The last time I saw Amir was in Dahlia and Benji’s wedding. It was almost two and a half years ago.

It didn’t even occur to me that this would be the last time I’m going to see him. With me coming to visit NYC every now and then, and with him having family in Israel – I was sure we’ll meet again. No doubt.

We missed each other when I visited NYC last year and when he was in Israel last August. I later found out that he was trying to catch up with me on that visit.

I emailed him after his father had died to express my condolences, and in his response he apologized for not calling me when he was here for his father’s burial. He also said it is good hearing from me and wanted to know what is going on with my life. I found it remarkable that at such time he could think of me and not only of himself.

He wrote me some things about healing that now seem macabre.

In the past month I feel (again, macabre) much closer to Amir than I have felt in a while. Since he and the Lopatins are in my mind every day ever since…

I want to say something about the Lopatins. I strongly believe that a big portion of who we are is a result of the way we were brought up and the values we got from our family and our home.

Meeting the Lopatins recently just confirmed it. I can see why Amir was the way he was, where he got his uniqueness from.

I met Mrs.Lopatin, Uri and Shoshana when they were in Israel for Chag Sheni of Pesach, shortly after the accident. Even though I hardly knew them – it was very important for me to visit them while they were here. For me, it was the closest I could get to a shiva call.

I was so nervous before I went to see them. I mean, I’m going to visit a family at its hardest hour. I don’t really know them. What will I say? What possibly can I do or say to ease their pain? And so I went.

And I was so happy that I did. I met an amazing family, which I instantly felt a bond to. It didn’t feel weird to be there; on the contrary, they made me feel like they knew me, and we spoke about Amir. Uri and I started a discussion (of course…) about god, faith, and religion. Big questions. I wasn’t ‘ready’ for it but I loved it. It took us about 2 weeks to not finish it.

I saw the Lopatin family twice in that week. Spending some time with them brought back part of Amir to me. I felt thankful for the opportunity to meet this family.

And you know, I keep using the word family. Mishpacha. For me, as an only child – 3 is a family.

I’ve lately learned, in slightly similar circumstances, that close friends are family as well, not necessarily less than the real one. And from looking at Amir’s web site, watching the videos from his shloshim, and the short time I spent with you in Israel – I feel that you have a big family.

Shelo Ted-u Od Tza’ar.


The Hebrew Talks…

I guess this one will be clear only for those of you who know a bit of Hebrew…
Amir and I used to have lots of conversations that sounded like this email that I got from him.

—–Original Message—–
From: amir lopatin
Sent: Monday, March 31, 2003 10:15 PM
To: Shelly Hermetz
Subject: shalom

Giveret hermetz,

shamati she at tagiah l’artzot habrit. tagid li matai v’ im zot emet? Ani
mitgaageah lasichot shelanu B’Ivrit! … Ani mkubal le’ Stanford ph.d. b’shvil hashana sh e ba.


From his Israeli friend

It has been almost 3 hours now that I’ve been reading most if not all of the stories and memories about Amir. I feel that I can’t internalize what happened. Especially since I haven’t seen Amir in a while now…so the fact that I don’t hear from him is normal. It doesn’t mean that something horrifying just happened. Thinking about Amir in past tense doesn’t make any sense to me. It all seems to be a big mistake.

I had the privilege to work with Amir when I lived in NYC 2.5 years ago. I was his Israeli friend. Ever since I’ve heard about the accident, my brain has been flooded with memories of him, and I have so many of them.
Amir is one of the most curious, funny, genuine people I know. His enthusiasm for life was endless.
I used to have an English-Hebrew-English dictionary that both of us used. Me, trying to find a lost word in English and Amir, not giving up the idea that we should speak Hebrew to one another. No matter how hard it is. Since most of his Hebrew was kind of ‘biblical’ one, he wrote himself a contemporary dictionary that contained slang and more up to date phrases. He wanted to pass as an Israeli and practiced the ‘rough’ accent…
I remember he had a green IDF (Israel Defense Forces – TZAHAL) t-shirt he was wearing, asking me if he looks like he had been to the army. Oh, how much he loved asking me about the army service.

I can’t think of Amir without smiling. He was always making me laugh with his stories, thoughts and crazy ideas. That was what made him so special. It still does.
In Hebrew there is a saying – ‘Bemoto Tziva Lanu et Ha’chaim’ which means ‘In his death he ordered us on keep living’. I presume myself to think, Amir would want that.


“I don’t remember being anything but classy and sophisticated…”

This is an email Amir sent me soon after I moved back to Israel. I read it now and could feel Amir from it.

-Shelly (a former colleague)

October 19, 2001 12:27 PM

Hi shelly,
I hope things are good with you back in Israel. I miss you a lot here becuase there is nobody for me to talk with when I get bored. Also if I cannot work because my mind is off then there is nobody to tell about it becuase if I say it in english everyone will know I am not working, which sucks… Also I have done a lot of stupid embarassing things recently that you would have found funny but other people just think are stupid. Sorry if I acted like an idiot at your go-away party. I don’t remember being anything but classy and sophisticated but other people remember differently…