I never met Daniel. Yet on this day in particular, I miss him terribly.
Daniel died at the age of 16.
He died on Mother’s Day in 2006, 29 days after being mortally wounded by a suicide bomber sent by cowardly terrorists to a Tel Aviv restaurant where Daniel and his father, Tuly, had gone for lunch during a Passover holiday visit to Israel.
I learned about the attack from an e-mail I received hours afterwards from the father of a youngster I’d coached at the Weston YMCA asking me and others to pray for Daniel.
For 29 days, I prayed and prayed. Thousands more prayed for Daniel too. People like me who’d never met him or his family, but knew that he could have been any one of our sons. In those 29 days, he became a son to all of us.
In fact, I had also wanted to take my sons on a family trip to Israel that Passover. I was angry and sad because their mother hadn’t wanted them to go and we didn’t.
I first met Daniel at the funeral that took place for him when his body returned with his parents, sister and grandparents for the somber service at our community’s Chabad synagogue, where he had been a passionate member eagerly embracing Torah and taking to heart daily the challenges of performing good deeds.
I cried for Daniel and his family that day. Actually, I cried over Daniel’s death for many months after and again today, as I awoke to a new day with my newborn son still sleeping safely and peacefully beside me knowing that today would have been Daniel Wultz’s 19th birthday.
Since Daniel’s death, his parents have worked tirelessly to establish and nurture the Daniel Cantor Wultz Foundation in his memory with the mission of helping create a world in which other parents do not have to mourn the senseless, tragic loss of their sons and daughters from the acts of fanatics.
Each day, I think about the Albert Einstein quote that is featured prominently on the website’s homepage:
“The world is a dangerous place; not because of those who do evil, but because of those who look on and do nothing…“
Like me, they’ve also brought a new son into the world, who I know brings light and love to their lives each moment.
Daniel and his parents have forever touched my life far beyond what I could explain in words. From the moment I began holding him in my prayers, I’ve regularly felt his presence in my life.
These past three years, each time I’ve hugged my own sons, I’ve held on just a little longer. Each time we’ve parted from each other, I’ve been sure to let them know how much I love them. Each time I’ve seen an opportunity to do a good deed, I’ve done my best to do so knowing that it’s up to me — to all of us — to continue transforming the world as Daniel did on so many days of his life.
I hope on this day and many others people all over the world will continue saying a prayer for Daniel and doing good deeds in his memory.
And I pray that we will all hold our children a little closer, love them and each other even more, and actively work to create a world safe for all of our children as we embrace the gift of life for each of the precious moments we are given.
You can learn more about the Daniel Cantor Wultz Foundation online at http://www.dcwfoundation.org.