Published in Chabad of Georgia; Spring 1999. Copyright© 1998. All rights reserved. The following writing may not be republished or redistributed, in whole or in part, in any way including electronically, without the prior written consent of the author.

Hey YY.....We Miss You!

by jane davis

December, 1998


It was Wednesday night. December 2. 6 PM. i had just turned on the computer, clicked my "get mail" button and there it was. An announcement from Chabad cyberspace, "A notice to all our subscribers" and i knew, i feared that this was it. This was the announcement i did not want to hear.

And so i ignored it. i looked at all the other mail while that one quietly called out to me, "you must read"

"It is with tremendous pain and sorrow that we must inform you of the passing ......." the rest of the words were lost behind the tears that automatically flooded my eyes. NOOOOOO every fiber of my being screamed out. NOOOOOO. Not Yosef Y. Kazen, known to many as simply "YY".

The entire world, Jew and Gentile alike, lost a leader, a Rabbi, a true teacher. A jewel lived among us lighting up souls around the world. When a visionary is so close it is often hard for people to acknowledge or fully understand the great works being done. Such was the case with Rabbi Yosef Yitzchak son of Rabbi Shlomo Shneur Zalman Kazen and Rebbetzin Shula Shula Kazen.

The world of cyberspace and computers is still an enigma to many. Since human nature fears what it doesn't know as well as resists change, it is only natural that many within the Lubavitch community did not understand the depth to which this great man, this tzadek was connecting with and teaching the world at large.

i first "met" Yosef Kazen, with great reluctance almost four years ago. i had, as media, witnessed an electric chair execution in Georgia. my entire being was so rattled by this experience that i was in deep, deep need of spiritual connection with a Rabbi, a person who i associated with "loving, caring, compassionate, available." Much to my dismay, after banging on doors, i was unable to find a Rabbi who had the kind of time that i needed. i had questions upon questions since i had witnessed something so evil and was aware that among the masses the "Old Testament" (in other words "Jews") was responsible for this atrocity. Somewhere within my n'shama, i just "knew" that our Torah had other teachings/meanings. i wanted to believe we were a loving people. But, trying to find a Rabbi with time is like trying to find an observant Jew in McDonalds.

Since i was a user of cyberspace a friend suggested i send my questions to the Chabad Cyber site. At this point i was reluctant. i didn't think i could handle another rejection from a Rabbi, a spirit leader. i had too much to delve into. i was fully prepared to forget the whole thing from a Jewish perspective.

However, something inside me didn't allow that to happen. That inner voice, that Jewish soul, took over. i emailed some questions to this nebulous "group" and got a response that led to more questions and more questions and a daily sharing with a man so wise that i, and whoever else was so fortunate to know him, was merely blessed.

That "group" turned out to be Rabbi Yosef Kazen. From those initial questions developed a friendship that i can only say is one i dreamed of having with a Rabbi. It reminded me of when i was a little girl and would hear stories of the Rabbis of Chelm. Wisdom. Compassion. Time.

He was a boundless ball of energy. He was Judaism in action. His purity came from that. That is what he was from the inside out. He loved teaching Torah. Not just in words, in action to both Jews and Gentiles. He answered questions without judgment. He knew his purpose on earth. "Is it kosher for me to get high (smoke marijuana) on Shabbos?" one subscriber asked him.

"I never heard of the Noahide Laws," a monk in a distant Monastary exclaimed, and Yosef helped teach even the remotest of places connected today thru the internet.

He knew. Yosef Kazen was touching lives around the world as remote as Antarctica. He was lighting up souls. Educating. Loving every minute of it. Souls were lit up throughout the world via contact with him in his cyber world. His congregation knew no bounds. He was available 24 hours a day. He never said "I'm too busy" despite the fact that he was a committed husband and father. i am eternally grateful to his family for giving him the support needed for him to be an individual light unto nations and helping others in their paths.

i was one of the lucky ones from cyberspace to have met "Kazen", as i fondly called him. It was like meeting the Wizard of Oz. He had phoned me from the hospital trying to say that he was "OK." i was on the next plane to NY.

He was asleep when i entered his room in intensive care so i sat in a chair at the foot of his bed and watched him. my Rabbi. my friend. There was a beautiful peace to this man hooked up to all kinds of machines and tubes. A white and blue towel was draped over his head, his yarmulke peeping out from underneath. When he opened his eyes half an hour later he didn't move. He squinted. He smiled. He said, "Are you who I think you are?"

"Yes." i beamed. "Are you Kazen?!"

What a way to meet. And we picked up conversation as if we were typing in cyberspace or speaking on the phone both of which we did almost daily for years. "You are very wise to have come here, " he said. "you never would have gotten this kind of time with me!" and we laughed. i spent four glorious days in silence and in conversation, questions asked, questions answered, Torah taught as well as just two unlikely friends sharing some painful moments.

"You can't die!!!" i told him, "we have too much work to do!"

Although he didn't think his time was up, he was also so ready if that was God's will for him.

On December 1, 1998, 2 PM, surrounded by some of his loving sisters, God took this magical man back and left so many with the resounding question death imparts....... "WHY?"

His legacy must be that his work live on. i know it will live on thru me because we had become a team in learning, educating, and sharing. From one lone voice out here - from one woman not part of your community - i beg you all to search your souls. Who among you is as dedicated to the ideals of walking the walk as Yosef Kazen did? His work must go on. He had the vision. He established the groundwork. Now, he sits somewhere else and watches.

Please, do not let this great mans' work fall by the wayside. He was lighting up the world!!! Give your time. Give your dollars. Give your support.

YY, wherever you are, thank you from the bottom of my heart and soul for all you did simply by being you and sharing your strength, wisdom and love of mankind and Torah.

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