Ever since Ariel died, I find myself crying in the most unexpected of places. I remember the last year of Ariel’s life. I drove him to pulmonary therapy three times a week. I drove him to his medical appointments twice a week. If he was strong enough, I would drive him to shul or to a Torah class. Sometimes we would listen to Jewish music–The Miami Boys Choir, Shalsheles, Mordechai Ben Dovid–and Ariel would tap his hand against his thigh. I remember at one point thinking that Ariel might not make it and the song I’m listening to will always be associated with that unbearable thought. And now, in the car, I don’t have to put the music on. I hear it in my head. I see Ariel out of the corner of my eye. And I drive on the 405 with tears pouring down my face
When Ariel died, I sat shiva. I said Kaddish. I’m still saying Kaddish, just about a month left. Gosh, how I dread not saying the Kaddish for Ariel. It will be a gaping abyss in my davening. I arranged to learn Torah with several Chavrusahs in Ariel’s memory. But nothing seems to be enough. Several months before Ariel died, he and I had a long conversation about books. Most of all Ariel loved to learn Torah. But he also liked to read novels. He adored Jane Austen. The mad shidduch making in Pride and Prejudice brought a big smile to his face. Ariel also loved the Harry Potter series. A triumph of good writing, beautiful plotting and traditional values over the cynical, degraded trends of much in children’s publishing. On Ariel’s bookshelves rest about forty novels written by Avi. The problem, said Ariel, is that there are not enough novels written specifically for observant Jewish kids. Dad, he said, you should start a publishing company. Publish fiction that is of the highest quality, yet is also suitable for kids who hold Torah values. And so, to honor Ariel and his wonderful idea Karen and I have founded Seraphic Press. We have four superb novels in various stages of development and expect to publish our first book, The Hebrew Kid and the Apache Maiden in January 2005. It is the story of an observant Jewish boy in the Old West, his determination to celebrate his Bar Mitzvah, his friendship with the notorious gunfighter Doc Holliday, and his touching relationship with Lozen, a legendary Apache girl warrior. The book is a unique reimagining of the Wild West. To pay tribute to Ariel, The Hebrew Kid’s name is… Ariel.
Several months ago, my beloved son Ariel Chaim passed away. I am forever changed. I will write about him, about loss and memory for as long as I can.