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Yitzi Hurwitz is a dynamo in the Chabad community, a beloved blog writer, songwriter, father, and husband.
He also has ALS, and a devastating form of the disease.
He has lost movement of 95% of his body and breathes with the help of a respirator. He is still able to smile, and his eyes, which allow him to dictate with an eye-tracking technology on his computer, shine with love for everyone. An article that he could complete in two hours now takes a full day. Recently he decided to take on a monumental task, that would have been daunting for a person with only minimal limitations: he wanted to fly cross-country to be present at his son’s bar mitzvah.
When it came time for planning the bar mitzvah of his youngest son, Shalom, Hurwitz told his wife, Dina, that he wanted to travel with the family from Los Angeles to New York to have Shalom called to the Torah in the study of the Rebbe—Rabbi Menachem M. Schneerson, of righteous memory—in Brooklyn and to visit the Ohel, the Rebbe’s resting place in Queens, just as they would do if Yitzi had never been stricken with ALS.
His wife was reluctant at first due to the risks to his health, but when she realized the tremendous amount of support they would receive, she agreed to the trip.
His story would be both amazing and moving enough, but the level of community and volunteer support was overwhelming. The Chabad community was with him every step of the way, and Hatzolair stepped up to provide assistance.
The story speaks volumes about a number of themes that are overlooked in our world today. One of them is personal courage: Rabbi Hurwitz couldn’t imagine missing his youngest son’s bar mitzvah; nothing would get in the way of his honoring his son, family and the Rebbe’s memory in this way. Secondly, he continues to exude love to everyone around him: his family, his friends, and the Chabad community; to be able to transcend the immense number of limitations to his life and still find joy is a wonder to behold. And finally, the support of his community to make this venture successful was deeply touching. I believe the strength he has received from his faith and the assistance provided by his community is inspiring.
If you have stories of faith communities reaching out, or of people who have shown great courage in the face of adversity, I’d love to have you share them here.