David I. Cohen

I Did Not Know Ari

Sometimes it is hard to sort out emotions. Maybe “sort out” is not the correct expression. Maybe it is more the inability of trying to make sense of the different feelings that have come over me, one after the other, repeating and repeating.

I did not know Ari Fuld. I have probably met him. I have shared Shabbat meals with his parents, and I see them all the time in the synagogue that I attend. So, why do I feel so sad, and then so angry and then so guilty, if I but dare to laugh at something, and then so full of doubts, and then so full of awe at how his family can cope, and then so — I don’t know what. No, I did not know Ari, and I probably would not have completely understood his strong beliefs and his pro-active life.  I have doubts of ever knowing the right answers and I never had the courage to put myself out there to try and change things for the better. But the fact that the best and the strongest of us is no longer here, shakes me.

I did not know Ari, but I have seen people like his killer before. Someone asked how a 17 year old could take a knife and stab a random stranger? That does not surprise me in the least. For almost 40 years I stood in courtrooms facing angry and violent young people who have committed savage crimes filled with horror, violence and bloodshed. It happens. This is not to excuse… far from it… Especially at this time of the year, we know that everyone has a choice to make. They choose to express themselves in violence and death, and in so doing, destroy worlds. There is no excuse for the fact that these young violent thugs are evil. Ari knew that there is evil in this world. We all just did not know that it would strike one who so strongly stood up and fought against that evil.

I did not know Ari, but in some way, everyone did. And still we go on. We know and fear deep down that it could just as randomly happen to us or to our families. Yet, we revert back to our old self and our old ways, pretending that it won’t happen to us. And I will feel guilty that I will not always remember. My prayers this year will be a bit different. I will ask that my remaining time, whatever that is, will have one one-hundredth the significance of the life Ari led. I only wish that I had gotten to know him.

About the Author
David I. Cohen was a State's Attorney in Connecticut for 37 years , serving on the Management, Technology and Capital Crime committees. He was an instructor in talmud at Bi-Cultural day School in Stamford, CT. He made aliya in 2015.
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