As a Jewish educator, every once in a while, you come across a young person who really has an impact on you. Not just a youngster who inspires and educates you - we are blessed with many of those - but one who really changes you.
This past summer was my first at Ramah Darom. One of the great privileges of being Rosh Musica was facilitating the Nivo U band. For eight weeks I met for three hours a day with a dedicated group of young musicians who wanted to share their music with the camp community.
Ari Weiss was one of those musicians.
Ari was at camp for all eight weeks but only a part of the Nivo U band for the first four (officially). We kept bringing Ari back for guest appearances both in our practices and our performances for the next four weeks. We just couldn't get enough of him. His musicianship and talent were unparalleled. More importantly, though, his humanity, his kindness, his compassion and his dedication to his friends was inspiring.
He was our Ramah Darom rock star, taking the stage by storm and taking our hearts into his own.
I remember on the last day of camp seeing him sobbing as he had to say goodbye to his friends. As an adult, the tears shed at the end of a camp session often seem excessive. Afterall, we'll be back here before too long and in between we have multiple ways to stay connected. But his tears were real - he was genuinely mourning the end of a sacred time in his life. If only I had known the value and importance of those tears. If only I had known the depth of mourning that was to come, then I would have shared those tears with him instead of shedding them now - alone.
So let me just thank you, Ari, for helping me become the musician, educator and person that I am because I knew you. You reminded me that music is nothing if not a way for our souls to be elevated by harmony. Your melody will continue to ring in the Bam and your rhythm will always rock the Beit Am.
Zichrono livracha - may Ari's memory be for a blessing.