By Josh Friedberg
When does the time come to “move on”? When does it become time to stop living with the past and start looking only towards the future? Some may feel that that time is coming; others say that time has long since passed. A few still remain who believe in our cause. A cause of great importance. A cause that allows us to always Remember Tomorrow.
Seven long years it’s been, and still we gather in the month of May to remember our beloved Zev, a’h. A boy who passed on at the young age of 16 and has never been forgotten. A true golden child he was. He taught us that there is nothing greater on this earth than being kind to those around you. Regardless of how old, how unalike we are. Zev was a person who did not discriminate. He found light inside of darkness. He found good in all people. He changed so many of us for the better. For this, we owe him the greatest of thanks. We mustn’t be sad in his absence. We must shed no more tears. We are blessed to have known him. Blessed in the fires of his truth, in the flames of someone greater than ourselves.
Last year, I spoke of Zev as being an unbreakable idea. An idea which would guide all of us in treating everyone equally. “For we are no more important than the person sitting next to us. No more dignified than those who are not like us.” And it is this idea, this message, that he has left us with that we hold on to so dearly. This is why we gather to meet in May of each year. Because seven years ago we found out . . . seven years ago our hearts truly knew, we might not get a second chance to do what’s right.
When we speak of Zev, we speak of his heart. How he was kind and giving. We speak of his smile, how it was contagious and unyielding. How his strength and spirit was that of 50 grown men. When it came time for him to put everything aside to help someone, he did. He taught us the meaning of friendship. He taught us the meaning of acceptance. He taught us this ultimate and awesome lesson of how truly powerful a smile can be.
I envy Zev. If we take the time to truly think about what is happening, we would all envy him. To think, seven long, long years it’s been, and still we meet. Still we cry. Still those who haven’t spoken or seen each other at all, hug and sit together once a year just for Zev. Enemies shake hands, hearts are mended, smiles and tears are finally working together as one. On this day, we put aside our differences to honor and remember Zev Friedman. Who could have such power? Who could touch so many people so deeply? The answer is quite simple. Our beloved Zev did.
As hesitant as I am to say this, it is because of us that Zev is no longer here. Not specifically you, nor specifically me. Not his friends or his family, but us as human beings. It is because we are selfish . . . because we are lazy. Because of a failure to remember what might happen tomorrow. We want what we want out of life. And that’s fine. We are human beings, and lucky to be so; but in order to avoid terrible tragedies like this one in the future, we must become aware of the fact that it is imperative that we be more than just ordinary human beings. We must become an example of what human beings are truly supposed to do. How we are really supposed to act. To use the heart that was given to us, not for longing but for giving. To use our mouths not just for words, but for kind words. Our minds not for judgment, but for acceptance. Our abilities for good and help, not personal gain or profit.
It is because of this concept that Zev’s name and message will never fade. His message was not do more than necessary. His message is do what is right. You see, inside all of us is an insatiable desire to receive kindness from all that we know. We need it. Our hearts are molded by it. Zev’s message simply says be kind, and you shall receive that which is given. The same thing that our history has tried to teach us. However his message says one thing that none others do; be kind today, for tomorrow, a life can be saved.
Whoever you are reading this, please, for our world’s sake, and for the sake of our loved ones, always remember tomorrow. For if we do not remember, for some, tomorrow may never come . . .
Thank you, Zev Friedman. In our hearts you will remain forever. We love you dearly. v