Wednesday, November 30, 2016
I was wrong about the Cubs!
If only Avi were able to see me proved wrong!
Tuesday, June 07, 2016
Avi remembered at Beth David; chess.
His three nephews ages 8, 7 and 5 are interested in chess. I shared with them how good their uncle was and that he played chess online.
Wednesday, February 03, 2016
Tonight begins Avi's 10th yahrzeit
I am reliving each day from Shabbat through Shabbat in detail, like it was yesterday.
Thursday, December 10, 2015
His favorite chanukiyah stands besides ours, but it continues to remain unlit.
Thursday, April 30, 2015
Avi's Passover Haggadah
This time, we had something more. I had found Avi's school Haggadah from his days at Solomon Schechter Day School. It contained the complete text and ruled pages for Avi's plentiful notes, probably from when he was in third or fourth grade.
There were the Four Questions. I heard Avi's voice chanting them as the youngest, just as he had done too many years ago.
Friday, February 13, 2015
Sunday, December 28, 2014
Many people assume that it "must" be hard on me during this time of year, especially when I layn. Why "must" I? Are there any rules that I must follow?
Rather, my focus last week was to chant the Torah at least half as well as Avi had done on his bar mitzvah and the two years since. Last Shabbat was a day for remembering Avi's bar mitzvah. There is no reason why it should have been hard. If any time "must be hard" on me, it would be Presidents Week in February.
Monday, December 15, 2014
Monday, September 01, 2014
Friday, June 20, 2014
Retiring Avi's Computer
Thursday, January 23, 2014
Avi's Eighth Yahrzeit Begins Saturday Night, January 25, 2014
Avi died during the Presidents Week school vacation. I find that period harder than even the yahrzeit. Each year from the Friday preceding the vacation through the following Friday, I recall in detail the events of each of those days back in 2006.
Sunday, December 15, 2013
December 15, 2013: Avi's 23rd Birthday
group started by his classmates, RIP Avi Lapidus.
Monday, December 02, 2013
The Fifth Night of Chanukah
His three nephews were still at our home. They were curious about Avi's photographs. How old was he in a particular photo? How old was the picture of him before a chess board?
They are not old enough to start asking "Why?"
Thursday, November 28, 2013
This year, his three small nephews - AY, Ezzy and Reuven - will be celebrating Chanukah in our home this evening for the first time. They will see all the hanukkiyot to be lighted. They will see the one that will not be. I don't know what they will make of it.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
Most of his friends are out of college. Those whom I know have found responsible positions, remain observant Jews and will contribute greatly to the betterment of this world.
I'm still using Avi's computer. Microsoft will render its operating system obsolete next April. I may take it off the Internet, but I'll have continued use for it. Avi, however, probably would have retired it long ago.
Monday, June 17, 2013
Avi Lapidus Memorial Prize
It's been a while.
On Chanukah, we again displayed Avi's chanukiya and left it unlit. On Pesach, Avi's unfilled kiddush cup remained on the table. I haven't shared with you yet the two additional verses that I've been adding for a number of years to the end of each Amidah. I'll say more about them in the future.
Yesterday was the HHNE graduation ceremony. One of the graduates had just suffered the painful death of a 14-year-old cousin a day or so before.
At least, Avi died in a bed and was buried intact.
Wednesday, February 20, 2013
It turned out that he had forgotten his tefillin. As a lefty, there was no ready replacement. After Shaharit ended, he surprised me with a big smile on his face. He was wearing tefillin! Hillel, a couple of years younger, was another lefty and he gave his tefillin to Avi.
Perhaps, I'll write about the rest of the week later.
Monday, December 31, 2012
He's still listed as a member. His status is "offline"--an understatement.
Friday, December 21, 2012
I can't be specific.
I can more than imagine what the children's and staff members' families are enduring, especially during this holiday season. I'm thinking of all the toys and other presents already purchased, which would have added to the joys of the season but are now adding to the grief.
One of the parents, maybe a few more, had the composure to speak in public about the children. For more than two years, I was unable to speak about Avi in public. I could barely speak during his unveiling.
Saturday, December 15, 2012
Avi would have been 22 today.
The massacre of children the day before changed my perspective today. Avi did not reach his 16th birthday. Yesterday's victims won't reach their 8th.
Friday, December 14, 2012
At least he died in a bed...
Wednesday, December 12, 2012
The 5th Night of Chanukah 2012
Wednesday, July 11, 2012
HHNE Avi Lapidus Memorial Award 2012
Elisha Lifshutz, whose family had moved into the Beth David community the summer after Avi's death (and thus had never met him), was the recipient last month of the annual memorial award.
Elisha is a regular synagogue attendee, as well as a frequent and accomplished ba'al qore. He plans to use his stipend for his studies in Israel next year.
Avi himself was a frequent and reliable ba'al kore at HHNE. As noted in an early post in 2006, Avi had been slated to layn Terumah, which turned out to be the sedra the week following his death.
Saturday, February 18, 2012
Thursday, February 16, 2012
Saturday, December 24, 2011
The Fifth Night of Chanuka, 21 Years Later
I couldn't help but keep back tears when I reached the verse containing the words, כִּי-אָחִיו מֵת--"because his brother is dead." (Gen 42:38) Jacob gets his son back. I don't get mine.
Thursday, December 15, 2011
Thursday, June 16, 2011
“HHNE teachers take their students’ growth personally,” said Offir Ben-Naim, who was the recipient of the Avi Lapidus Memorial Scholarship Award for his commitment to Judaism and love of technology. (Avi Lapidus was a freshman at the school when the West Hartford teen died ... in 2006.) Ben-Naim said he has learned that “by going above and beyond what is expected, you can accomplish great things,” and went on to give examples of ways the faculty at HHNE go beyond the call of duty: meeting students at Starbucks for study groups; making themselves available by phone, or inviting students over for Sabbath dinner on Friday nights.
Saturday, April 23, 2011
As the volunteer ritual director of Beth David Synagogue, it was Miki who assigned Avi to lead services on Shabbat mornings and Saturday evenings, including Avi's very last time at the amud (lectern) on February 18, 2006.
Among numerous other accomplishments, Miki held a doctorate in computer science. Who knows: perhaps that is the direction that Avi would have headed in?
On the first Tikkun Leil Shavu'ot after Avi's death, Miki dedicated his presentation to Avi. Please click the title above for the text of the dedication.
Friday, April 15, 2011
Wednesday, February 23, 2011
Sunday, January 30, 2011
Mishna Study Today in Memory of Avi
Saturday, January 29, 2011
This afternoon on the eve of Avi's fifth yahrzeit, I gave a devar torah at seudah sh'lisheet. These are the approximate words:
We just read Terumah. Avi was scheduled to layn Terumah at the Hebrew HS of New England 5 years ago after the Presidents’ Week break. That was not to be.
When he was twelve, Avi had spotted and perused in the Gibeley’s home an English translation of the 15th century commentary of Rabbi Ovadiah Sforno. When his bar mitzvah came, Avi received his own copy of that sefer from the Gibeleys.
Terumah has passage that about the commandment to fashion a golden menorah (Exodus 25:31-37. It was to be placed in the Mishkan and, later, in the Temple in Jerusalem.
I chose this passage because Avi’s lengthy bar mitzvah portion on the 8th day of Chanuka in Sefer Bamidbar concludes with the commandments on the placement and lighting of the seven wicks. I will use Rabbi Sforno’s commentary on Terumah, which refers to one of the menorah verses in the Chanuka reading.
וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנוֹרַת זָהָב טָהוֹר
וְעָשִׂיתָ מְנרַת זָהָב טָהור כֻּלָּהּ. אַחַר סִדּוּר שְׁנֵי הַכְּתָרִים, וְהֵם כֶּתֶר תּורָה בָּאָרון וְכֶתֶר מַלְכוּת בַּשֻּׁלְחָן, סִדֵּר עִנְיַן מְנורָה, מִקְשָׁה אַחַת, וְאור נֵרותֶיהָ אֶחָד, כְּאָמְרו,
וְהֵאִיר עַל עֵבֶר פָּנֶיהָ…
וְזֶה שֶׁיִּהְיֶה אור נֵרות הַיָּמִין וְנֵרות הַשְּׂמאל מְכֻוָּן אֶל הָאֶמְצָעִי. וְכֵן רָאוּי שֶׁיִּהְיֶה עִנְיַן הָאור הַשִּׂכְלִי בַּחֵלֶק הָעִיּוּנִי וְגַם כֵּן אורו בַּחֵלֶק הַמַּעֲשִׂי, שֶׁיִּהְיוּ פונִים אֶל הָאור הָעֶלְיון לְעָבְדו שְׁכֶם אֶחָד, כִּי אָז יָאִירוּ כֻלָּם, כְּמו שֶׁיָּעַד בַּמְּנורָה בְּאָמְרו "בְּהַעֲלתְךָ אֶת הַנֵּרות, אֶל מוּל פְּנֵי הַמְּנורָה יָאִירוּ שִׁבְעַת הַנֵּרות.. וְזֶה מַעֲשֵׂה הַמְּנרָה מִקְשָׁה" (במדבר ח, ב ד), כִּי בִּהְיות כָּל הָאור מְכֻוָּן לְאֶחָד בְּעִנְיַן הַמִּקְשָׁה הַמּורֶה אַחְדוּת, אָז נִרְאֶה אור כִּי יָהֵל מִן הַמָּאור הַגָּדול.
My translation with interpolations:
After God had arranged for the Crown of Torah to be placed in the Ark and the Crown of Kingship to be placed on the Shulchan (table), He arranged for a menorah to be made from pure gold and that the light of all the wicks should combine into one light, as the Torah states in verses 31 and 37:
“All of it shall be from one piece…to give off light over against it (the center lamp).”
Rabbi Sforno explains that the wicks on the right side of the menorah and the wicks on the left side should all be directed towards the wick at the center. It’s proper that this be so, because the lights on one side represent the intellectual part of the Torah, and the lights on the other side represent the performance of practical mitzvoth. They all point towards the Divine Light at the center to serve Him of one accord, because then, all will combine and illuminate together, just as it specifies in Sefer Bamidbar: “When you light the lamps, the seven lamps shall give light over against the central lamp…And this is the work of the menorah, it should be fashioned out of one piece…”
When all the light is directed to just one--just as there was just one slab of gold to teach us the lesson of unity—then the lights will be seen as shining from one great light.
The translator of Avi’s book explains: “The central theme of the menorah is unity—the unity of Israel and…of God… By bending the wicks…to the center, which represents the Divine light, we are taught that all segments of Israel and all areas of Torah are to be united together and directed to a common purpose… [T]he light of Torah and of Israel shall shine forth, emanating from the one great source of light – Almighty God.”
Avi was like the menorah, absorbing light from his Torah and rabbinic studies, and sharing light with his classmates, showing them how to perform mitzvoth such as tefilla. (I expanded on this extemporaneously)
Tuesday, January 18, 2011
Wednesday, December 15, 2010
Sunday, December 05, 2010
The Fifth Candle
Saturday, December 04, 2010
Most everybody knew why I was layning, but no one said anything.
Thursday, December 02, 2010
Again, the unlit menorah
Like the four previous years, they will remain unlit.
Labels: Aharon Yosef
Wednesday, August 18, 2010
What not to do.
I did not find it helpful when well-meaning people dropped in on the same day that Avi had died seeking details. It's natural for one to want to know details about premature deaths, but the temptation needs to be resisted.
I especially resented on the first night of our shiva for Avi the visit of one gentleman who seemed to have something other than consoling us on his mind. He was there only to satisfy his curiosity. He should have been thrown out.
Also, I have no patience for rumor-mongers, who speculate and then spread false theories about how a person died. I had heard one such foolish rumor not too long ago. I reacted in no uncertain terms.
Wednesday, June 09, 2010
The HHNE graduating class...
Sunday, April 25, 2010
I can't know to what extent he would have got involved with Facebook or what he would have made of so many of his friends and contemporaries getting duped by fake "friends," conjured up by scammers to access personal information.
I was solicited last week by a fake profile and noticed that a close relative was among those taken in. I spent the past few days warning other victims and I could not help but notice the number of those who were born in 1990 and 1991.
The first was the traditional Cup of Elijah, filled with wine after the meal but from which nobody drank.
The second was Avi's kiddush cup for Pesach, which remained empty and from which nobody drank.
The tradition is that Elijah will return.
The reality is that Avi won't.
Wednesday, February 10, 2010
Yahrzeit Minyan at HHNE
Morning services at HHNE have improved considerably since Avi's time, and he would have appreciated the improved atmosphere. The students are now divided into different minyanim (prayer groups) according to their knowledge and commitment. While he would have been with other advanced students, Avi would have missed the opportunity to help and influence those who were less familiar with the prayers.
I remembered where Avi was the very last time that we were together at HHNE, when he saw me marking my mother's yahrzeit.
That was less than three weeks before I had to start reciting Kaddish for him.
Monday, February 08, 2010
Avi's Fourth Yahrzeit, Monday Evening, February 8
Tuesday, January 12, 2010
Another gifted teenager, whose family had no reason to think that he would not return safely. And out of all the people on the bus, he was the unlucky victim.
Naturally, this story is a trigger for me, just as the newly-grieving family will experience triggers of their own in years to come.
My experience as a bereaved parent can give me only a little more insight into the bottomless pit into which the family was thrown. No words of condolence are adequate.
Avi's memorial blog provides a means for sharing and opportunities for other bereaved parents to connect with me and to allow me to bring my experiences as a rabbi and counselor to them.
I read in the paper today that his family had not known that her son was number one in his class. They will learn more good things that may surprise them. Such was the case with my son, as I recounted here back in 2006.
Saturday, December 19, 2009
Bar Mitzvah on the Eigth Day of Hanuka
Today, I chanted two sections. Like last year and the year before, I was moved by the verse in which Jacob refuses to let his youngest son, Benjamin, go down to Egypt because his full brother, Joseph, was dead, leaving Benjamin as the only son of Rachel. Jacob and I shared the same intense grief of a father who had lost a son. The difference, of course, was that Jacob got to see Joseph alive again after many years.
This morning, a new bar mitzvah boy, chanted part of the reading. Avi would have been pleased by the Hebrew Academy student's layning and by his leading the entire morning services.
I am encouraging the young man (without mentioning the reason) to layn in the future all the Torah portions that Avi would still have been chanting.
Through my layning, I memorialized Avi. I can't think of a better way, however, to perpetuate Avi's legacy than to have other b'nai mitzvah follow his example.
Tuesday, December 15, 2009
The Fifth Candle
As has been our custom, we take out Avi's hanukiya (menorah) each night of the holiday, we put in the candles, but they remain unlit.
After we lit candles from our own hanukiya, Susie and I watched the video of Avi's third grade Solomon Schechter class performing Hanuka songs on NBC30 TV, which was part of an interfaith discussion program that included Rabbi Adler.
Monday, December 07, 2009
Avi at the Hebrew Academy Science Fair 2003
Monday, November 09, 2009
Rabbi William Cohen, z"l, together again
Rabbi Cohen knew Avi, who sat almost directly below Rabbi Cohen's seat each Shabbat. Even months after Avi's death, Rabbi Cohen could not talk about him without having to suppress a tear.
At the conclusion of the internment, I spotted a few people stopping by to view Avi's headstone. I kept my distance to allow them to reflect undistracted by my presence.
Whenever I visit the cemetery for Avi, I also stop by Mo Handler's grave. Mo was a gabbai and daily attendee who had first met the ten-year-old Avi in 2000, and celebrated Avi's bar mitzvah in 2003. Mo, a nonagenerian, died a half a year after Avi.
From now on, I'll be including Rabbi Cohen in my visits. Avi was separated from Mr. Handler and Rabbi Cohen by 75 years. They are separated no more.
Thursday, October 15, 2009
The Jewish holy days came...
Susie and I did get to spend the first two days of Succot in Far Rockaway with Avi's two nephews and their parents. Life goes on, and Avi doesn't.
Had he survived...
Wednesday, July 22, 2009
Thursday, June 18, 2009
The HHNE 2009 Senior Class Yearbook
Monday, June 15, 2009
I was determined not to "rain on the parade" — literally as well as figuratively — so as not to draw too much attention away from the joys of the students and their parents. I knew that Avi would have his time.
But as soon as the graduates began their processional, dressed in their maroon graduation gowns, I shed a few tears and held back the rest. I saw how tall the students got as I imagined how Avi would have fit in.
Avi's name was mentioned on no fewer than three occasions. The first was in classmate Alex Gershman's remarks, who recalled how the class had pulled together after Avi's death to support us.
The second was the presentation of the Avi Lapidus Memorial Scholarship. This year, there was nobody involved with computer technology, so the award was given to recognize active participation in tefillot – prayer – through leading services at synagogue and at school. More than one student was deserving. The winner was Avi's old friend from all the way back in elementary school at Solomon Schechter, Ben Perlsweig.
The third was the dedication of the HHNE Yearbook to Avi. Shoshana Taube and her co-editors remembered Avi's kindness, his dedication to the mitzvot, and his eagerness to help others in Jewish observance.
I wanted to greet and thank each of the graduates quietly without a mass of people after the recessional, so I hurried out to the lobby. It was nice to talk to each classmate individually.
Frankly, I don't know whether Avi in fact would have graduated HHNE. He had thought of going to a yeshiva, where he would also have had more space for his advanced computer studies, without parents and teachers bugging him about homework!
But in the end, Avi died believing that he was at class at HHNE.