Wednesday, March 02, 2011

Remembering Asher Strobel

I once heard a rabbi open a eulogy with the question, "How do you sum up a life?" Three weeks ago on Thursday night in The Frisch School about 500 people filled the shul to try to answer that question regarding the short life of Asher Strobel.

The principal, Dr. Kalman Stein, remembered Asher fondly in his sophisticated talk. Other leaders spoke as well. Respects were paid in an honorable fashion.

There were striking speeches from friend upon friend. They attempted to capture Asher's essence through anecdotes. They spoke with strong and warm love. One of the most memorable quotes came from his cousin and fellow graduate, Edith Lang, who applied to Asher, in the most positive sense, the saying that you don't remember what someone says or does to you but how they make you feel.

Asher made people joyful and comfortable. He'd see the movies they wanted to and play their choice of video game and make them feel it was what he wanted - so recalled one buddy. Asher was accommodating. He was easy going. He once played an entire football game with his hands in his pockets because it was cold. The other team decided they didn't have to worry about the guy with his hands tucked away. In the last moments of the game he moseyed into the end zone, removed his hands from his pockets, calmly caught the ball, and won the game. "Classic."

Another time he arranged a trip for friends that involved boating and driving in the country. The car broke down, the boat was old and not sea worthy, so they turned back and headed for the long journey home. And on the way back Asher said sincerely with joy and not a trace of irony, "Great day!"

Asher stood out due to his joie de vivre. I experienced this first hand when he was my student. He did his work and did it well; more-so he filled the room with vibrant happiness. My perception was matched by everyone who met Asher. He was immensely likable. As one friend put it, Asher was "as authentic as it gets." Another said that his outstanding middah was his good heart. By all accounts he was a sweetheart. He was a dear friend to many and he truly brought joy to the world.

I have been thinking about this since I first heard the tragic news. I've been considering writing about the memorial since it took place. The loss, and the remembering of the life lost have served to drive home the point of how fragile life is.

At the end of the Azkarah, Rabbi Zev Reichman, fittingly, encouraged people to take on Asher's attributes. May we be blessed to cherish every second of life and live with joie de vivre the way Asher did.


Blogger kishke said...

He looks like a nice person.

March 2, 2011 at 11:06 PM  
Blogger torontopearl said...

Yes, sometimes it does take a while to reel in one's thoughts -- if you can even manage to do that. You captured Asher, z"l, with your words and with those of others.
Nice job.
May his neshama have an aliya.

March 2, 2011 at 11:10 PM  
Blogger rabbi neil fleischmann said...

Thank you dear friends/readers for your quick comments/words of consolation.

He was a nice person, though that can be one of those words that needs to be given more meaning by being explained with details.

I wrote, when I first heard the news - here:

I wrote on the first day of school after it happened, while processing - here:

March 2, 2011 at 11:55 PM  
Blogger kishke said...

I was just judging by the picture. It's an open, friendly face.

March 3, 2011 at 12:09 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I was touched and grateful for these words about Asher. Your Description of his joie de vivre was perfect. I was always delighted to see him in shul, but, amazingly, he was always happy to see ME--one of hundreds of his parents "older lady"friends--he'd greet me with his huge smile and ask about my family! He was special in a truly special family. His years were short, but his mitzvot were as many as man 4 times his age. Thank you, RN

March 3, 2011 at 2:17 AM  

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