Rabbi Joey Felson Remembers Amir

Rabbi Joey Felson shared the following at Chabad at Stanford’s memorial service for Amir, March 29, 2004.

Ever since I got the news, I’ve been thinking about Amir. He was such a unique figure for me at Stanford – someone I connected with very strongly.

One thing I felt with Amir was that he was sure about where he hoped to be headed in life, and he was a person who was extremely thought out. We used to study every week–at certain points he wanted to study Gemara, as he said he had never been turned on by it. Then at certain points, he switched and said – I really want to home in on my passion and look through seferim to see what speaks about education.

I said to him – Well, we could start…

He said, No let’s go and see the breadth and what speaks to us. So we went to the library, and we found things that are eclectic – and he would say – this speaks to me – he would say “this is incredible because I might be able to get credit for this!”

What’s amazing is – I’ve had a lot of people trying to get credit studying with a rabbi – but the difference with Amir is – he said, This is what I want to do. I want to be an educator and I think that my tradition has so much to say about education. I want to access these texts as an educator.

He would just start talking about the realities of life in a very clear and direct way. He was an individual who would spend a lot of time in contemplation and would really think and come to very interesting observations about life and the people around him. I’ve very rarely met a person who could just put it on the table the way Amir Lopatin would put it on the table. He would put an issue on the table and say, let’s talk about it!

He was in pursuit of some higher level of existence for himself and the people around them.

When people pass on, very often the reaction is what to do in his memory/honor – but we forget that one of the most powerful things you can do is to try to figure out what they represented in your life, and then take that and bring it into your life.

Can everyone think about how they can become a little more focused about what they want to do? That is honoring him. I would leave conversations with him and say, “I wish I thought about things as much as he did.” I want to try to carve space in my schedule to do that, and I will have him in mind.