Last week, I led our community in the Unetaneh Tokef prayer. We sang, Mi yichye u mi yamoot, who shall live and who shall die. This week, this prayer is more than words; it is my reality.
Last Sunday, my brother, my best friend, and my hero, Eyal David Sherman, of blessed memory, passed away, at the age of 36. Eyal has been a quadriplegic for the last 32 years, after suffering a brain tumor and stroke. Eyal could not move a limb of his body and he could not make a sound with his voice. Yet, Eyal graduated college and became an unbelievable artist.
At our shiva home last night, we were honored with a special guest. Dr. Mark Haelfer was Eyal’s ICU doctor at Children’s Hospital of Philadelphia over fifteen years ago. Dr. Haelfer saved Eyal’s life on more than one occasion. Today, he has Multiple Sclerosis. Before we recited the mourner’s kaddish, he spoke to the crowd gathered in our home.
He told us that Eyal’s medical case had been intellectually challenging. Yet, with all the difficulties and struggles Eyal faced, he never complained. He watched our family gather and create a sacred space for Eyal at his most vulnerable time. He concluded by telling us that it was Eyal has taught him how to live a meaningful life with Multiple Sclerosis. As the gates of Neilah close, let us remember that every moment we have on God’s earth is a moment to lead a life of purpose. My family and I have been blessed to have Eyal in our lives for 36 years. May his life inspire all of us in the year ahead to acts of charity and loving kindness.