July 22, 2024
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Eli Moshe Zimbalist, HY”D

Eli Moshe Zimbalist, HY”D

Eli Moshe Zimbalist, HY”D, an extraordinary 21-year-old young man who was loved by everyone, including me. I will miss him.

There is really nothing to say. No words in the English dictionary can possibly describe the loss and devastation we are feeling.

Avraham is such a special soul, and I’m not talking about his special needs. He is a truly special soul.

But he didn’t get his pure soul from nowhere.

His parents, Simmy and Sara are like no one you’ve ever met.

I remember asking myself just a few weeks ago how I can become more like them.

They deal with such hardships and they simply move forward. It’s as if nothing fazes them. Of course that’s not the case, but I always admired them for how they faced challenges. It’s almost supernatural.

Last night, Aviel, my 17-year-old, called to tell me the heart-wrenching news. “Eli Moshe has died.”

That phone call felt very reminiscent of a call from my older brother, Doni. He said, “It’s him.”

That’s how I found out that Ari, my older brother, was murdered.

In both cases, I was unable to breathe. In both cases, I yelled “No, no, no. Don’t tell me that. No. It can’t be!”

In both cases, I had to relay the messages to loved ones. Yesterday it was Racheli who also yelled when hearing the news. And in Ari’s case, I had to tell Aviel, while Racheli went to tell the other kids who were in school.

There is not a single human being, not one, who knew Eli Moshe and didn’t love him. There was just something about him. He inherited Simmy and Sara’s mannerisms.

He was soft spoken, sweet, kind, and he excelled at everything.

Many years ago, Eli Moshe decided he wanted to learn construction. He wanted to build things.

He became an “apprentice” of another friend, Larry Deverett, who taught him everything. I called Larry right away as soon as I heard. He could not talk. He told me he felt like he lost a son. We all do.

Eli Moshe built our pergola in our backyard. The same goes for almost the entire neighborhood.

When he was building it, in the scorching sun of Beit Shemesh, I kept thinking how incredible he is. He was a teenager and he just got to work, no complaints, no requests, just an incredible work ethic you don’t usually see with teenagers.

He also built many shtenders in the shul, which are used by the entire congregation when they pray. Eli Moshe has a part of all of our prayers.

Whenever there was some sort of technical problem in the synagogue, Eli Moshe was the go-to guy.

He, like his incredible parents, spent his life caring for others.

Avraham, despite his Downs Syndrome, is the same. You will never see him resting in synagogue. He’s always helping in one way or another. He’s always with a smile on his face. And the way his parents care for him is just indescribable.

My children had the opportunity over the years to spend a lot of time with Avraham. His parents made sure that he had a social life so they gave the other kids in the neighborhood the opportunity to hang with Avraham. Surely Avraham gained from those interactions but I can tell you with 100% certainty that my kids and the other kids gained more.

They say God gives people tests that they can handle. To be honest, I kind of hate when people say that. What does that even mean? Was I able to “handle” Ari’s murder? Were my parents? And I don’t know how the Zimbalists will handle this loss. I don’t know how Avraham will. I don’t think the human heart was engineered to “handle” this level of pain and devastation.

Last night, upon hearing the news, a Google doc went out at midnight asking members of the community to help the Zimbalist family. By the time we woke up and saw the doc, it was 100% full.

The Zimbalists have an incredible amount of love and support and I am hoping that will help them “handle” this tragedy.

The loss of Eli Moshe is hitting me really hard. I haven’t cried this much since 2018, when we lost Ari.

I didn’t speak to Eli Moshe often but I would regularly watch how he conducted himself in shul. I watched him and admired how much of a giver he was. I think he also learned that from his mentor, Larry.

Many years ago, I attended a ceremony to commemorate the brother of a friend. He was killed in war. I’ll never forget what his sister said that day.

“God takes the righteous ones. He wants them near Him.”

That rings true today. Eli Moshe is sitting right next to Hashem now and pleading for our nation. He’s asking what he can do, what he can build up there to ease the pain of his people.

Maybe Hashem is teaching him a new skill, which he is surely learning supernaturally fast.

Whatever the case may be, Eli Moshe is up there finishing his work to help his people.

This is a colossal loss for the Zimbalist family, for the Nofei Hashemesh family, and for the entire Jewish nation.

We will miss Eli Moshe terribly.

Hashem, make the pain end. Enough!

If not for us, do it for Eli Moshe.

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