Some people transcend borders. Some personalities are too big to be relegated to just one community and their work; their reputation and courage transcend city limits or country borders.
Rabbi Yehuda Simes was one of those people. January 27 marked his first yahrzeit but his memory lives on and a new Sefer Torah is being purchased as a legacy to his memory.
A rabbi, scholar and teacher who was born in the United States and lived in Canada, his passing in February 2017 left a huge hole in the lives of his family – his wife Shaindel, their children and extended family – and affected his community which included his synagogue, former students, friends and strangers alike who heard about him, followed him, and admired him.
How do we honour such a man?
Rabbi Simes loved his family. He loved Judaism. He loved his community and he loved learning. Those closest to him have chosen to honour him by purchasing a Torah in tribute.
The Rabbi Simes Torah Project is a celebration of the man who impacted so many lives. As a husband and father, the Torah will be a reminder of how he lived his life according to Jewish values. As a teacher, the Torah will be a symbol to all his students. As a community member, the Torah will act as a beacon of Jewish learning, and to all the Torah will be a symbol of hope, remembrance and strength.
When faced with adversity, many people give up, but Rabbi Simes did the opposite. After a tragic highway accident left him a quadriplegic, he embraced his new reality and sought to inspire others with his incredible story and boundless courage. He created a blog, “Rolling Rabbi” – https://rollingrabbi.wordpress.com/ – where he shared his successes and setbacks, musings and milestones, trials, tribulations and triumphs. His ‘new normal’ was inspiring all around him and his presence could light up and inspire a crowd like a rock star.
We invite you to join in honouring Rabbi Yehuda Simes by making a dedication in his honour. The goal is to purchase the Torah and invite the community to a Torah inscription event this spring. His son Yitzhak hopes to use the Torah when he becomes a bar mitzvah next year.
Donations may be made at www.cbto.org/donate/ or by contacting Congregation Beit Tikvah at 613-723-1800 or firstname.lastname@example.org. In the U.S., donations can be made online at www.jewcer.org/project/rabbisimestorahproject. Facebook users can follow the project’s progress at www.facebook.com/RabbiSimesTorahProject/.