In Memory of Amir Lopatin    
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 Rabbi Mychal Copeland, Rabbi at Stanford Hillel, remembers Amir Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Friday, April 09 2004 @ 01:11 AM Eastern Daylight Time
Rabbi Mychal Copeland, the Rabbi at Stanford Hillel, participated in Chabad at Stanford's memorial for Amir, held on March 29, 2004.

Rabbi Copeland lit a yartzeit candle and said:

"The soul is akin to a has not gone out – as Lizzie so beautifully said, his soul has returned to its source..."

Rabbi Copeland then read psalm 23...

"The lord is my shepherd"
The LORD is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures:
He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul:
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for his name's sake.
Though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil:
For you are with me;
Your rod and your staff they comfort me.
You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies:
You anoint my head with oil; My cup runneth over.
Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life,
And I will dwell in the house of God for ever.

Then she read words of Rabbi Kushner:

"'...I walk thru the valley of the shadow death'... – the miracle is that we find our way out...The advice of the psalmist is - Don’t be afraid to love people; don’t be afraid of losing. Trust God to enter into your pain and make it less dark; less frightening..."


 Daniel Silverberg Remembers Amir Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Friday, April 09 2004 @ 01:06 AM Eastern Daylight Time
The following was delivered by Daniel Silverberg as part of Chabad at Stanford's memorial service for Amir, March 29, 2004.

I first met Amir in Yeshiva 10 years ago. We overlapped a month before I returned to college.

I got back in touch with him after his father died over the summer. Shortly after Amir arrived in California, we met up at the Law School Caf to talk. I was amazed by the sensitivity and thoughtfulness he demonstrated about the events that had engulfed his family for the past year. His father’s illness and recent passing, the Shiva period, his moving out to Stanford. He was so honest and aware of his emotions, so full of life, which at this most difficult moment made him such an optimist. He told me about a woman he was in love with. He shared with me his honest fears about being away from his family, but how excited he was to start at Stanford. We immediately began speaking about issues of faith and Torah; including his newfound appreciation for the practical aspects of Jewish law following his father’s death.

I felt motivated by his intensity, his willingness to maintain avenues of questioning and to press himself intellectually in a manner I hadn’t done in years. Amir was a person who kept his feet to the spiritual fire; whereas I felt complacent in my questioning and spiritual development since yeshiva, Amir was still engaged in learning and growing. I told my wife Sarah after meeting him that I felt like I was back in Yeshiva while talking to Amir, back in an environment where people asked themselves each day, "where am I spiritually," how am I doing?

I didn’t see much of Amir after that, but I appreciate what he gave me that day.


 Adina Danzig, Executive Director of Stanford Hillel, Remembers Amir Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Friday, April 09 2004 @ 01:01 AM Eastern Daylight Time
The following was delivered by Adina Danzig, Executive Director of Stanford Hillel, as part of Chabad at Stanford's memorial service for Amir, March 29, 2004.

I met Amir when he first came to Stanford. He was looking for the right place to go to pray.

I was amazed at how quickly you could see this person honoring so deeply his father; and at the same time struggling with his own relationship with Judaism – but wanting to honor his father in a way that his father would want.

He had such a generous spirit of honesty and wisdom...


 Reverend Scotty McClellan, Dean of Religious Life at Stanford, remembers Amir Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Friday, April 09 2004 @ 12:56 AM Eastern Daylight Time
The following poem was read by Reverend Scotty McClellan, Dean of Religious Life at Stanford, as part of Chabad at Stanford's memorial service for Amir, March 29, 2004.

Time is too slow for those who wait
Too swift for those who fear
Too long for those who grieve
Too short for those who rejoice
But for those who live in present – time is eternity
Hours fly, flowers die; but love stays.

--Henry Jackson van Dyke


 Rabbi Dov Greenberg Remembers Amir Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Friday, April 09 2004 @ 12:52 AM Eastern Daylight Time
The following was delivered by Rabbi Dov Greenberg, Chabad Rabbi at Stanford, as part of a memorial service held for Amir on March 29, 2004, at the Greenberg's home in Palo Alto, CA.

This is an informal gathering – it’s not about speeches, it’s about friends coming together to mourn. I want to encourage everyone to be open and honest so we can honor the soul of Amir.

I first met Amir a few hours after he came to Stanford. Sunday morning, he knocked on my door. I knew about Amir because [his sister] Shoshana had emailed me, and Daniel Silverberg had let me know he would be here. I knew he just lost his father. So he told me about his background; how he used to be somewhat of a rebel. He was saying Kaddish for his Dad; that first day, he asked many questions--he wanted to know where the shul was, wanted to say Kaddish for his father...

One of our last times together was Purim – we were in the Treehouse, dancing, making l’chaims; Amir was there on the side smiling – he didn’t dance – he didn’t seem to want to. I was wondering why. Then on the way home, I realized he was right: Jewish law says that no dancing is allowed for a year when one has lost a close relative; Amir knew the law and that I had forgotten, and he didn’t say anything. He knew if he had said "I can’t," maybe I would have been embarrassed; or it would have dampened others’ happiness. It was so classic Amir. He just smiled with a certain love and sensitivity.

We say the Kaddish when someone dies. Yitgadal v’yitkadash shimei rabah. The Kaddish glorifies and magnifies God’s name. Why do we say this now? In a sense, when someone is taken, its not like a few people are mourning. In a deeper sense, when a person is taken who reflects God’s image – when that person is taken, a certain love is taken; a certain piece of God – Kaddish tries to put back a piece of that part of God.

...Another story--We were building a large Sukkah – having a tough time!
Amir rides by. "Rabbi let me help." He was behind in his studies. He was trying to help! I said, "you should go"...He said, "Rabbi I’m not leaving until the Sukkah’s standing." I remember thinking, if only his mom and dad could see him now - they raised a real mensch.

To conclude, I want to thank Amir for something I never got to thank him for. We got involved with a project at Stanford called “Linking Hearts” to help kids with special needs. He started objecting to the project based on funding and analysis – he didn’t like the unprofessional approach we were taking. A few weeks ago, he sent a significant contribution to “Linking Hearts.” We sent a thank you note to him; a week and a half ago it came back – we got the address wrong. Rachel called Amir and we got the address and sent it to him. I doubt he ever opened it. And so I want to thank him now for being part of that process. We are now calling the project “Linking Hearts for Amir Lopatin” and there will be a plaque in his memory.

When the Torah talks about Aaron’s passing, it says that the whole House of Israel wept; when Moshe died it says that the House of Israel wept. It doesn’t say “whole.” Why? Aaron represented love and peace – and peace only has friends. Moshe brought truth – truth has friends and enemies – Amir in Hebrew is a combination of Moshe and Aaron – and he had both a tremendous knack for truth and honesty, and an incredible ability to love and bring peace...

One of the times Amir stopped by, he took out his palm pilot – it had many different melodies recorded on it... Mendel, my two-and-a-half-year-old son came in and played with it. I told Amir he probably shouldn’t give it to Mendel. When Amir left, [Mendel] wasn’t happy that his new toy had departed.

The next day, there was knock at the door, and there was Amir with a box all wrapped up... It was a tape recorder that you could record and sing into – and it was exactly what Mendel loved about the palm pilot. Amir was someone who truly wanted to change the world – and he somehow understood what a child wanted.


 On the occasion of celebrating the life of Amir Lopatin Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Friday, April 09 2004 @ 12:40 AM Eastern Daylight Time
The following was delivered by Amir's friend Lizzie as part of Chabad at Stanford's memorial service for Amir, March 29, 2004.

"On the occasion of celebrating the life of Amir Lopatin"

Dov called me last night at around 9pm, as I was finishing dinner at an Indian Restaurant in Palo Alto. "Shavua tov!" I said with characteristic ebullience. "I actually have some tragic news," he said, deflating the red balloon of my new week.

Amir– I think I remember every conversation we ever had, for two reasons: One, there weren't that many of them, as far as friendships go. That was not by choice or design, rather, because I mostly saw you on Shabbat and other special occasions. Two, they were all incredibly interesting, and I always felt both challenged and rewarded by sharing ideas with you and listening to your thoughts. I know many people felt the same way. You have a very memorable mind, my friend. A memorable mind, an adorable face, a kind, caring heart, and a pure, golden soul that has returned to God. It brought with it a life of your experiences and dreams, reunited with the One source that creates and sustains everything, and now we are here, our souls connected to yours, to remember you.
I met you for the first time in Dov's sukkah. Fancying ourselves honorary grad students, Emily and Carla and I walked over to Chabad's shabbat grad dinner. We squeezed in through the opening in the side and looked for empty seats. There were a few, one next to a grad student on the one side of the table, one next to you. I chose the one next to you. I think Aaron Master was sitting near by us, but you know how it is at these crowded Chabad meals: you can only really talk to the person sitting next to you if you want to get into more than superficial conversation. So you and I got to know one another, spoke easily and freely. I'm from Chicago, you from New York. I'm a senior, you're a first year Education PhD student. What do I want to do with my life? Knowing you had gone to Orthodox school I hesitated… may as well just out myself: I want to be a rabbi. Okay, let me have it. Give me all the reasons why it's wrong and I shouldn't.
Instead you smiled. You were impressed. "I think it's great," you said. "But why Judaism?" I didn't understand. "The texts are so dry," you continued. “I mean, of all religious books the Torah is so boring, and horribly written in parts. Speaking from the vantage point of literature, there's so much better stuff out there to read. I mean, all that genealogy and begat stuff at the beginning… it's totally uninteresting!"
I would later learn that this was your irreverent, whimsical side coming out. And furthermore, your words came from a place of deep education, knowledge, and respect.
But at the time I was groping for a rope– there I was thinking that this, here, right now, is my only chance to save yet one more Jew from defecting because he doesn't think Judaism is spiritual enough. And I was at the same time intrigued– what are you doing celebrating Shabbat, I wondered, if you think Judaism's so boring? So before returning to Torah, we talked about observance.
"My dad died of cancer a few months ago," you told me. "I'm saying kaddish. It's what he would want me to do."
"And you keep Shabbat still?"
"Yeah. I'm trying to find meaning in all of it," you said.
I could relate to that. "You know," I said, "Rashi gives a reason for all of the boring begats in Genesis. If the Torah is supposed to be a guidebook for Jewish living, then the question is, why begin at the beginning and go through all of that? Why not just lay down all the laws? It's that God wants to show that the world was created for a purpose, to tie the story of the very creation of the world to our lives as Jews. All the begats are our primal ancestry, leading up to Avraham, leading into the Israelite lineage, and then of course, into Egypt, out of Egypt, and to the mitzvot."
Amir, you should know at that moment, right after I was done talking, a few things were going through my head. 1. I am a huge poser. Who am I to be talking about Rashi? What do I know about Rashi, for God's sake? I probably got whatever he said wrong and misquoted him completely. 2. I must look like such an idiot talking about Rashi to someone who went to Orthodox school and probably learnt that piece in seventh grade. 3. What is this sudden need I feel to save you?
And then you did the nicest thing, that I couldn't tell at the time was totally sincere. You said, "Yashar koach! That was really nice."
I don't think anyone had ever said that to me in one-on-one conversation, but then, it's not often I go off as if on a pulpit, in normal conversations. "Well, I didn't think of that, of course," I said, embarrassed, kicking myself mentally for trying to be some sort of chacham over dessert. "Yeah," you said, "but that makes sense. I like that."
You and I walked back in the direction of campus after dinner with a few people. You told me about the years you'd spent in Salt Lake City as we passed the Mormon Church. I looked forward to getting to know you. I wondered what you thought about me.

Rather than go over the details of my every interaction with you, let me try and remember out loud the qualities that characterized you in all those instances. You remembered things, were concerned about my life and what I was doing. You asked me about rabbinical school, what I was looking at and where, what all the considerations were. You would engage in conversation, that is, you listened well and responded to what was said– you didn't assume things, you took in and turned over ideas. You were thoughtful. Needless to say, patience and thoughtfulness are qualities the world could benefit from more people having. You exemplified them.
You were funny. At first I didn't realize it, but you were. Funny, irreverent, you poked subtle fun, but always in a nice way. You were straight up– that is, I think you had very clear vision about a lot of issues and could communicate it well and argue your viewpoints, like a good New Yorker. And man, what cemented a place for you in my heart: you complimented my jewelry. Every Shabbat you would comment on something new: Like the earrings, like the ring, what a great watch. I remember at the end of last quarter I must have been wearing all your favorite things because you said, "Wow, it's like Lizzi's greatest hits!" Amir, I would say, I love that you have such a good sense fashion when it comes to women's jewelry, namely, taste for mine. And I love that you are secure enough in your masculinity to comment on it. Well, you said, it's the next best thing to wearing jewelry myself.
Now that I think about it, you were great at giving compliments and bad at receiving them, like a person with a healthy sense of humility (perhaps so healthy it bordered on pathological). It's been said that what one says about other people reflects their own qualities. If that's the case, you should consider yourself an extraordinary person. Unique, deep, a ponderer, a doer, a question-asker, an action-taker. I don't think you gave yourself enough credit for all your positive attributes.

The last time I saw you was Purim. I sat next to you for the megilla reading, we shared a book, you read through the Hebrew and I the English, that is, when we weren't kibbitzing quietly. You looked across the room and leaned in and said, "Hey, that guy, he's like the quintessential good-looking guy, isn't he?"
"Guess what," I whispered back. "When given the choice to sit next to you or him at dinner at Sukkot, remember? I sat next to you."
You were shocked. Flattered, speechless. You blushed. I'm glad I got to tell you to your face something to make you feel good. The other part of that conversation I remember was you letting me know that you just had the best Shabbat day of your year: you skipped shul and lunch, and went for a long bike ride in the hills. I was so glad for you, to see you crafting your Jewish life, trying not to feel guilty about experiencing Shabbat in your own way. Good for you, I said. "Yeah," you sort of nodded in self-affirmation, almost surprised at yourself. "It was really nice."

Amir, I don't know what happened in that car when your soul ascended, merged back into God like a wave back into the ocean. I am still in disbelief that I will not be seeing you at any more Shabbat dinners, randomly in Hillel, driving around in the new orange Element you only bought, in which we drove to Tahoe two months ago. The kosher co-op will be missing a crucial member in you– both a leader and a positive presence. Other people can speak to your involvement in the Education department, Jewish learning, Linking Hearts, and other social action projects around campus. I only know from your kindness and friendship, both of which came in abundance. I pray that some of your spirit has spilled over into those of us whose path you crossed. I feel blessed to have known you, even for these short months. I will miss you.

Baruch dayan emet, replies Jewish tradition in the face of an untimely deaths such as yours. Blessed is the true judge. There is some deeper meaning in your death that we do not and will not understand. I won't presume to comprehend any part of that truth or meaning. But I will ask, What has your life taught me? What can your death teach us? It's funny how it all comes down to cliches: Life is so precious and fragile. At its end we must ask what we will be remembered for? It will be our kindnesses, our moments of sweetness and compassion, our acts of chesed, our words of sincerity. Out the window go our possessions, our petty concerns, our trivial daily battles. We will wonder, How did we give love and respect? How much light and love did we let in, and how much did we give out?
Baruch dayan emet. In the honor of your life and memory, may I be a more patient listener and a better friend to those waves in the ocean still rolling. One day we will all join you.

I think of you with so much affection and friendship, my friend. May your soul light the way for others.
In peace, Lizzi.


 The Daily Stanford Reports on Amir Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Friday, April 02 2004 @ 01:28 AM Eastern Standard Time
By Michael Miller

March 30, 2004

First-year School of Education graduate student Amir Lopatin died last Thursday in a car accident near Las Vegas at the age of 28. Lopatin had just begun a doctoral degree in the Learning Sciences and Technology Design program.

Friends and acquaintances said Amir was a smart, inquisitive student and would be missed as much for his approach to life as for his educational contributions.

"He was extremely multidisciplinary," said his brother Uri Lopatin. "For example, he was a computer genius who loved outdoor things."

Amir was active in the Orthodox Jewish community at Stanford and was quickly making friends in his first few months on campus.

"He was a very bright, intensive person, and extremely friendly," said Rabbi Joey Felsen, who works with Hillel. "He also liked to spend time with his thoughts."

"The Orthodox Jewish community at Stanford is small," Felsen added. "For us it is a very big loss."

Amir grew up in Englewood, New Jersey, and completed a computer science degree at Brown University, where he was on the Ultimate Frisbee team. Later, while he was working in New York City, Amir founded the New York City Public Ultimate League, which he ran until coming out to Stanford.

"The league was my brother’s brainchild," Uri said.

Just beginning to find his place at Stanford, Amir had already impressed professors with his intelligence and incisive questions.

"He had great enthusiasm, great intellectual integrity," said Assoc. Prof. Dan Schwartz, who taught Amir. "He was bold to state his opinion and you always learned more when you talked to him."

Amir had already made an impact on colleagues in his small doctoral program of about 15 students.

"I’m going to miss that he’s a straight-shooter," said master’s student Paula Wellings. "He would tell you exactly what he’s thinking ... and he was sweet."

Amir was taking advantage of the sunny weather, driving back from Las Vegas with childhood friend Jonathan Wilson from New Jersey when his new Honda Element flipped. Wilson was in critical but stable condition at University Medical Center in Las Vegas.

"He said [Stanford] was one of the most beautiful places he’d ever seen," said Joe Rosen, a research scientist who worked with Amir. "He was very happy here."

"Not only will I miss him at a personal level, but at a professional level he will be greatly missed," Rosen also said. "I’ve been doing this for 25 years and there were things I could learn from Amir."

Amir had gone back to school to try to apply technology to learning, moving beyond the design and programming he had pursued in private industry.

"He wanted to help find ways of helping people learn," said Uri. "He was enamored by the concept of education."

A funeral for Amir took place on Sunday in Englewood, and a memorial gathering was held last night at Stanford. His family has set up a Web site at, which will have information about a foundation to be set up in his memory.

Amir is survived by his mother Sara, his older sister Shoshana and his older brother Uri.


 Paul Kim, Chief Technology Officer at SUSE Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Wednesday, March 31 2004 @ 01:14 PM Eastern Standard Time
My deepest and sincere sympathies to the Lopatin family.
After getting this message, I just went back to my mail folders to recognize his previous works he completed while he was taking my EDUC391 class. I still have all of his writings in my mail folder. It is so difficult to accept that such an energetic and brilliant colleague is no longer with us. His wit, humor, and questions he presented in various discussions with me will be missed immensely.

- Paul


 A great friend and roomate Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Wednesday, March 31 2004 @ 04:24 AM Eastern Standard Time
For about half a year now Amir and I were roommates here at Stanford, and I still can't quite accept the fact that he is gone so suddenly.

I really miss him, because we developed a great friendship, and living with him was fun. I got along well with other roommates, but with him I really connected, and we became involved in each other's social lives. My sometimes reserved attitude after a tiring day didn't faze Amir, rather he cracked it with some good-natured humor and we ended up having some profound conversations. We went to parties together, we went mountain biking, played some computer games, and genuinely took an interest in each other's well-being. We even started sharing a few deeper thoughts about our girlfriends, however cautiously. I think all this is the result of Amir's great personality and genuine straightforward attitude, and the respect I have for him as a person of moral integrity, critical and unbiased thinking, and tolerance towards others. On the surface, Amir and I have somewhat different cultural backgrounds, I grew up in Germany and am fairly liberal, and Amir said early on that he was somewhat conservative - yet surprisingly, I never felt the slightest bit of tension between us, indeed, I never before had a roommate as wonderful as him.

Amir - I lost a great friend in you, and I miss the occasional hollering each other's name when we returned home - this is but one small example of how there were many things which you brought along, some of which were unlike me, but all of which enriched my life.

- Sebastian Osterfeld


 Just a shout out to Amir... Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Wednesday, March 31 2004 @ 12:38 AM Eastern Standard Time
I never got to talk to you, but you were in my Visualization class last quarter. I think we shared some cookies from the table, and I thought your insight and enthusiasm was very refreshing. I'm proud to have been a student alongside you.