By Rabbi Ira Budow
Almost 20 years ago, a young man from our sister city in Israel became a shaliach at Abrams Hebrew Academy. Yuval Miara spent five years at Abrams as a teacher and a friend to everyone with whom he came in contact.
It did not matter who you were — whether the most distinguished rabbi or the maintenance person — he treated everyone with the same respect and love. He brought a true love of humanity and the land of Israel to the school, and accompanied me and our students to many trips to Israel, sometimes even arranging housing with friends in his hometown of Netivot.
Yuval was my true friend — he lived with our family for several months while waiting for housing when he first came to the United States, and we were honored to attend his wedding to the love of his life, Meytal. After five years teaching at Abrams, he returned to Netivot, but soon realized that his true work was in the United States and moved to teach in Chicago and then in Florida. We always remained close and kept up with one another through the years — births, marriages, good times and bad.
He was teaching at the Sheck Hillel Community School outside of Miami when he called me three years ago to say that he had been diagnosed with end-stage lung cancer and was given a few months to live. However, the doctors did not know Yuval. He was a fighter and was determined to battle cancer as fiercely as he would any mortal enemy for the sake of his wife and four children. During the years of grueling treatments he never missed work, and when I told him that he should stay home and rest, he said, “I need to be at school.”
Most recently, when the end was imminent, I visited Yuval in his hospital room in Miami and was touched and amazed at how many visitors called and came in person to offer whatever help they could. His community in Florida raised $300,000 to help his family and did anything and everything to make the end of his life as comfortable as possible. It said everything there is to say about Yuval to experience the love and caring he engendered from his Florida community and people from afar who just wanted to help.
Yuval was a star — he gave his light and love to everyone he met. With his passing on March 24, my wife and I lost a dear friend, and our children a brother.
I am committed to keeping his spirit alive and pray that his memory be a blessing to all of us. Abrams traditionally do-nates a Torah to the Israel Defense Forces as part of its eighth-grade Judaic studies graduation ceremony each year at the Kotel. This year, we will dedicate a Torah in Yuval’s honor on May 7.
I am sure that Hashem will count him among the tzadikim and hold him in His embrace. I am grateful to have known this fine, young man.
Rabbi Ira Budow is the director of Abrams Hebrew Academy in Yardley.