Thursday, April 2, 2009

Josh Guitelman

I would like to take a minute to step back from my normal topics and tell you about the passing of a dear friend:

Last night I slept in Be'er Sheva in Adam's room in the dorms, and as he had an early class this morning, he woke up before I did. As he was moving around in the room getting ready for school etc., he noticed my phone ringing and tossed it to me. Gadi was calling (for what I later saw was the 8th time in a very short span of minutes). His blurred words went something like this: "Jonah bro, sorry for waking you up, but this is really serious. Josh Guitelman passed away last night..." and the rest was just in one ear out the other. I asked him to repeat everything a couple of times just to make sure I understood correctly.

I have known Guitel since I was his age. My last summer as a camper at Camp Ramah in New England, summer 2004, my whole age group also did CIT work, and I CIT'ed for Guitel's bunk of crazy, lovable 12 year-olds. I knew I loved those kids then, and two summers later, as a junior counselor on staff in 2006, I was his counselor in bunk 57/58, the bunk of the "Bat Killers." That summer he was without a doubt one of my best and favorite campers. This past summer, in 2008, I was once again a counselor for his age group, with them now as the oldest campers in camp. Once again he proved to be an amazing camper. Easy going, a little attitude (but always listened when things got serious), the ladies loved him, an excellent Ultimate player, and most importantly, loved by all.

Guitel's Frisbee prowess had been growing over the years, and he had high hopes for excelling at the next level. Last night, life took a nasty turn. Josh was playing in a high school Frisbee match and mid game he apparently dropped to the ground, and just never got up.

When Gadi relayed this story to me this morning, I basically was in shock. I was hurt and frustrated, because I felt very aloof from my campers, my boys, whom I could not be near to console and be consoled. It has just been overall a pretty weird (in a bad sense) sort of day.

That Josh's body collapsed at such an early age is simply put, shitty.
There is no explanation. He was 16 years and 360 days old. I love Josh very much and find it hard and even partly inconceivable to think about my campers without him playing a dominant part in the picture.
We will all miss you, and already do.
Love, Jonah

17 comments:

  1. I go to school with Josh, and today they announced his death. At that moment 3,000 kids at Bronx Science were silenced. Everyone knew and loved Josh, and we were all shocked and deeply saddened by his passing. I hope that somewhere he is still playing frisbee.

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  2. I go to Ramah as well and this letter made me cry it is so beautiful i can still picture him playing frisbee on the migrash at camp he will be missed by everyone

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  3. Although me and Josh weren't very close, I know Josh was a really great kid, he could always bring a smile to your face regardless if you knew him very well or not. His death is really tough to handle saying how he was so young and full of life. I'm still in big shock and am not sure how to react. I'm very sad that I wont be seeing him at camp anytime soon, but I'm sure as soon as summer rolls around in CRNE we will feel his presence among us. This just makes me realize that how short life is and how badly we need to be around friends and loved ones because we never know when the time comes that we will never see them again. Josh was a really tremendously great kid, thats the only way i can put it, but I'm sure hes up there in heaven playing with his disk and looking down at us with a huge grin.

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  4. I go to Bronx Science also and you should know that all the great things he clearly demonstrated at camp were also very much present at school. He was always smiling and playing jokes and being a great friend to everyone. It is such a tragedy that he had to unjustly die at such a young age but at the very least we know he was happy and loved.

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  5. Hi jonah- my Name is Barbara Saati - you may know some of my kids, Nayim, Adir(nivo-05) and Maya (Nivo-09) Mays is devestated by ths loss. This was a beautiful young man. My heart is broken for his family, for his friends, for the Ramah community, and lastly for my daughter who treasured Josh's friendship. Facing the day of his funeral, i could not sleep, its 5 am and I am up, waiting for everyone here to wake up and dress and make the 3 hour trip to the city for what will be a heart wrenching day. Stay strong.

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  6. Thank you for your words. My daughter took a bus to NYC yesterday to be at the funeral this morning. May God send healing and comfort to all of us.

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  7. Jonah, thank you for your words. I remember Josh so vividly and everything you said about him was so true. My heart aches for all those wonderful nivonimers who are now in so much pain... As a rosh edah, you don't really know every single kid in your edah - but everyone knew Josh, and so did I. What a loss.

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  8. Josh will be remembered by those of us in Bronx Science..whether we know him or not...we will miss him.

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  9. im still in shock i have always known Josh as a bright and happy person, rest in peace josh

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  10. The Guitelmeister will never be forgotten.
    I wanted to tell everyone at his funeral that Josh would want us all to smile before we go to sleep tonight because thats all Josh did, smile.
    Rest In Peace

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  11. hi i was josh's older sister's camper. although i never really met him i feel a connection to him....i know dani[danielle guitelman] loved her brother tremendously and my whole bunk is also sad. although we never met him....i hope he rests in peace

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  12. To all of Josh's friends -
    Learn from this that life is fragile. Tell those you love how much they mean to you before you go to sleep tonight. Share what you have with others. Be nice to someone who does not deserve it but needs it. Do one act of kindness in Josh's memory - and because you see how quickly life can be gone. You can make the world a better place and think of Josh when you do.

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  13. Josh will never be forgotten.
    He was always there to lighten the mood.
    His flick was unmatched by anyone and it was easy to see that he dominated in every game he played in.
    Rest In Peace

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  14. Jonah, thank you. My parents loved this.
    -Dani Guitelman

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  15. One of our best CIT kids by far.

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  16. Deepa BalakrishnanApril 8, 2009 at 7:19 PM

    I worked with Felicia and this is really tragic.I hope G-d gives them all the strength to get through this trying time.
    Rest in Peace Josh,You will live forever in our lives.

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  17. I met Josh a few times - as a fun-loving, yet studious boy, becoming a very impressive young man. However, I did not really get to know him during the few times we met; I got to know him through his Mother's words; I used to work with Felicia. I witnessed Josh's Mom's love for her son from the confines of my neighboring cube, as words of direction, encouragement, direction, praise and admonshment filled the air, day in day out. Obviously, I heard only one side of the conversation, but I was able to piece together the other side with very little difficulty. Almost always, I couldn't help but smile.
    Josh loved his Mom, Dad and Dani very much. True, Felicia often had to intervene in brother/sister squabbles - that is how families work. A few choice words from Mom always restored order in short time, then the homework and chores would resume.
    Felicia and I shared many parenting experiences and I am much the wiser because of her words and example.
    One time, I was highly distressed over the antics of my own son - Felicia could hear me talking on the phone. After I hung up, she sent me an e-mail with a collection of Rodney Dangerfield jokes. I went from holding back tears of desperation to bursting into tears of laughter. Felicia had exactly the right cure for my pain. I wish I could return even a fraction of what Felicia's gesture meant to me. But this is too painful, the hardest challenge any parent could ever face.
    My heart goes out to Felicia, Alex and Dani for losing their adorable son and brother Josh; he will never be forgotten. You are a wonderful family and I am so sorry that he was taken from you so soon.
    God Bless You.

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