By: Moishy Goldman
Dear Deitsch Family,
I can't begin to imagine how Levi's family, his wife and children must feel now. We have no idea. The only thing I can say is that I wish them koichos...and I wish them Levi, back by Techias Hameisim together with Nosson and his father R' Zalman A"H. I can speak for myself, and this hurts. A lot.
Levi was my counselor for two summers in Gan Yisroel Montreal, 5753-54. We were kids then and barely realized it, but those were trying times in Lubavitch, to say the least, especially the summer immediately after Gimmel Tammuz. Yet Levi and his co-counselor and very good friend, Chaim Greisman, gave us more than memorable summers. Levi became my big brother in every sense of the word.
I grew up as the oldest in my family, and the oldest grandchild on my mother's side. As such, I did not have a whole lot of older bochurim with whom I came into contact with on a regular basis, and did not have any role models to look up to, in that sense. Perhaps Levi sensed this; I don't know. But I do know that pretty much from the beginning, he cared for me and I could go to him with any problem I had.
One of the clearest memories I have of Levi's concern for me is him taking me outside the bunk for a late night chat. The purpose? Convincing me to stay in camp for the second month, as I had originally planned on being in camp only for one month. I still remember his very convincing argument: "What are you going to do in the country? You'll ride your bike a little bit, swim in the pool a little bit, and then what? Here you have your friends, a great bunk, we're having an awesome summer, stay with us!". I did and was very happy I did. Maybe I'm being naive, but couldn't Levi have simply said to himself "the kid wants to go home, zol er fohren gezunterheit"?. But he knew that I would be better off in Gan Yisroel, and he cared enough to make the effort to get me to stay.
From that early stage, I admired Levi immensely for his warmth, his chayus, his chevreman'keit - it was just great to be around him. He would tease us so lovingly and playfully, we would beg for more. He toughened us up, helped us grow out of being little boys and prepared us to be chassidishe bochurim ourselves.
Another remarkable thing that Levi did for me was that throughout the following year (I don't recall if it was 5754 or 5755) he invited me to come to Oholei Torah on Troy Avenue, and during his supper break he would learn a Sicha with me in one of the classrooms, and force me to take notes so that I could chazzer it over at the Shabbos table. I don't remember how long it went on for, but I remember feeling so special and so loved that I was chosen to have this exclusive time with Levi, my favorite bochur.
I am sure that there were many other incidents that took place during those years, but the reality is that what Levi gave me was more than something that can be measured by the retelling of specific incidents. I thought about this for a long time during my years in Yeshiva, and I truly believe that Levi was the person I modeled my own life after, and that whether consciously or subconsciously, Levi set the tone for me that m'darf zich uffiren vi a chossid. I say this despite the fact that during the years that followed, I never really was in close contact on a consistent basis with Levi again, simply because we each were in different parts of the world, at different stages of life. My heart was always connected to Levi.
I give Levi credit for the fact that I am on Shlichus today. I really believe that if I hadn't had the great mazel and zechus of being in his care during those formative years of my life, I would have turned out very differently.
I really can't believe that he is gone...this hurts. A lot.
May the Aibishter have rachmonus on his family, on his wife and children, and bring Moshiach so that he will be reunited with them and with us all.
PS IYH the next time I am in NY I will try dig up some pictures of the old times in CGI.