By: Esther Leuchter
What wonderful excitement filled our lives when you and Levi got engaged, Miriam! We were all thrilled and overjoyed that you were marrying such a fine young man from such an amazing family! What a beautiful wedding it was, one we will never forget, with all the family together. I still remember Levi singing at the wedding with such tremendous power in his voice. What passion and zest for life he had!
Before you made the final decision to go on shlichus to Tysons Corner, VA, I couldn’t believe that my beautiful Australian niece was moving not far from where I was from in Maryland. Levi asked me my opinion of the move, and I was strongly encouraging. When I came for my first visit, I realized that Tysons was a very commercial area and wondered how you were going to “grow” a community there. As the months unfolded, doors seemed to open for you two, and success just flowed. From an apartment you soon found just the perfect home for running a Chabad House, shul, and guest house. Someone even renovated it and furnished it for you, for nearly nothing. People started to come, supporters, programs and events, Shabbos meals galore with many guests from all walks of life.
Chabad of Tysons was here to stay! You expanded to a bigger shul nearby. You had your first weddings and babies in your own community. All while your own family, bli ayin hora, was growing so beautifully. Miriam, you and Levi were so dynamic, so giving and full of life. You were a shining example in every aspect of your life together of what a Chassidishe family represents. Needless to say, I had the highest respect for you both and the work you were doing. Our family was very proud of you and always will be.
I used to visit my Mother who lived at The Hebrew Home in Rockville every year, sometimes twice a year. You welcomed me so graciously for Shabbos on these trips. My visits with you were always a highlight. Smiling and relaxed, the house spotless, the aromas from the kitchen enticing, and the children already in bed when I would arrive erev Shabbos, you made everything look so effortless. Levi would be preparing his laining, his talk for Shabbos day, his divrei Torah for Friday night. He was so knowledgeable and sincere in his Yiddishkeit. With a smile and amusing word, he would challenge me to do more and be better. His honesty was refreshing. His concern for others was genuine. Whatever the occasion called for, he was fully there emotionally and intellectually.
What moved me most of all, Miriam, was the tremendous kindness you and Levi showed my dear Mother, o.b.m., over the years when she was living at the nursing home. You developed your own relationship with her, bringing the children to visit her after school, and inviting her, wheelchair-bound, to your events, and for Shabbos and Yom Tov meals at the Chabad House. I know she and Levi used to talk deeply about Hashem, about her finding meaning in her suffering (she had MS), about her love of Yiddishkeit, about life in general. She always spoke enthusiastically about her visits with you. I want to express my deep gratitude to you and Levi for your kindness to her and for all the effort you expended to make her feel important and cared for.
My dearest Miriam, Levi was truly special, larger than life, gifted with a profound humanity, integrity, and strength of character. He absolutely adored you, too, and told me many times how lucky he was to have married you. You complemented each other so well, and your love, devotion, and absolute respect for one another was palpable. You were both so mature for being so young.
May Hashem give you and the children and all the family comfort and blessing at this very difficult time. May Levi’s loving presence sustain and support you. And, may Levi’s passion and zest for life give you courage and strength to continue on.
Your Favorite Sydney Aunt.