Sometimes we know people who seem to be like a living example of a sefer. Yosef Chaim Paley, OBM, was a walking sefer on Ahavas Yisroel. He had a smile that would like up a room and a gentle, friendly personality that made him so pleasant to be around. Yossi was the child who loved everyone and whom everyone loved back. He was the kid who went over to the new child with a smile to make them feel welcome. Yossi always made sure that no one was excluded at recess.
On Chai Elul, 5757, nine year old Yossi was diagnosed with leukemia. It shocked the entire Richmond, VA community. Many times they joined together to say tehillim for this special child. Yossi was able to unite together many people, stripping away the labels that separate people into “us” and “them”. Yossi didn’t follow the normal protocol for leukemia treatment, and was sent to transplant just four months after diagnosis. At two years post transplant, Yossi was considered cured. Nine months later, Yossi suffered a relapse. Once again chemo failed to cure him, so he went to Minnesota for a second transplant. Tragically, the day after Shushan Purim 5761, Yosef Chaim haLevi (z’l) returned his pure and holy neshama back to its source. Yossi was just six weeks shy of his bar mitzvah.
When Yossi was first diagnosed, his family used to update people via his web page “blog”. Through his web page, Yossi’s story has touched people, and years later, it continues to. Here is a sampling from some of the notes the family received from both Jews and non-Jews, religious and not yet religious, all walks of life:
“… His warmth and genuine kindness were an inspiration for all and will be treasured and remembered forever …”
“When we think of Yossi’s personality, what immediately comes to mind is his smile. It was really something beautiful to see. And so many saw it, because he used it so often!”
“… If it wasn’t for your inspiration, and request for mitzvah doing on behalf of Yossi’s merit, we would not be doing some of the mitzvahs that we now now do. These mitzvahs are now ritual, and will always be connected to your son …”
“… He has so much affect on so many people, and will change so many lives. Mine included. His life, though short, had more meaning than 100 of my lives…”
“… Yossi was a miracle … a breathe of greatness that you see so rarely in life…”
“You have changed the world by all the charity and kindness, all of the prayers on Yossi Chaim’s behalf…”
“I still remember what a pleasure Yossi was. He would always greet me with a big smile on his face. … His infectious enthusiasm and joyful nature was only the tip of a big, beautiful, giving, and gentle spirit…”
“Yossi was an extraordinary person. I think he was an example of goodness to all who knew him. G-d appointed Yossi to be a messenger of one-ness.”
This year will mark his 16th yartzeit. The family is launching a campaign to buy a sefer Torah l’iluey nishmas Yosef Chaim haLevi (z’l) ben Michoel Dovid haLevi (ybl”c). The sofer the family commissioned is a childhood friend of Yossi’s. What makes this so poignant is the fact he never got called up to the Torah. The Torah is going to be given to the Yeshiva of Virginia. The family is asking for donations to help complete this campaign. To view his story and make donations, please visit his website http://www.inmemoryofyossi.com/sefertorah or send via paypal to firstname.lastname@example.org. All donations are tax deductible.