In Memory of Amir Lopatin    
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 A weekend at Brown Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  elijah_kaufman  
 Dated:  Friday, April 15 2005 @ 11:56 PM Eastern Daylight Time
I visited Amir at Brown in the spring of 1997. Dylan was playing in their hockey rink, like, in person. They dragged him out for a third encore, and he closed it up with Rainy Day Woman. Amir and I left halfway through the song, feeling slightly appalled but satisfied overall. We walked around the campus and town for a while, going from party to party. Amir stopped at a dorm where a girl that he liked was living. I remember him talking with her over the intercom. I don't remember what he said to her, but it was something so sweet and gentle. To this day I can't think about Amir without remembering that sweetness.

   

 Memorial Speech Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  JonWolfson  
 Dated:  Tuesday, April 12 2005 @ 11:30 PM Eastern Daylight Time

I would like to begin my speech by reciting some things that Amir wrote, along with my comments, interpretations, and memories. I knew Amir extremely well. He never allowed his deep thoughts to remain in his brain; he always had to share them with somebody. Because we were so close and because I was so often around him, I think I have a good take on the meanings and of the context of the things that he said.

Amir wrote this in his essay to Stanford, in his application to the program of Learning and Technology:

"I believe that computers and technology hold great potential in helping teachers meet this challenge and this is where I feel I can make a contribution. It is my belief that there is potential in modern computer technology to make elementary and high-school education far more engaging. At Teacher's College, I would like to use my technical skills to explore these possibilities."

I remember when we were in third grade at Moriah. It was 1985. Amir was nine or ten. One day, Mrs. Einhorn supervised us as we used the Apple IIe computers in Mr. Rand's computer room. Amir, who was known for having sloppy handwriting, typed a lot faster than most students in his class. Amir was an expert in Gertrude's Puzzles, the game we played that day. Most notably, Amir was a wizard at using The Print Shop, and he used the software to make a banner that said "Happy Birthday, Mrs. Einhorn" with a beautiful cake graphic. Mr. Rand the computer teacher was impressed. Even Mrs. Einhorn, who always yelled at Amir, was impressed, and I think she hugged him. Mrs. Einhorn did her weekly spot check of the desks to make sure the desks were cleaned. Usually, she dumped Amir's desk because it was too messy, and blew her whistle repeatedly. Amir usually made a frowning face. That day, however, she simply passed over his desk and did not dump it. Amir smiled. He beamed that day, because everyone in class treated him as this computer superman. Amir said how easy the stuff was, and we all thought he was a genius, more of a genius than we thought of him previously.

One of my first impressions of Amir is thus exactly what he wrote in his essay: He writes that he believes computers should be more utilized in elementary school, which is something he clearly felt eighteen years before. "It is my belief that there is potential in modern computer technology to make elementary school education far more engaging", he says. That was the chief part of elementary school that engaged Amir. It was so rare for us to use computers. It was so rare for Amir to be engaged. However, the few times we did use computers, Amir became a superman. He became engaged. He realized even at age nine that there is something powerful and engaging about using computers. At age 27, Amir felt it was time to actualize this. This is why he wanted to go to Stanford.

This triggers another memory. It was in Mr. Bermanís computer class in senior year at Ramaz, in 1994. The class was in Pascal. I remember Amir just plowed ahead in the books remarking how he studied arrays last week and today he is up to procedures and functions. I did not have a clue what he was talking about, but I smiled politely as he discussed all about Pascal with glee and excitement and passion. I thought to myself, "Gee, how nerdy. Amir is smart, but he is so obsessed with this computer stuff, that the girls will be turned off." Amir gathered enough Pascal knowledge to create a program that determined how cool you were. It asked you lots of questions, and the questions were different depending on how you answered. The questions were like, "Who is cooler, Kurt Cobain, Beavis, or Butthead?" If you answered Beavis you scored very low, because Beavis was a conformist to Butthead. The program actually gained popularity. I noticed people flocking to Amirís desk to play with this program. I noticed that pretty girls in the class manifested a certain attraction to Amir. I did not understand it then. How does nerdiness attract looks? How is a computer programmer attractive? I could not answer that question until fall 1997, during my freshman year of college, when I decided to major in computer science due to the popularity of the internet, and subconsciously I think it was to try to emulate Amir, who became a computer science major the previous year. I realized the attractiveness of computer programming then. I realized the art of it then, the art which makes it beautiful, which makes it attractive. Throughout my three years as a CS major, I always took a certain pride in what I was doing because I was then aware of how attractive of a subject it was. Amir attracted people as a computer scientist because of the way his computer science manifested itself as art. I was inspired, and perhaps the world was inspired, which is why today, doing computer oriented things, like building web sites, or making blogs, or downloading MP3ís, is considered hip, cool, trendy, and beautiful, and related to art. Amir expressed this a few years before the rest of the world figured it out, he was that precocious. I have no doubt that Amir would have beautified computers even more, to a segment of the population that were not experiencing the beauty of computers- elementary school children. In the late 1960ís, Ed Palmer revolutionized the way pre-schoolers learn by being involved in Sesame Street. He noticed how kids watch TV and made the Sesame Street program accordingly. Amir chose the School of Education so he could get a similar opportunity to revolutionize the way in which elementary school children learn.

Now I am going to read a poem that Amir wrote entitled "Reflections on Infinity". I remember when Amir wrote this in Ramaz:

Stuck behind glass walls,
There is no light outside.
Or maybe it's just a hell of a lot
Brighter in here.
So I see me and my reflection,
And over again.
Reflection upon reflection,
Until I am very small,
In repetition, and still shrinking,
Into that oblivion Called 'Infinity'.
Waiting, straining, to see into that verifiable
Everything
Where all is nothing.
Where framed in these portals of eternity,
I am no more.
Until my head gets in the way.

As many of you know who have been to Amir's house, his downstairs bathroom has two opposite mirrors. Thus when you look into the wall, you see yourself reflected to Infinity. The problem is that it is very hard to view this Infinity without your head getting in the way. The glass walls are the mirrors. The fact that there is no light outside means it is inside an indoor room. The "Waiting, straining to see into that verifiable everything" is the attempt to see the reflections ad infinitum. "Where all is nothing" refers to how the reflections get smaller and smaller as they accumulate. I know that in high school, Amir had this obsession with infinity. He told me all about infinity, about Aleph 0, and c, and how c is a greater infinity than Aleph 0. Why was he so obsessed with infinity? Because he wanted to be infinite! He wanted infinite potential. Infinite ability. He felt he had that power within him. And his frustration at being unable to clearly see the infinity was his frustration at being unable to fully actualize infinite potential. He realized he was, in fact, finite. So then what? Did he give up and say, "Because I cannot be infinite, I quit."? No. Amir was modest. He realized he could only be finite, but he tried to fully actualize every cell, every single atom, of his finite being. He aspired to infinity even though he understood his own finitude.

This relates to the very first time I met Amir. This memory is as vivid as the last time I met Amir, which is when I fell asleep in the car, at around 1:30. I was in first grade, in 1982. I was sitting by the side of the Moriah building during the end of recess. Amir and Benjy came over to me and Benjy said, "Amiris, listen to this guy: Tell me what the highest number is." So I replied, "Googol Plex". Benjy said, "No, it is a million." And Amir said, "No. It is a hundred. Nothing is higher than a hundred." And Amir had a puzzling look on his face, as if to imply that the very question itself is problematic. Amir realized at that point when he was six, something that he clarified to me over the next twenty one years: there is simply no such thing as a highest number. Even at this early age, Amirís mind was toying and experimenting with the concept of infinity. Infinity was one of Amirís passions. It is why he capitalized this word in the poem Reflections on Infinity.

Right now, Amir is experiencing infinity without his head getting in the way.


   

 I'm Thinking of You On Your Yartzheit Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Tuesday, April 12 2005 @ 10:58 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Hi Amir,

I was thinking of you today on your yarzheit. At 5:30 p.m. when your unveiling started, the light bulbs in my bathroom went off. At around 8 p.m. when your memorial service started, I suddenly burst into tears and lost my self-control. I knew today would be a hard day for me as indeed it was.

I remember the cemetery where I went to your burial and the shul where I went to your funeral. My heart still breaks for your family who suffers so much from your heart-rending death.

I will never forget you and will pursue my hopes and dreams and passions in your memory. I will strive to be a better Jew and a better person and to make the world a better place and to reach out to others.

The tears continue to flow along with the knowledge that you remain in our hearts and have given me a lot of strength and hope in the past year.

   

 We all miss him Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Dov Greenberg  
 Dated:  Tuesday, April 12 2005 @ 08:36 PM Eastern Daylight Time
Amir Lopatin, who tragically was taken from us one year ago, on March 25, 2004, was a most memorable person. To a great extent, I feel, this was because he embodied so many wonderful contrasts. He was a very ambitious young man with sparkling gentle eyes. He was a bright student of Sciences with a very spiritual mind. For all his vast knowledge and sophistication, he retained a marvelous childlike innocence and curiosity.

More then anything, Amir was a thinker, a seeker who in his last year, was constantly looking toward heaven. He was a large personality, outgoing, entertaining, and original. He was a great conversationalist, and could hold you spellbound for hours with ideas about our planet and its great potential.

He was loved by his family and his many friends. In our home, The Chabad House at Stanford University, he shared his warmth with others and lit the fire of compassion in many hearts. We all miss him.

Over the past year, I have often thought of those moving words, ďTzadikim be-mitatam nikraim chayimĒ: the righteous, even in their death, are called living, because a trace of them remains. The good they do lives after them; their influence leaves a mark on many lives. For Rachel and myself, that is true of Amir Lopatin. May his memory be an inspiration and a blessing.


-Rabbi Dov Greenberg

   

 Ultimate Frisbee Tournament Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Saturday, March 26 2005 @ 12:08 PM Eastern Standard Time
Amir, we are thinking a lot about you today...and will continue thinking about you over the next few days. There will be an Ultimate Frisbee tournament this weekend in your memory. It's called "In the Spirit of the Game" in your honor...to thank
you for being the kind and gentle person we in the ultimate community knew you to be!!

Thanks for all your hard work and dedication.

   

 3/25 Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  JonWolfson  
 Dated:  Friday, March 25 2005 @ 04:10 PM Eastern Standard Time
I went to the NY Auto Show today at the Javits Center. When I was there, I saw an orange Honda Element filled with playful kids climbing around in the back and saying how cool the car was. I felt like getting them the hell out of the car, that is how I felt. I sat in the back seat on the right hand side and it was actually around 2 or 3 PM, and I tried to the best of my ability to change time from 3/25/05 2 PM to 3/25/04 2 PM, but I could not do it.

I only received a single call from my dad telling me how he loves me and is thankful to Hashem for my life, and a single email from my mom saying the same thing in her words. To me, this indicates how far I have come, and once again I now feel guilty that the whole thing is so way behind me but it can never be behind the Lopatins.

3/25 is my own miniature 9/11. I am like a guy who fell off a twin tower and landed on a huge pillow, it is so miraculous that I am here now, and I am fine. But the potency of the knowledge of Amir's death hits me like 9/11.

The interesting thing is, you know how I found out about 9/11? Amir and I lived together on 82nd St. in 2001. I fell asleep on the living room couch watching some DVD on his computer. Amir woke me up at about 9:30 and I heard his voice from his bedroom, "Hey Jon, a plane just crashed into the World Trade Center..."

   

 One Year Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  lizecr  
 Dated:  Friday, March 25 2005 @ 01:00 PM Eastern Standard Time
Amir,
It is hard to believe that you left us one year ago today. This date, March 25, however, does not hold much significance with me. This is not only because we hold the Jewish date of your yahrzeit, or because I didn't find out what happened to you until the next day, March 26, 2004. It is because I think about you every day, and you continue to have an impact on my daily life. You continue to help me through tough situations, because I can imagine what you would say to make them seem better. I think a lot of your friends and family do the same! I am posting this to your website, where those who loved you and admired you continue to share thoughts and stories about you, all of them describing your unique views on life and your sincere interest in other people. I can only hope that you are in a place of ultimate fields free of soccer players, endless tree-lined bike paths, and peace.


   

 Thinking of Amir Again Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  Anonymous  
 Dated:  Sunday, March 20 2005 @ 07:11 AM Eastern Standard Time
I was thinking of Amir again because his English yarzheit is coming up soon on March 25. I saw a story in the Jewish Press about some nice Jewish teenage boys in Israel who were killed in a car accident, and I thought of Amir of course. I was very sad.

Throughout my joys and sorrows in the past year Amir has been with me in my thoughts and hopes and sometimes even in my dreams. I miss him still and always will. My heart still breaks for his mother Sara and for his sister Shoshana and brother Uri and all his friends and family. Their loss is inconsolable and unimagineable.

I had been thinking of Amir because I'm going to a Jewish social action meeting tonight here in New York. I know his spirit will be with me there as we discuss how to tackle the myriad difficult social issues facing our city and what our small Jewish community can contribute toward solving them.

I thought of Amir in a very unexpected context this morning also. I was up surfing the web to do research on the Iraqi democracy struggle and the emerging Lebanese democracy movement. I found many moving young male and female bloggers who were dreaming and acting for freedom in Iraq, Lebanon, Egypt, Bahrain, Kuwait, and Iran.

Then I stumbled across a Saudi blogger who reminded me of Amir. His blog name was Saudi Jeans. He was a 21 year old IT manager named Ahmed. Among one of his many postings was a salute to the Kuwaiti women who were protesting to demand the right to vote and a link to pictures of their protest.

The cultural gap between Jews and Saudi Arabia is about as big as it gets. In Saudi Arabia Jews aren't even allowed to VISIT the kingdom by law. Men and women are not allowed to interact AT ALL. But still you see that many young Arab men and women share the universal human dream of freedom.

Amir always told me that computers were the wave of the future. And he realized much more than I ever did how much computers could improve human life. Now computers are expanding the possibility for human freedom, self-expression, and democracy in the Arab world in ways that I could never have imagined in my wildest dreams.

   

 My Deepest Gratitude Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  TamarPrager  
 Dated:  Wednesday, March 09 2005 @ 09:14 PM Eastern Standard Time
Over the past year, I have developed a powerful love of nature. It took hold days after you were gone.

Because of you Amir, I have a newfound reverence for nature, for people and the world, perspectives, hope, questions...

Because of you walking is magical. Meaning abounds everywhere I look. You enrich my days and have taught me how to live.


   

 Phyllis Berkowitz Email Article To a Friend View Printable Version 
 From:  phyllisberkowitz  
 Dated:  Sunday, March 06 2005 @ 07:30 PM Eastern Standard Time
In march of 2004, shortly before amir's tragic passing, he came for a friday night shabbos dinner to my home, with his mother. During the evening the animated conversation revolved around what he was doing at stanford. He was very excited about his various projects and the people he was working with. I mentioned that i had started a newsletter called THE FAMILY NEWS in 2003. I published this newsletter as a way of keeping my family, who were in california, israel, and new york connected with one another. I said that i e-mailed and sent a hard copy to everyone participating. Amir said, "why don't you get a web site?" I said that i did not know how to do it and he said that he would help me. He said that he would call me after shabbos. As it happened i went out early and missed his call.

Not thinking that he remembered, the next morning i called him. But, true to his word, when i listened to my messages, there was his from saturday night, asking when he could come over to work on the web site. Within 5 minutes he was at my house. He set up a web site, got a domain name and downloaded my previous newsletters on to the site. He was extremely patient with me and very kind as i didn't know some of the basic computer lingo that one with more computer savy would take for granted. He complimented me often and made me feel great. He said that i was a step above his mother(in my computer ability). He had that special twinkle in his beautiful blue eyes and had that way of looking at you shyly, that i will always remember. I, like everyone else he came into contact with during his time with us miss him. May his memory always be a blessing.