You had the ability to change the world …one of very few. I think of you often…I miss you.
Hello Amir. I had a very difficult and painful weekend. While getting my hair cut today in preparation for Pesach, I suddenly realized that last week was your yarzheit. So then I understood why I overreacting to a recent personal challenge. And I knew I was thinking of you and the tremendous impact you had on my life and the lives of so many friends and acquaintances you touched. You will live in our hearts forever.
three 15 year old girls and three 15 year old boys went to a movie on Ceder Lane. Jonathan Wolf, Benjamin Prager & Amir Lopatin- Amir was very generous and offered to buy Pizza for everyone. He was very smart and analytical-he was friendly and amicable- he is missed.
There are two food items that I associate with Amir – 1998 Gan Eden Black Muscat kosher wine, and Trader Joe’s Bruschetta tomato topping. Both of these are very delicious foodstuffs that I hadn’t seen until Amir brought them back home and shared them when we were roommates at Stanford. Now these items are regulars in my kitchen, and they often bring back good memories and a silent toast to Amir.
Below are excerpts from a letter Amir kept in a file folder labelled “funny stuff.” The letter is dated April 26, 1993 and was written by a member of the Ramaz administration exasperated by Amir’s failure to conform with the Ramaz dress code. I love that Amir kept this letter, and I have to admit I am proud of my little brother for keeping the combine on its toes.
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Lopatin
It has been a longstanding tradition at Ramaz that students come to school on Yom Haatzmaut dressed in bigdei chag, the kind of clothes that they would wear on a yom tov . . . at the very least, the vast majority of male students come dressed in white shirts and ties.
Unfortunately, Amir came to school today dressed in blue jeans and a flannel shirt and tie. The dress code clearly states that dress shirts and required and any color of jeans is forbidden any day of the year, let alone on a day such as this. More important was the attitude he presented when asked about his attire. His responses ranged from alleged ignorance about dress code requirements …. to his insistence that he believes it is more important how he behaves than how he dresses. This is not the first time I have had discussions with Amir about the dress code or other issues. His attitude is frequently argumentative and unbending. I do not begrudge him his philosophical views; yet I must insist that the school’s rules be enforced and that the boundaries of appropriate behavior are not crossed.
I write you now to inform you of today’s incident and the sense of frustration that comes with it….
I only met Amir a couple of times through our friend Ben, and my story comes from when we were kids and Amir came out to Cape Cod to spend a week or so with Ben’s family. I have this memory because it was so very funny to me, and I hope that it can bring a smile to someone who reads it. If anyone knows the “The Cape” it was always a bit behind in technology and back in the early 80’s it was far far behind. Watching TV for instance meant spending a good amount of time fidgeting with the rabbit ears on black & white TV.
One day while playing a board game (most likely RISK, which now that I think about it, Amir introduced me to RISK) the TV was on in the background and some Tropicana commercial came on, the ad had a particular scene where they pictured an orange juice glass upside down for a moment. Amir happened to be walking by the TV at that same moment and apparently had had it with the poor reception he had been having. Well, he abruptly starting whaling on the TV cursing it to the extent only an adolescent can. Of course the commercial played on with the glass being turned right side up and Amir walked away pleased with his Fonzie-like fixing of the problem.
Again, I hope this brings a smile.
I don’t know whether this goes in “Brown” or “Stories.” In any case, this is just one example of how my time at Brown was made even more memorable by knowing Amir.
I met Amir early on at Brown (we being CS majors), but it wasn’t until our junior year that we became friends. We were both graphics geeks and I had the privilege of working with Amir on our final project for CS-224, one of those classes that makes geeks feel like blood brothers when they’re through. When our junior year ended, I was happy to hear that Amir had found a sublet for the summer right next door to my apartment on Governor St. There was a certain young woman that he was trying to impress so one day, he invited her and me (as wingman) to India Point to show off his sailing skills. He had been taking a sailing class and was now ready to brave the waters unsupervised. So the three of us hop in this little sailboat and Amir immediately starts ordering us around and telling us about the different ropes and doodads. After a few false starts, we’re off. Amir is pulling ropes, maneuvering the rudder. Then he says, “Hmm, this rope is tangled around the rudder. I’m gonna detach the rudder and try to fix it.” It wasn’t long before we found out that when you detach a rudder in open water, it’s nearly impossible to get it attached again. So Amir, looking slightly flustered now, says, “No worries, let’s just take down our sail. That’s the signal that we need help.” So we take down the sail, but there’s no sign that the boathouse employees are moving. The whole time, the boat is going wherever it wishes and we’re getting closer and closer to some pilings until !BANG! we crash right into them. We see the boathouse employees jump off their chairs and onto their waverunners. When they reached us, they looked totally pissed, but Amir just stood their calmly saying, “Didn’t you see me take down my sail?” Well, needless to say, that was the last time I stepped on a boat with Amir.
Amir, I can’t kick myself enough for saying, “Reunion’s coming up, I really need to get in touch with Amir.” You are sorely missed.
I want to share with everyone that last summer, in 2003, Amir registered for Hadar’s havruta (Torah study partner) matching program. (Hadar is a traditional egalitarian prayer and study group on the upper west side of Manhattan.) Just last week, in reviewing some of Hadar’s records on past programs, I came across Amir’s name and his request to “investigate the passages in the torah that give me the most trouble (e.g. slavery, sexism, etc.) in accepting it as a divine or even divinely inspired document.” I actually didn’t know Amir, but I have heard so much about him over the past few weeks – about his kindness, intellectual capabilities, love of life and pursuit of truth. I feel lucky to have found Amir’s entry and to have been moved and inspired by his pursuit of truth and his desire to not give up on Judaism but to study and struggle with some of the most difficult issues within the religion.
It was so many years ago it seems that Sara and Yossi welcomed me and my family to Englewood. We had a wonderful Shabbat dinner at their home one frigid Friday night. It was in their teeny tiny dinning room. It was at that time that I got to meet all the Lopatin children.
Shosh quiet, intelligent and beautiful, Uri, the Judo enthusiast and Amir. There was just something about Amir that I could not explain… a defiance of spirit done with charm, the challenge or pronouncement delivered with a half smile and twinkle in his eye.
It was another time that I drove Sara and Amir home from the JCC and after listening to Amir explain to Sara why he needed to do what he wanted to do, making an eloquent argument for his position that I turned to Sara and said, “Sara, this is your American Child.”
Amir, along with the rest of the Lopatin family, were an important part of my wedding in May of 1982.
Amir was the youngest guest and appeared to be in some discomfort at having to dress-up. But, there he was in a simple light blue suit, having trouble keeping his pants from slipping off of his waist and staring at all the people and glitter through very large, rimmed glasses.
After the wedding ceremony, I happened to walk into a room in back of the reception area and saw Amir standing about four feet from the wedding cake. No one else was in the room.
When I glanced at the cake, there were two neat holes in the bottom layer. Amir was looking intensely down at his shoes. I asked if he had seen who poked their fingers into the cake, adding that I suspected that this is something his father might do since he could never wait for desert to be served.
Amir immediately ran over to me, slid the appropriate two fingers into the holes and said “See .. everyone else has larger fingers than mine .. my Dad too! Will I have to go home now?”
I assured him that all was okay as he helped me adjust some of the adjacent icing to cover the damage.
Amir’s mind, even at that early age, was quick, not only to protect his father’s reputation, but to empirically prove that I was wrong in my assumptions.