During his 39 years of life, Rabbi Yehuda (“Yudi”) Dukes touched countless lives. As director of JNet, which connects people for weekly remote Torah-learning sessions, he brought the joy of Torah accomplishment to Jews on every continent. With his near-perpetual smile and genuine interest, he made lifelong friends wherever he went, making each person feel as if he were their special friend, which they truly were.

To honor a year since his passing, family, friends and the worldwide community gathered in person and online for an evening of tribute on Monday, 8 Shevat, Jan. 10, at 7 p.m. Eastern Standard Time. The event, to be streamed on Chabad.org, contained a blend of memories, Torah learning, music and important updates on how JNet has grown and will continue to flower a monument to his life work.

In the 10 months between falling ill with Covid in the spring of 2020 and his passing a year ago, he and his wife—composer Sarah Dukes—inspired thousands with their faith, dedication and hope.

Dukes had directed JNet from 2006 until the day of his passing, even making calls and arranging Torah matches from his bed when possible. Personable and solicitous to a fault, he was made for the job, remembering everyone’s name, the name of their study partner and their study preferences off the top of his head.

A beloved Torah reader and mentor in his community of Cedarhurst, N.Y., he was a role model of a busy family man who made time for focused Torah learning and emotion-laden prayer.

Even in the darkest times of his suffering, when he was on ECMO for weeks on end and had not spoken for months, Sarah Dukes’s social-media feed was a fountain of raw emotion and endless positivity, from which thousands drew inspiration and encouragement.

The event featured lecturer Rabbi Shais Taub, as well as musical performers and cousins Benny Friedman and Eli Marcus.