My dear friend Yaakov Radin died this week. Only three months ago, his twin brother Yissi died as well. Much too young to die, leaving behind a young widow and even younger children. So many good people have died suddenly this past month; close friends, family. Yaakov is one of them.
I made Aliyah with my family during the summer of 2003. Our home is located in the spectacular desert just outside of Jerusalem. Soon after making Aliyah, we were honored to host a group of activists touring Israel during the Intifada, an especially difficult time here in Israel.
Yaakov was part of that group. We became friends for life. His love and support of Israel knew no bounds. Although he had yet to make Aliyah, a younger Yaakov years earlier had made 19-year-old Judy, his wife, promise that if anything were to happen to him, he was to be buried in Israel.
Throughout the years Yaakov would travel to Israel as often as he could, even after he began Dialysis. I was honored to have Yaakov both as a friend and as a client, someone who I guided throughout Israel together with his family a number of times.
That’s the thing about being a tour guide in Israel. So often your clients become your friends, sharing with you the love we have for the Land of Israel; Christians from Arkansas, England, Iowa, East Jerusalem or Hawaii. American Jews. Buddhists from Hong Kong. Moslems from Europe.
To become a tour guide over a decade ago, in order to devote my full attention to the course, I was required to pretty much give up all sources of income at the time. Not an easy task for a family man like myself in his late 40’s. Yaakov was one of those dear friends who offered to help me out financially during an extremely difficult period. And I didn’t even need to ask him. He came up with a plan and put it into action, saving the day. I am forever grateful.
Despite already being on Dialysis, he still managed to make it to Israel in January 2018 to celebrate his son’s Bar Mitzvah. It was an especially meaningful trip. At one point arrangements were made to meet up with Ari Fuld ob”m on an Army base to assist with lifting the spirits of Israeli soldiers with food and music. Go know that 8 months later Ari would be stabbed to death by an Arab terrorist.
That was Yaakov, always trying to figure out a way to help others, especially his brothers and sisters in Israel.
One of my warmest memories of Yaakov occurred in May of 2017. Yaakov and I had done lots of crazy things together over the years, like visiting Meron on Lag Baomer. One of the many benefits of serving as a tour guide is from time to time experiencing the unexpected.
On this particular trip of Yaakov in May, the movie Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 was being released in Israel. Although we tour guides typically want to give people the impression that we know it all, in all honesty, I had never heard of the Guardians. Yaakov, on the other hand, was a great fan and so, sure enough, we traveled to Cinema City in Jerusalem, and after enjoying our out of this world Ice cream at the Waffle Factory (Another Yaakov favorite) we went into the theatre to enjoy the show. Today I am in fact a great fan as well! (Before watching the movie with Yaakov I made sure to first watch the first Guardians of the Galaxy so that I would at least have some inkling of what the fuss was all about).
When Yaakov returned in January with his family, he was already on Dialysis. We worked around it. He wouldn’t allow it to interfere with this very important trip. The Bar Mitzvah was at the Kotel, and the party was on the mirpeset of my home. Yaakov never forgot that special night we enjoyed so many years before, and so it was there that he decided to celebrate his son’s Bar Mitzvah.
I loved Yaakov as he loved me. I miss him so.