In 1988, I first met Dr. David Applebaum, who was murdered in last week's Hillel Cafe bombing, along with his daughter, Nava, the night before her wedding. I met David at a party celebrating the birth of a future neighbor's child. My family had not moved in yet, having arrived in Israel a few months earlier. At that time our nuclear family consisted of my wife Karen and son Zaki. On hearing that Karen and I were both practicing family doctors, David started outlining his vision of urgent care centers. Although I could not figure him out, his vision was infectious. I knew I liked him.
The following year, with Karen somewhat concerned about the investment required -- both financially and the long hours involved -- we joined David's fledgling private emergency clinic, Terem. We were then six partners.
In those days I would work three evenings a week till midnight (or later), speaking, breathing and living Terem. I would confer with David at least five times a day. I would wake up remembering what I didn't tell him late the night before. I admired him so much. I could not comprehend how one person could do so much.
His family, too, was an inspiration, a model of education and strength. David was, in many ways, a role model for me -- an inspiring combination of cutting edge medicine, thrilling entrepreneurialism, commitment to Jewish observance, doer of good deeds, and a lover of the Land of Israel.
As Terem grew, the responsibility grew. As usual, David remained calm throughout, always finding time to speak and solve problems, many of which were of a personal nature. The more the demands on him grew, the more energy he would find. Some two years ago a young child became ill with leukemia and David spent hours everyday for many months helping with chemotherapy, and not least providing emotional support to the young parents.
There were a myriad of similar situations in which David became very involved. He would not accept defeat at any stage and invariably gave more strength, refusing to be disheartened. The medical outcomes were undoubtedly better than could be expected without his interventions. The human outcomes were of trust, hope and confidence -- despite desperate realities.
The day after the funeral I was working in my clinic in Maale Adumim and was surprised when, in the middle of a consultation, a young Russian patient expressed her sadness. She told me how, 11 years earlier, their family received beautiful fruit baskets from the Applebaums. These were delivered by David's sons, Natan and Yitzhak, to their then home in Jerusalem. Due to the Applebaum's modesty, most of these acts of kindness will be remembered only by those directly touched by them, and as the days go by, more and more are coming to light.
We are facing an irreconcilable loss. A light has gone out of our world. How will we cope without him?
I can just imagine his unsentimental answer to me: "C'mon Joe, it can be done. Let's get on with it."
We should let David's way of doing things rub off on us.
Let's get on with it.