Doing good to remember Judah

It is hard to imagine anything more devastating to parents than the death of their child.

On December 22, Nina Kampler and Dr. Zvi Marans of Teaneck — he is the immediate past president of the Jewish Federation of North Jersey — suffered that soul-deep pain when their son Judah died unexpectedly, less than a week before his 28th birthday.

Since Judah’s death, he has been remembered as a person of rare goodness and deep sensitivity, whose path through life, which took him from Yavneh and Ramaz through Brandeis to the law school at the University of California at Berkeley, where he was an outstanding student, brought him deep friendships and much love. Now, Chabad at Berkeley— an organization in which Judah was active — will honor him with the Judah Marans Day of Lovingkindness, set for March 10. The goal will be to have 1,000 random acts of kindness performed in his memory.

Because Judah always wore a kippah and was known for it, Chabad also plans to give out kippot in his name.

After Chabad at Berkeley came up with the idea, the other schools touched by Judah’s loving presence decided to join the campaign. Yavneh and Ramaz will be part of it, as will the Chabad at NYU, where Judah’s brother Ben is a student. SAR has become part of the program as well.

Although nothing can ever bring Judah back, his parents are glad that despite the pain with which they and their other three children, Gabe, Benjamin, and Dara, must live, and with which Judah’s family and friends also must cope, something good is coming out of the tragedy of his death. It is a helpful way for people to do actively good things in Judah’s memory and in his honor. As an actively good person himself, as a source of light and joy during his lifetime, it is an apt way to remember him.

Judah would have loved adding to the number of mitzvot, to the level of ease, to the sound of laughter, in the world on that day. On every day.

We urge our readers to to learn what they can do on March 10 — and on every other day — to contribute to raising the level of goodness in the world.


About the Author
Joanne is the editor of the Jewish Standard and lives in Manhattan with her husband and two dogs, so she has firsthand knowledge of two thriving and idiosyncratic Jewish communities. (Actually that's three communities, if you also count the dog people.)