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Remembering Chezi

Remembering Chezi

Chezi Goldberg z"l, who was murdered in last week's Jerusalem bus bombing, cared and took responsibility for others. He was a true disciple of Moses.

by

They murdered my friend Chezi today. His crime? Riding the #19 bus in Jerusalem.

Rabbi Shimshon Pinkus once taught that people believe that those who die young are somehow "marked" to die young, but that luckily that "doesn't affect me, because I am obviously not marked." So we delude ourselves into a false sense of eternal life. Rabbi Pinkus proved that fact with his own life when he died tragically in a car accident not long after.

Chezi wasn't "marked," either. He was vital, dynamic, healthy, enthusiastic, always laughing and bringing others to laugh. The shock of Chezi no longer alive is compounded by the shocking way that he died, murdered in an instant while on a bus, along with 10 other beautiful, innocent and beloved souls.

Chezi was 41 and from Toronto. He made Aliyah to Israel eight years ago, and we were neighbors in the city of Betar Ilit. Last year his wife gave birth to their seventh beautiful child.

What the bomber didn't know was that if his goal was to render maximum damage, to take out an accomplished and beloved Jew, then he found his mark in Chezi.

Chezi was responsible for helping hundreds of "at-risk" teens as a social worker.

He didn't know that Chezi was responsible for helping hundreds of "at-risk" teens as a professional social worker and special ed counselor. For sure he never heard about the last initiative Chezi was so enthusiastic about: a new organization providing support for abused men. He never knew Chezi wrote a newspaper column ("Chezi's Corner") and hosted a radio show that focused on helping kids and sometimes fighting terrorism. He never knew that Chezi's singing voice was so beautiful it could make you cry, and how Chezi hosted an annual songfest in his Sukkah.

Bitter irony: At the start of this terror war Chezi and I had formed an organization -- "Security before Tragedy" -- to pressure the Israeli government to do more to protect civilians from terror attacks. Chezi wrote: "When we look at a miraculous escape from a deadly attack and breathe a sigh of relief, we lose the war on terrorism. When they fire to kill, they make their intentions clear. They will try again."

Every year Chezi would underwrite an annual lecture in memory of his father, where it was always moving to hear the love and respect for his departed father.

Everyone loved Chezi, and it seems that just about everyone knew him.

Everyone loved Chezi, and it seems that just about everyone knew him. Last week when he and I were walking past a hotel in Jerusalem, the concierge ran out and hand-delivered him a newspaper as a little gift.

He was a very devoted husband and father. Two days before Chezi was killed, his wife completed the year of mourning after her father's passing. Chezi, knowing it would be a hard day for her, booked off his appointments and spent the day at home with her. The day before his murder, he saw a sandwich at home and thought his daughter forgot it. So he took a bus to her school only to subsequently learn it was not hers anyway. He responded in typical Chezi fashion, “That's fine; I wanted her to know how much I love her.”

We will cry this Purim when we think of the town's most colorful clown, who used to walk through the streets delivering gifts of food with his kids. We loved Chezi because he was a lot of fun, full of life, and forever ready with a joke and a piece of wisdom. Last week Chezi and his wife Shifra were with me on the bus, along with their one-year-old baby. We were all laughing at his usual jokes about the lax attitudes of Israelis, the national habit of believing that if we ignored the threats they would cease to exist through the strength of our desire.

And now Shifra is a widow with seven fatherless souls.

Taking Action

Above all, Chezi took responsibility when no one else did.

The Torah portion read a few days before Chezi was slaughtered spoke about Moses killing an Egyptian taskmaster who had been abusing a Jewish slave. We are told very little about Moses' life other than this short episode, and suddenly we see God choosing Moses as the leader of the nascent Jewish people.

From here we see why Moses was chosen. When he saw the suffering of his brothers, he could not hold himself back. Knowing full well that killing an Egyptian meant risking his own life, the end of his luxurious lifestyle in the palace, and likely exile forever, still Moses did not hesitate. He took action to stop the injustice in the only way possible. God saw that here was a person who cared and took responsibility for others.

Chezi was a true disciple of Moses. When Palestinian thugs were stoning dozens of cars daily on their commute home to our city of Betar, and the army was not responding, Chezi turned to action, driving through the streets with a megaphone sticking out of my car, hosting meetings for people who cared, raising money and organizing rallies to cry out for the army to do what it could do -- and eventually did do -- to protect us.

Chezi felt deeply the pain of every Jew. When he discovered that hundreds of troubled boys had virtually no resources to help them, he set up a hot-line, found volunteers, and created a national network to support them.

That's what I really loved about Chezi: he cared. He cared enough to get angry. When he saw that the security situation at our daughters' school was appalling, and everyone was silent, he yelled about it. It ate away at him. He couldn't lull himself to sleep like most of us. He got mad.

Chezi would be really mad now, if he was alive. He'd be mad enough to demonstrate about the bombing of bus #19. Years ago, people would be crying fasting and in shock at such a thing. But this is the situation of the Jewish people today -- that we have lost this ability to feel. Chezi decried this laxity. He warned us against falling into "numb acceptance" of terror attacks.

After every terror attack, Chezi would go to as many funerals as he could, even though he didn't know the victims personally -- just to cry.

It is a step toward the final redemption when we will be forced to cry out. It seems that the time has finally come to get mad and to cry. For Chezi and his wife and kids.

The Goldberg Family needs your support.

** In Israel, for Shekel donations or US Dollar Donations drawn on an Israeli bank send checks to:

Rabbi Ephraim Shore
Kaf HaChaim 11/6
Betar Illit

Checks are to be made payable to: Yad Eliezer

** In US, for US Dollars drawn on a US Bank, send checks to:

The Young Israel Charities Benevolent Fund
National Council of Young Israel
3 West 16th Street
New York, NY 10011.

Donations should be CLEARLY marked on the front of the checks "Goldberg family - Beitar" in order to be processed properly for the family.

** In Canada, for Canadian Dollar cheques, send cheques to:

Bnai Brith Foundation-Goldberg Family Trust Fund
15 Hove Street,
North York, ON M3H 4Y8
Canada

Cheques should be CLEARLY marked Pay to the Order of: "Bnai Brith Foundation-Goldberg Family Trust Fund" in order to be processed properly for the family.

For more information, please email: eshore@aish.com

Read a stirring article written by Chezi Goldberg: "If You Don't Cry, Who Will?"

Published: January 31, 2004


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Visitor Comments: 37

(37) Rivki Rosen, April 10, 2008 8:46 AM

Our Chezi, Z"L, you are still thought of and remembered....

What can I say? It's been four years and the sadness of losing such a gevaldigeh mensch still runs deep.
We miss your smile, your wit, your devotion, your deep insights (political and otherwise), and so much more...
When I first met you, when you and Shifra began dating (you guys were still known as S&K back then), we all thought it amusing that if you two got together she wouldn't even have to do any paperwork to change her last name. But when I heard your beautiful voice singing zemiros on Shabbos, I just knew you were "the one" for her!
Yechezkel, you've touched so many hearts... Hashem yikom damo

(36) Yoel Ben-Avraham, December 6, 2004 12:00 AM

Chezi Goldberg Memorial Site

The family has established a web site to collect stories and annecdotes about Chezi and his various endeavours. Please visit http://chezigoldberg.blogware.com/

(35) Linda, July 1, 2004 12:00 AM

5 Months Ago

It has been 5 months since Chezi Goldberg z"l, who was murdered in the Jerusalem bus bombing. I did not know him yet I still feel a connection between his family and myself. I wonder how his family is doing. Do they have their needs met? How are the children doing? I know from experience that losing a father is sad and life-changing experience for children. May the G-d of Abraham, Issac and Jacob continue to watch and care for this dear, precious family.

(34) Miriam Berkowitz, February 15, 2004 12:00 AM

Chezi Goldberg

I too never met Chezi Goldberg but feel as if i lost someone dear to me. When i read the news i thought it just can't be him. The tears haven't stopped. Your stories about him, plus numerous ones in the Jewish Press. A truly special person, so giving, so caring, so warm. A true tragedy. Hashem should give his family the koach to go on and may he be a mailitz yosher for them and for all of Klal Yisroel.

(33) Marlene Josephs, February 8, 2004 12:00 AM

Klal Yisrael

I, too, did not have the pleasure of knowing Chezi personally. This week's Jewish Press was overwhelmingly about Chezi, his life and his contributions to others and to Klal Yisrael. I don't think I've ever read so many praises about someone who was not a national figure/politician which makes his praises all the more genuine.

My husband and I look for different avenues to give tzedaka, especially in Eretz Yisrael, and sadly we will do what we can to help his widow, Shifra, and their seven children. I would have much preferred, though, to give this money to help a yeshiva and, instead, have Chezi live to 120 continuing to help his wife, children and everybody else's children.

Whenever I daven or speak to Hashem, I first and foremost ask Him to watch over ALL Klal Yisrael, especially in Eretz Yisrael. I cry whenever there is bombing and Jews are hurt or killed. I do pray for my own children to be safe, those living in Israel and my one living in New York City, but first I ask for Klal Yisrael...because ALL of us are VERY IMPORTANT individual threads in the beautiful cloth that Hashem has weaved...Klal Yisrael. If one of those threads is missing or just not right, then the entire cloth is ruined. Until we ALL begin truly caring for one another and feeling one another's pain, then Hashem will not come to intervene on our behalf. He's just waiting for us to do our part and He will meet us halfway. We have to put all of our differences aside and remember just as we waive the four species during Sukkas, all the Jews are represented in His cloth...those who learn and don't do chesed, those who do chesed and don't learn, those who do neither and those who do both. We are all part of Klal Yisrael and He loves ALL of us. He just wants his "kinderlach" to get along and truly love one another.

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