Thursday, April 30, 2015

Avi's Passover Haggadah

This year, at our sedarim, we continued our custom of placing a second empty wine cup on our table. The first was for Eliyahu. The second was Avi's cup.

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

Ninth Yahrzeit

Avi's yahrzeit starts tonight. I posted on Facebook and friends and acquaintances have been commenting all day.

Sunday, December 28, 2014

Chanuka 2014

Avi was born on a Saturday night on the 5th night of Chanuka. Once again, the 5th night fell on Saturday night. And once again, I layned Mikketz from the Torah.

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

Today is Avi's 24th Birthday.

Monday, September 01, 2014

Comment on Charles Blow's Page

Friday, June 20, 2014

Retiring Avi's Computer

I retired Avi's computer earlier this year. I kept it in service long after he would have. Avi had built his computer over eight years ago. He had perfected his coding, web design and chess skills on it. After over eight years, the hardware could no longer keep up with the newer technology. At least he got to enjoy it for a half a year. It's staying with us and we can get occasional, off-line use from it.

Thursday, January 23, 2014

Avi's Eighth Yahrzeit Begins Saturday Night, January 25, 2014

The yahrzeit this year is nearly a month ahead of the civil date, February 23.

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

Tributes are being left today on my Facebook page and on the open Facebook
group started by his classmates, RIP Avi Lapidus.

Monday, December 02, 2013

The Fifth Night of Chanukah

Last night was Avi's 23rd Hebrew birthday.

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


The candles in Avi's hanukkiya remain unlit. I don't say anything. I let the hanukkiya speak for itself.

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.

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Tuesday, October 22, 2013

IT Pro

I've been following some of the writings of IT pros about the computer problems plaguing the enrollments for the Affordable Care Act. Are they primarily hardware or software issues? Avi would have been the family's expert on the subject. Who knows--perhaps he would have been part of the solutions.

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

On a happier note, Michael Edery was the recipient yesterday of the Avi Lapidus Memorial Prize. I understand that Michael is competent in computer technology and he will study it next fall in college. I hope to learn more.

It's been a while.

It's been a while since I last posted. I was planning to post on Avi's 22nd birthday last December 15. However, it was the day after the events of December 14. (I'm not specific so that search engines do not intrude on what others might be looking for.) I have too good an idea what those parents, the parents of the bombing victim, the parents of the school children in Oklahaoma, as well as those parents whose children's deaths did not make the national news are and will continue to be going through.

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

President's Week each year has me reliving Avi's final days. He sat next to me Shabbat morning. He led Maariv that evening. We needed him for a minyan Sunday morning. He was feeling tired, nothing that struck as as unusual, but when we called him to come, he came.

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


I just discovered another computer and gaming Internet board that Avi had contributed to: KnowledgeSutra.

He's still listed as a member. His status is "offline"--an understatement.

Friday, December 21, 2012

I can't be specific.

I've been avoiding mentioning names, the location or other specifics about the deaths one week ago to avoid having my posts show up on search engine results meant for the victims.

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.

Once again, I layned Avi's bar mitzvah sedra, Mikketz.

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...

May the parents and family members today find strength over the coming months and years.

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

The 5th Night of Chanukah 2012

Tonight would have been Avi's 22nd Hebrew birthday. Avi's computer is still alive. Who know--maybe it will last longer than 15 years. Avi now has three nephews. The two older ones, Aharon Yosef and Ezzie, now 5 and 3 respectively, have seen our pictures of their uncle displayed in our home, so they have some awareness. They'll of course start asking more questions as they get older and visit us. They would have had a lot of fun and learning together. I can only fantasize...

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


The Shabbat afternoon, Monday, Thursday layning this week was the last Torah portion that Avi prepared for. He was scheduled to read it at school. He never got to.

Thursday, February 16, 2012

Sixth Yahrzeit

This Shabbat will be Avi's sixth yahrzeit, which we'll observe at Beth David Synagogue. Everyone in attendance will know about it, but I wonder how many will actually mention Avi's name and share memories, versus how many will feel too awkward? Silence is painful.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

The Fifth Night of Chanuka, 21 Years Later

On the fifth night of Chanuka 21 years ago, Avi came into this world on a Saturday night. This past Shabbat morning, I continued my tradition of taking over the chanting of Avi's bar mitzvah sedra eight years ago, Mikketz, the story of Joseph's rise to power in Egypt.

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.

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Thursday, December 15, 2011

Avi would have been 21 today, December 15.

Avi's last birthday party, December 15, 2005.

Thursday, June 16, 2011

Offir Ben-Naim Receives Avi Lapidus Memorial Award

From the West Hartford Patch:

“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.

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Saturday, April 23, 2011

Prof. Miki Neumann (1946-2011), who had dedicated his 2006 Shavu'ot study to Avi.

Miki Neumann, chairman of the UConn math department, died suddenly and prematurely on Thursday morning, April 21.

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.

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Friday, April 15, 2011

Avi's php tips

Just click the title of this post. (Repost with revised URL. Original was published in 2009.)

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Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Five years ago today

Sunday, January 30, 2011

Mishna Study Today in Memory of Avi

Mishna Daily - Sunday, 1/30/2011

Sunday, January 30, 2011 7:14 AM

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Today's Mishnayos learning should be L'iluy Nishmas Avraham Yehuda ben Yoel Shalom.
Sponsored by Menachem Lapidus at Yeshiva Ateres Shimon.

Today's Mishnayos
Mesechtas Demai
Perek 4, Mishna 4,5,6
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ד,ד מי שקרא שם לתרומת מעשר של דמאי, או למעשר עני של ודאי--לא ייטלם בשבת. אם היה כוהן או עני למודים לאכול אצלו--יבואו ויאכלו, ובלבד שיודיעם

ד,ה האומר למי שאינו נאמן על המעשרות, קח לי ממי שהוא נאמן וממי שהוא מעשר--אינו נאמן; מאיש פלוני, הרי זה נאמן. הלך ליקח לו ממנו, אמר לו לא מצאתיו ולקחתי לך מאחר שהוא נאמן--אינו נאמן

ד,ו הנכנס לעיר ואינו מכיר אדם שם, ואמר, מי כאן נאמן, ומי כאן מעשר, אמר לו אחד, אני--אינו נאמן; איש פלוני, הרי זה נאמן. הלך ולקח ממנו, אמר לו, מי כאן מוכר ישן, אמר לו, מי ששלחך אצלי--אף על פי שהן כגומלין זה את זה, הרי אלו נאמנין

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Saturday, January 29, 2011

Tonight, 25 Shevat, begins the 5th Yahrzeit

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

פסוק לא
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,


פסוק לז

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

Paper on William T. Sherman

Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Avi would have been 20 years old today.

Avi's 15th--and last--birthday celebration.

Sunday, December 05, 2010

The Fifth Candle

Tonight is the 29th of Kislev, the fifth night of Chanuka, and Avi's twentieth Hebrew birthday.

Saturday, December 04, 2010

This morning for the fifth year, I read Avi's bar mitzvah portion, Miketz, in his memory.
Most everybody knew why I was layning, but no one said anything.

Thursday, December 02, 2010

Again, the unlit menorah

Last night was the start of Chanukah. Once again, we displayed Avi's menorah next to our own. As in previous years and for the rest of Chanukah, Avi's menorah will contain the correct number of candles for each night.

Like the four previous years, they will remain unlit.

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Avi's Nephew

My three-year-old grandson, Aharon Yosef, last weekend saw an old photo taken in the early 1990s showing his father, me, and my father who was holding Avi. AY wanted to know who the four in the picture were. I named them, including "Uncle Avi" without elaborating and without AY asking additional questions. Some day he will ask.


Wednesday, August 18, 2010

What not to do.

A recent death prompts this thought: a shiva call is not the time to pump the bereaved for information on the cause of death of their loved one. If the mourner volunteers the circumstances, fine. Otherwise, it's no one's business.

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... the first one that did not attend school at the same time as Avi. I'm wondering how to keep his memory and ma'asim tovim (good deeds) alive at HHNE besides on his yahrzeit and during commencement.


4th annual HHNE Avi Lapidus Memorial Award...

...was given last evening during the graduation ceremony to Hillel Adler.

Here is a description of the award. Incidentally, the last pair of tefillin that Avi wore at his last minyan on his last Sunday was Hillel's. Both were lefties. (Avi of course had his own set, which was not available that day.)

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Sunday, April 25, 2010

Internet Security

Avi was becoming an expert at enhancing Internet security, having upgraded the security of three gaming-networking sites and one Jewish bulletin board.

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.

Passover 2010

As has become our custom since Passover 2006, we had two special cups on our seder table.

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

I led services Tuesday morning at Avi's last school to mark his yahrzeit. All those who were HHNE students when Avi died have since graduated and leading lives of their own. There are still a few who knew Avi from the Hebrew Academy and Beth David Synagogue.

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

My memories of Avi's final hours remain and shall continue to remain as fresh as they were four years ago.


Tuesday, January 12, 2010

Another Promising Young Man

A promising young man, 16, was killed yesterday in a school bus crash. The story is linked above.

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

This past Shabbat was the sixth anniversary ov Avi's bar mitzvah celebration. The final day of Hanuka fell on Shabbat, meaning that Saturday's Torah and haftarah (reading from the Prophets) portions were the same as those chanted by Avi. You may recall from earlier posts that Avi chanted his Torah portion for the next two years, and that I took them over for the two years following his death.

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

Avi was born the fifth night of Hanuka, 29 Kislev, in Elmira, NY.

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.

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Avi would have turned 19 this coming evening, December 15, the fifth night of Hanuka, according to both the Hebrew and secular calendars.


Monday, December 07, 2009

Avi at the Hebrew Academy Science Fair 2003

Ben Perlsweig sent us these photos of Avi, Michael Freilich, Ben and their teacher, Dr. Emily Buch, from the spring of 2003.

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Monday, November 09, 2009

Rabbi William Cohen, z"l, together again

The rabbi emeritus of Beth David Synagogue, Rabbi William Cohen, died this past Shabbat, a few weeks short of his 90th birthday. He was buried today near where Avi is buried. They are now together again, about the same distance that they were at Beth David.

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...

...and went.

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...

...Avi would have been uninsurable as a Type I diabetic. Avi cannot be helped by health care reform, but surviving diabetics and all others with pre-existing conditions will be.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Message from Rabbi Loew 2009

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Thursday, June 18, 2009

The HHNE 2009 Senior Class Yearbook

We Dedicate Our Yearbook to the Memory of Avi Lapidus z"l

Michael Freilich, Avi's classmate, delivered a special copy of
Fusion, HHNE's 2009 yearbook. The senior class dedicated
Fusion in Avi's memory and each senior wrote a note to us on
the inside covers.

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Monday, June 15, 2009

The Graduation

Susie and I just got back from the HHNE graduation over an hour ago.

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.

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Avi's HHNE Class Graduates Tonight

We plan to attend the ceremony to support his classmates as they move onward and because of the awarding of the third Avi Lapidus Memorial Prize. It won't be easy.

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Sunday, June 07, 2009

The Second Half of Yesterday's Torah Portion...

...Naso, Numbers 4:21-7:89, would have been chanted in the morning by Avi at the synagogue. It contains the readings chanted during Chanuka.

As is now the family tradition, I was the stand-in.

In the late afternoon yesterday, Susie spotted a nice-sized group of teenage boys arriving for the Mincha service at Beth David. It was poignantly obvious to her who would have been among them.

Sunday, May 17, 2009

While exploring an old user profile on Avi's computer...

...I came across applications and installation files that my class is currently covering in forensics and security, and that we will cover in Web design, including Knoppix, Virtual Machine, Linux and Ubuntu files, Dreamweaver installer. Avi had downloaded them in the weeks before his death. (He never installed Dreamweaver, which costs $200.)

He could have taught the classes!

I sadly and reluctantly deleted Avi's video files - Metroid, Sonic, Mario Bros. Zelda et al. - teen favorites that gave Avi an laternative to doing homework.

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Sunday, May 10, 2009

No sharing.

Avi's computer now hosts my website, using an updated version of the Apache server that he used.

I miss sharing with him info about servers, DNS, constructing web pages (which Avi was an expert at) and new web browsers-HTML editors, like Sea Monkey.

Chances are, you don't understand much of the this post, unless you too are into computers and the Internet. But not only would Avi have understood, he would have been far ahead of me (and reminding me of that!), showing me better ways of doing things. He would have enjoyed the latest innovations in technology.

Computer tech advances, Chana turns 20 on Tuesday, Avi has two nephews whom he'll never know. We go on; Avi remains frozen at age 15.

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Wednesday, April 08, 2009

Another Passover

Tonight begins Pesach and the first seder.

Avi's two nephews will be at our table with his brother and sister-in-law.

There will be two special wine cups on our table from which no one will drink.
One will be filled for Eliyahu haNavi.

The other will be Avi's Pesach kiddush cup, which will remain empty...

Isaac Benjamin and the Kotel Minyan

Isaac Benjamin wrote back to us last month about the yahrzeit minyan that he had organized for Avi:
No matter how long it has been, I will always remember Avi as a great friend. Organizing a minyan was the least I could do. I just hope that others continue to keep his memory alive. I also have a strange feeling that Avi was there at the kotel that day. I hope to see you soon.

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Monday, March 02, 2009

Minyan at the Kotel

I just learned by email from Gabriella Feinberg, Avi's classmate, that she had heard that another schoolmate was attempting to organize a minyan at the Western Wall in Jerusalem for the yahrzeit.

I'll find out more.


The minyan, organized by Isaac Benjamin, indeed took place. Avi Snyder and others whom Isaac was able to gather attended. Some attendees from a nearby bar mitzvah service of a Sigal Hebrew Academy student, including Rabbi Mordechai Weiss, prinicipal, joined in.

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Dan Page Remembers

Dan Page was Avi's English teacher at HHNE. Last week, he sent me an email with this recollection:
Just thought you'd appreciate knowing that I thought of Avi a lot yesterday.
It doesn't feel like three years and one day...

...the last time I saw Avi, he was hanging at the back of a group of students who wanted "goodbye" hugs before February break. He clearly wanted to be accepted within the group, but was a little unsure of our relationship, in that he had only recently joined the class. I extended my arm and embraced him, then, with my arm over his shoulder, steered him toward Mrs. Blitzer. Keeping my arm around him, I told Mrs. Blitzer in some detail the improvements Avi had made in my class, including excellent grades on a quiz and homework assignment. He was a little shy of this at first, but his face lit up when she praised his efforts and encouraged him to continue on that path to scholarship and to success. He looked like he finally was happy with his role as a student in the secular studies program.
Avi's copy of Julius Caesar remains on his shelf. He was reading it for Mr. Page's class.


Wednesday, February 18, 2009

Three Years

Due to the timing of Maariv, I came late to my computer course.

After class, I shared with my instructor, an expert on computer security and networking, the story of Avi's computer and security prowess.

I wish I knew exactly how Avi had enhanced the security of four Web site bulletin boards, described in several posts on this blog in 2006. It would have been nice to share that information with my class.

I led Maariv this evening from the same spot at Beth David where Avi had led Maariv for the last time on the Saturday night before his death.

It's been three years and my memory of Avi's last days remains as strong as ever...

Sunday, February 15, 2009

Avi's third yahrzeit begins Wednesday night, 2/18

That's 25 Sh'vat. Just like three years ago, that date will occur on a Thursday.

Sunday, December 28, 2008

Eighth Night of Hanuka

As we had the previous two years, we displayed Avi's hanukia ("menorah") along with the two hanukias that we lit.

Once again, we set up the candles each night in Avi's hanukia.
Once again, the candles remained unlit.

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Not a single person yesterday...

...during or after Shabbat morning services mentioned Avi, even though most knew the reason for me chanting the Torah.

Congregants and staff were probably reluctant to talk about Avi, lest they upset Susan, Chana or me.

On the contrary, Susie and I would have welcomed remembrances of Avi.

I recognize that no one who was present yesterday has taken a pastoral counseling or CPE course, either of which would have provided some insights and supervised experience with grief counseling. Such courses are required of rabbinical students in the Reform, Conservative and Reconstructionist movements of Judaism. In the Orthodox world, some institutions like Yeshiva University and Chovevei Torah have requirements, but Haredi yeshivos generally do not.

Clergy who have not taken pastoral counseling o0r CPE are not only short-changing their congregants -- they are short-changing themselves.

Thursday, December 25, 2008

The Fifth Night of Hanuka

Tonight is Avi's Hebrew birthday.

Exactly five years ago this morning, we marked Avi's bar mitzvah.

Avi led Shacharit and read the special Chanuka reading from the Torah. Two days later, Shabbat, he chanted the weekly Torah portion, Mikketz, the portion for the final day of Chanuka, the haftarah for the second Shabbat of Chanuka, and Musaf.

As I have the previous two years, I will read Avi's Torah portion.

Monday, December 15, 2008

Avi knew enough to teach at my night school.

I got a preview tonight of an upcoming course in Web design.  Avi had HTML, the primary language of Web design, mastered; he could have taught the class.  

He would have wizzed through as a student in the other courses, especially network security.

And, I bet that he even would have done his homework!


What a waste...

Avi would have been 18 years old today.

Thursday, December 11, 2008

Rabbi Adler's Eulogy

I noticed that the original link on the right to the eulogy no longer works. Rabbi Adler's eulogy is no longer among the Beth David website files. So, until I create a new link, I'm posting the text without the Hebrew here.

When Avi and his family celebrated his bar mitzvah, the parsha was Miketz; and it began with the words “And it was at the end of two years”. Today is another miketz in the saga of the Lapidus family and the spiritual journey of their beloved Avi; but today we translate the words as “it was at the end of too few years”.

The outpouring of love, affection and concern for Avi and his family is one that will be remembered long after the wounds of pain begin to heal. Every single one of us is here today with many more questions than answers, knowing that the answers will remain forever elusive; yet we are gathered as a community that has chosen to stick together, cry together and support one another.

Little did any of us ever think that we would live to experience the lesson taught several times over across the Talmud. It is the tragic story of a boy who was walking with his father among the trees. The father saw a nest with eggs and asked his son to climb carefully to retrieve the eggs. In the fulfillment of that one request, the boy was given the opportunity to fulfill two commandments for which the Torah provides the explicit rewards of arichut yamim and tovat yamim, length of days and goodness of days. One mitzvah was that of kibud av v’eim (honoring one’s parents), the other was shiluach hakan (shooing a mother bird away from her nest before snatching her eggs or her chicks). Before the boy could complete his tasks, he fell from the tree and expired on impact. When the rabbis came during Shiva to console the grieving parents, the father quoted the verses and demanded an explanation.

The rabbis replied that the goodness of days and the length of days was a reference to the world to come, Olam Habaah. Rightfully and emotionally, the father challenged the rabbis. My family’s pain is here and now, Olam Hazeh. Don’t preach to me about Olam Habaah. How do we console a family in our midst, a family we love, a family that has just experienced one of life’s worst nightmares?

Some people need 120 years to accomplish their work on earth, there are others who need very little time. Who could have known that Avi Lapidus was one of those gifted souls who could accomplish in fifteen years what others cannot accomplish in 120? He was his mother’s absent minded professor. On his face he always wore a smile; yet, one could never know for sure whether it was laughter or mischief that was dancing in his eyes. One thing was for sure, though. When he walked into shul on a Shabbat morning, he went around the sanctuary, smiling and wishing everyone a “Shabbat Shalom”.

His most precious possessions were his Kiddush cup, and the computer that he built from scratch. His personal website, that he was designing on his own, from scratch, will live on his computer as tesimony to his inquisitive sense of perseverance. He was the little brother who was determined to prove himself and earn his place. His place was right next to his father, every Shabbat they davened side-by-side. Avi enjoyed math and Judaic studies; and I knew that I was in for a “stump the rabbi” question when Avi would come to Friday night services with a volume of Talmud under his arm.

A requirement for every student at the Hebrew High School is to perform a certain number of community service hours every year. Avi’s favorite venue to volunteer was the Hebrew Home. It gave him a sense of purpose and he believed that his time was making positive differences in the lives of the residents.

His last outing before he got too sick to leave his home was to Sunday morning minyan to be the tenth man. There was a worshipper who needed to recite Kaddish; and even though Avi was already not feeling great, he came out to make that Kaddish possible. Now, it is the community’s responsibility to Avi to be there for him with kindness and holiness.

On the morning of Avi’s bar mitzvah, Jay addressed the congregation as he spoke to Avi. “Avi, you don’t have to grow up knowing how to interpret dreams; but let those who are impressed with your synagogue skills, intelligence and sense of humor come to be impressed as well with your ‘wisdom of derech eretz.” You’ve acquired a deep love of Judaism and mitzvot. The ‘wisdom of derech eretz’ requires you to share your Jewish knowledge with others humbly and respectfully.”

In his final act of humanity, Avi has indeed taught us with humility and dignity. He accepted his fate with submission and at peace. He has taught parents and children to hug a little tighter. He has taught all of us to value every day because we simply cannot know what tomorrow may bring. He leaves parents who begin a search for answers, a brother and sister who are mourners at much too young an age, grand parents who deserve better, a family that has rallied, school mates who did not realize until yesterday how much they loved him; and a community that has responded with strength and capacity that it might not otherwise have known that it had.

Avi has taught us well. His life is complete.
Tehi nishmato tzerurah bitzror hachayim.
May his soul be bound up in the bond of life eternal.

Due to Shabbat coming in a few hours, the family has requested that Shiva visitations not begin until Sunday. The minyan schedule for services will be - Sunday morning at 9:00am, and Monday through Thursday mornings at 7:15pm. Evening minyanim Sunday through Wednesday will be at 5:30pm. Beth David and the Hebrew High School are seekling volunteers who are willing to study mishnayot in Avi’s memory, with the goal of completing the Six Orders of Mishneh, Shisha Sidrei Mishneh, in conjunction with the conclusion of the Sheloshim perioid of mourning. Volunteers are asked to call me at my office or Rabbi Loew at HHNE.

Internment, immediately following the conclusion of this service, will be at the Beth David Memorial Park in Wethersfield.

Saturday, November 15, 2008

Avi's Computer Lives On

Maintaining Avi's computer, the one that he built when he was 14, remains a mission of mine. At the very least, I want to maintain its appearance.

Several months ago, the computer began intermittantly to fail to boot. The reason was not obvious as there were a number of possible causes.

It turned out that it needed a new hard drive, but Avi's motherboard did not support my first choice, a SATA-2, for technical reasons not readily apparent. Avi and I would have searched the Internet together to learn about the imcompatability.

I had several questions that I wish I could have asked him, including the location of his motherboard manual and the drivers disk. The former was easy enough to locate on the manufactuer's website. The latter, however, had the needed drivers for the motherboard, without which I could not install Windows XP Pro on the new hard drive or set up an ethernet connection to get on the Internet.

Thanks to my studies and software from instructors, I resolved the issues. Avi's computer savvy would have rivaled, if not surpassed, that of my instructors.

The computer became the family PC since Avi's death. I set up users accounts for each member of the family, including one labeled "Zichron Avi" (Avi Memorial), which has his Super Mario Brothers wallpaper. I plan to set up the rest of his desktop so that I can use Avi's links to computing, Internet and security resources as I progess in my studies.
Zichron Avraham Yehudah - Blogged