When you were killed we had known each other for half our lives. We were 14 when we met at BBYO and you were already a leader. I guess the best of us are just born that way, not that you were born to lead it’s more that you were a born leader.
When I think about you Alan I think of a man who looked down the path at the rest of his life and saw both the things that he wanted and how to get them. You never even flinched when you saw your potential, never got scared, you attacked, you sprinted forward in search of your future and the rewards for doing so came thick and fast!
When we were 18 you walked up to the head of the Union of Jewish Students and told him that in three years you would have his job and exactly three years later it was yours. And that’s how you were. You wanted to be a member of parliament and I never heard you once speak about how hard it would be to get there. I just heard the grit, the sheer determination in your voice that you would make it and you were so close before a dark night in Georgetown when you were forever robbed of your future…and we were robbed of you.
But I can imagine you now just grinning at these words and shrugging your shoulders. Death will come for us all and you were never one to dwell on what might have been if only things worked out differently. Your life was what it was and if there was something you didn’t like about it you would simply change it.
I write these words now, in this most public of places because it’s important for me that people know that you existed, that they know that there was once a man called Alan Senitt who did more in 27 years than most will ever accomplish in 80. Even now, after seven years, people I have never spoken to still get in touch with me and ask me to wish your family long life in their name.
You had the rarest of gifts Alan, not only could you lead people, but those people you lead followed you not because you were the most authoritative or the most charismatic but simply because they wanted you to give them that enormous grin of yours and to hear you tell them that they had done an amazing job.
Whoever you were speaking to you were speaking to them on their level and man at one point or another you spoke to everyone! From the chair of the local Islamic Society when you were studying in Birmingham to the President of the State of Israel to the King of Jordan to the Jews you represented throughout the UK during the two terms you served as the head of UJS.
But this isn’t why I was always in awe of you, I was in awe of you because you managed to be everyone’s friend! While I was busy purposely being exclusive you went out of your way to make a friend of everyone. I know right now that there are dozens of people around the UK (and further afield) all reflecting on the personal relationships they had with you. All remembering the time you made them feel like they had a friend in you.
So how is it possible that when I woke up this morning it wasn’t the 7th anniversary of your passing, it was just Tuesday.
Have I really forgotten you already? Have I really forgotten the camps we went on and the adventures we shared? Have I really forgotten the friend who came through with me from childhood to adulthood and beyond?
How is it possible that the passage of time has led me to forget so easily the void that existed in my life the moment you died. That moment when I dispassionately watched four friends crying on each other’s shoulders while I simply sat on a chair and tried to contemplate a future without you in it. You were always there, you were always the one I called when it was the weekend, the one I spoke to when I needed to speak to someone, the one who told me what was happening next. How could I have forgotten?
Those questions hurt me for the whole day until I came to understand that you would be looking at me in amazement if you knew I was even asking them. You, the one who didn’t dwell on anything, you who moved relentlessly forward in search of your goals and achievements, never allowing anything to hold you back.
Yesterday you were gone and today you still are but I only realised the lesson you have to teach me when I thought about you on this day, exactly seven years after I lost you.
From today I will live my life like you lived yours.
From today I will move forward in unyielding pursuit of my own potential in precisely the way you did. I won’t balk nor will I yield to the fear of the unknown, nor that of failure I will achieve my own objectives and I will make you proud of me as much as I and so many others are proud of you and tonight when I raise a glass in your honour I won’t be saying your name I will be saying “to life” and i’ll mean it.
For 27 years there was a man on this earth called Alan Senitt, he was a giant amongst us and all those who knew him loved him.