It was around Purim time, and although he was bed-ridden he spent over an hour giving me advice regarding my writing, job offers, and career direction. He tried, as always, to be positive and even joked that the drugs he had been given were pretty great and wondered how he could stash a few on the side in case the nurses wouldn’t give him anymore.

At some point in our conversation, the line cut off. I meant to call right back but somehow got distracted. Calling him has actually been on my "things to do list" since that very day. I figured he had returned home by now. For, you see, he never actually told me that he wasn’t doing so well. He merely said that there were some days that were better than others, and he tried to use the good ones to his greatest potential, since he never knew how many there would be.

I never did call him back.

I wish I had.

He gave me so much and I never even had the chance to say "thank you." It was really a one-sided relationship. He gave. I received. He cared. I benefited. He spoke. I listened. And when I spoke, he really, really, listened. I can only imagine how many lives he touched, and can only hope that the lessons he taught me will allow me to help others. I have met few people as special as Jay, and he is definitely the kind I want to emulate.

For me, this was Jay Litvin:

"…I'm not thanking you from our organization. I'm thanking you simply because when one Jew does a kindness for another it is deserving of thanks from all Jews. And you are deserving of this thanks."


With Jay now fighting for us on high, may we merit that he use his incredible spirit to convince the Almighty that we have suffered enough. May he be the last neshama to leave this world, and the first to return to us with our Righteous Redeemer.