This week, our community is mourning the loss of Jonah Anschell. In his eighteen years of life, Jonah was known for unabashedly being himself. Brilliant, witty, a first responder, someone who both commanded and deserved respect. As we shared stories about this beautiful boy, each person was in awe of his ability to walk through this world with integrity and heart.
Too many of us spend our days worrying about what others think we should do. We compare ourselves to neighbors, classmates, or even celebrities we’ve never met. We imagine that if we just look different or perhaps, portray a different persona, life would be better. One of Jonah’s classmates approached me and said with a sense of awe, “Jonah knew himself. Imagine this world if we spent more time offering our gifts instead of trying to change who we are.”
The mishna in Sanhedrin reminds us, “When God stamped all people with the seal of Adam, the first human, not one person was made similar to another.” God intended for humanity to embody an array of stunning, diverse talents and traits. To deny our unique souls is denying God’s intention in the creation of the world.
May Jonah’s essence inspire the ways in which we live out our days. May his memory be a blessing.
In partnership with The Jewish Journal, you can also find Rabbi Guzik’s blog post HERE.