Five years ago:
Ok Rabbi Levi, you sucked me in.
That first year at the Chabad I recall him asking.
" You coming to Lag Baomer?"
"OY ", not another Minyan, "I'm slammed." Can't tell him no, now can I? Had no idea, up to that point, what, how or who Lag Baomer was or is. I thought he was the President of Israel. Levi pulls me aside, with a serious look , of importance, on his face , Levi softly whispers, in my ear that, all I need do to be righteous is to "fill Geoffry's( my son ) belly with hot dogs, chips and soda." Levi loved the big BBQ. The Rabbi would oversee the hot coals while Rebbitzen Miriam was getting ready to rock the house, for one and all, with entertainment. Levi and Miriam along with Chessy , Laya and Mendy were and are result oriented.
Success to them was seeing smiles on everyone's faces that would grow bigger and brighter when "Yom ha Hot Dog” is continued to be observed, again and again, in coming years. Levi pushed for the “smile " result so very darn hard.
If my memory serves me correct last year Rabbi Levi attended the celebration, at the expense of his health and his concealed broken heart over the loss of Nosson , by the way speaking of the King of Smiles , his brother.
While at the picnic Levi never breathed a word of the families’ loss and of our loss yet to be exposed. He and his family did not let on to anyone about the tragedy of Nosson's loss which happened within hours of the Lag Baomer BBQ Event. Levi's aim for the day was for everyone to simply enjoy. His aim in life was always “Hashem & Others First."
Well, this Lag Baomer, again I'll make a hotdog L'Chaiam at the designated time. I like it with a warm bun and mustard. One new taste on it may be the salt of a tear out of remembrance of Nosson and Levi.
For without Rabbi Levi, his beautiful family and friends, most likely, there never would have been a Lag Baomer and all the other beloved observances shared by me, my son and so many others Jews in Northern Virginia.