I’m sitting here in Israel, trying to share my thoughts . . . Tears are literally hitting my iPad while I try to make sense of this huge loss.

I just got a dreaded call from my father, informing me of a dear friend’s passing. A man who cared for me, helped me, believed in me and showed me what a person can accomplish.

Steve Giles, one of the greatest people I have ever encountered, is not with us anymore.

I met Steve at services at his favorite synagogue, Chabad of Northridge, one Shabbat day. By divine providence, I sat right next to him. I introduced myself and he was shocked to hear my significant stutter.

He never agreed to be compensated

You see, Steve stuttered, overcame it, and then helped others work on overcoming their stutters. He offered to help me with my stutter. For a full year, Steve drove 45 minutes, rain or shine, and sat with me for an hour as he taught me all he knew to help me with my stutter.

He never agreed to be compensated, but rather insisted that "any and all help that I give you is to be considered a donation to Chabad in the Rebbe's memory." (This is verbatim from an e-mail he sent me before we began our therapy.)

Steve taught me to be calm, never be afraid of a situation, and speak slowly. Just thinking of Steve's soft, calming voice chokes me up now. An older man who cared for an 18-year old away from home, living and learning in Los Angeles, just isn't the norm. He called me his “little rabbi,” his man of G‑d. He was always thinking how the other person felt and how he could help him.

At the end of every session, I made a point to say, "Steve, thanks for jump-starting my week." I know that sentiment really affected him, and that it spoke to his heart.

Later, when I moved to learn elsewhere, I had periods when I would call him every Sunday just to speak to him and catch up. As we ended our calls, he always said, "Shalom, I hope I jump-started your week, 'cuz you sure jump-started mine!"

Steve always had me read his favorite chapter in Psalms as fluently as I was able. He made me feel so calm that I read it so well and smoothly. Now, as I mourn his loss, one line sticks out in my mind: "He restores my soul. He guides me in straight paths for His name’s sake. Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou are with me; thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me."1

During our sessions in Los Angeles about four years ago, we spoke about how great it would be when he would come celebrate at my wedding. The way he spoke about it showed me how he truly believed in me. He knew that my stutter couldn’t and wouldn’t hold me back from whatever I tried to do. Rather, it could only add a special dimension to my unique journey. Steve will definitely be at my wedding, and I will be thinking of him. I hope to make him proud. He was living proof of how a kid with an intense stutter can have a great family, a loving wife, a job helping other people, all while being a wonderful, happy person.

I challenge you, dear reader, to make aHe knew that my stutter wouldn't hold me back resolution to call a friend every Sunday and jump-start his or her week, the way Steve and I did. It can be a two-minute call or a half-hour chat. Just to show the person you care and are thinking of them.

I will be starting a "Steve call" this Sunday, and it will be in his memory.

Steve, I will miss you so very deeply, and you will always live on in me and whatever I accomplish.

I love you, Steve.

May Ivy Giles (Steve’s wife) have many long, healthy, happy and successful years, and may she be comforted among all mourners of Zion.