February 22, 2019

Beautiful Friend, Shattered Heart

I have met a lot of people. Through work, travel, family, a desire to connect, and an accessible personality, it has not been hard to meet people. I have many acquaintances, and a few trusted friends. While certainly open to people, I'm guarded about those I let in my life and heart. I have friendships dating back through every decade of my life and as I approach fifty, I feel blessed to know good people.

If I were asked to make a list of my favorite people, it would take no time to place my friend Barak Ben Tor at the very top. Never in my life have I met such a wonderful human being. We met 20 years ago and our friendship was immidiate. He was 22 years old and had dreams of getting married, having kids, and leaving a mark on the world. He had a bond with my new baby that filled my heart with joy.

He was a religious man who presented Judaism in a way that made me want more. I am the Jew I am today because of this man. He inspired me to embrace my faith in a way I never had before. I had always been a Jew, but Barak taught me to be Jewish. I remember him telling me things about our faith and my saying “Shut up, really?” He'd laugh, feel a little sorry for me I’m sure, and want to teach me more.

I was getting divorced, raising my son alone, and this wise young man told me everything would be okay. He told me to lean on G-d. He encouraged me to believe there was a plan and everything would work out. When he got married years later, he called to thank me for always telling him he would meet the girl of his dreams. When they were expecting, he told me she would be a great mom like I was.

When I got cancer, Barak told me I would be okay. When Barak got cancer, I told him he would be okay. Today I am devastated to share my heart is shattered into a million pieces as this wonderful man, the kindest man I have ever known, passed away. Barak was 43 years old and leaves behind his beautiful wife, two amazing children, and an emptiness in the heart of every person blessed to know him.

I have admired this remarkable human being for twenty years and am honored to call him my friend. I love Barak Ben Tor very much and the world has suffered a great loss with his passing. To Barak’s family I send my heartfelt condolences. May this wonderful man rest in peace as he stands next to G-d and watches over his family. I am forever changed, forever grateful, and forever keeping the faith.