Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, the popular co-director of the Chabad Jewish Center of Temecula Valley, Calif., was just diagnosed with ALS, known as Lou Gehrig’s disease. So, when his many friends, relatives, classmates and associates gathered April 3 in the Crown Heights section of Brooklyn to celebrate the bar mitzvah of his son Eli Chaim, it was a unique simcha (joyous event), filled with celebration of the present and an extra measure of prayer, hope and support for the future.

His wife and Chabad co-director Dina Hurwitz wrote on her personal blog about learning of her husband’s illness:

Walking into the Dead Sea, I am waiting for the magic. Nothing happens. I just keep walking as if it’s a regular beach. All of a sudden, I lose my balance and begin to fall. At that very moment the miracle strikes. G‑d catches me and I float, not just float, but couldn’t sink if I tried. The miracles G‑d put in nature are the most mind blowing. Air, earth and water that cure people of so many ailments. I remember thinking at that time that if all I leave here with is this lesson it would be enough. We think we are in control, and the minute we realize that we are not, G‑d catches us.

Many years pass, and every once in a while I remember how incredible it felt to be caught, then forget again. Until now.

My best friend, my rock, my husband was just diagnosed with ALS. The illusion of control was lost completely. Our silly dreams of how much fun we would have once the kids are older turned into ice cold fears.

My husband the singer, storyteller, jokester, and generally the more talkative of the two of us could not speak clearly anymore. Everything changed in an instant. Priorities took on a completely different flavor. Dreams needed to be turned into reality. All of the “if onlys” had to happen now. Now is all we know.

Eliyahu Chaim Hurwitz
Eliyahu Chaim Hurwitz

Just as our family lost our footing we were caught by hundreds of brothers and sisters, many of whom we have never met. The love that we have been showered with at this time can only be described as G‑d catching us and cradling us through His thousands of representatives on His beautiful earth.

As difficult as this time in our lives is, that is nothing compared to how beautiful it is. The amount of joy, love, support, and unity we have been privileged to experience makes me think I understand why G‑d created this world. What good He felt His creations can accomplish, and for what? We’ve never done anything that comes close to deserving this, yet here it is.

Rabbi Yitzi and Dina Hurwitz, co-directors of the Chabad Jewish Center of Temecula Valley, Calif.
Rabbi Yitzi and Dina Hurwitz, co-directors of the Chabad Jewish Center of Temecula Valley, Calif.

We have been blessed (understatement) to find out who catches us when we fall. In other words, we cannot fall, there is a beautiful net of love surrounding us.

I truly think no change is necessary. You are perfect! But if you must . . . Please do one extra kind deed daily in the merit of my husband. Thank you, you must be making G‑d so proud.

Friends have requested that those who would like to show their support visit the Hurwitz Family Fund’s Web page.