By: Esther Kosofsky
When I think of my nephew Levi, I always remember one particular story that epitomized the reaction he had on people. The Deitsch family hosted a youth group leader for several years when he would bring his teens for a Shabbos in Crown Heights. The group would eat with one family on Friday night, somewhere else for lunch but the leader always brought the group back to the Deitsch home for Havdala. My family and I stayed at the Deitsch's house a few years during that same Shabbaton weekend and met the youth group leader and some of his students. One year, the leader arrived at the Deitsch home with around twenty teenagers before Havdala time and they milled around in the living room waiting until my brother-in-law a"h would return from shul. One by one, the three older Deitsch boys filtered in and when they noticed the group in the living room, smiled and retreated. My sister suggested that they go in and interact with the guests. They walked in and after saying hello, an uncomfortable silence settled in the room. After a moment or two, one turned to the other and said "I wish Levi was here".
At this time, Levi was several years younger than the guests, but that did not matter, he was the one who would have engaged the group and broken the awkward moment.
Levi, now we are also turning to each other with the same bakasha: "I wish Levi was here", not to break any uncomfortable silence or to put strangers at ease, but to enjoy your warm personality and shining demeanor, to see your obvious love for your famliy and for your shlichus, you will always be an inspiration.
I wish Levi was here.