TEMECULA: Rabbi battling ALS honored in somber, heartfelt ceremony

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 SEPTEMBER 24, 2013 BY AARON CLAVERIE

Rabbi Yitzchok Hurwitz, executive director of the Chabad Jewish Center in Temecula, was honored on Tuesday night by the City Council, which proclaimed Sept. 24 as Rabbi Hurwitz Day.

Hurwitz, who moved to the area with his wife Dina in the late 1990?s, was diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis, or Lou Gehrig’s disease, in February.

“We admire Rabbi Hurwitz for his willingness to share with the community his courageous fight against ALS, and as a City Council, we thank him for his service and pledge our support to stand by him, as he fights this life-threatening disease,” states the city’s proclamation.

Two weeks ago, the Hurwitzes appeared at the start of the council’s regular meeting to provide the invocation and Dina announced the arrival of a new rabbi, Rabbi Sholom Katz, who is helping out at the chabad in the capacity of co-program director.

At that same meeting, Mayor Mike Naggar told the audience about Hurwitz’s fight against ALS, a disease that affects nerve cells in the brain and the spinal cord, and told him to come back in two weeks.

On Tuesday, the Hurwitzes appeared as directed, bringing along their seven children, ages 16 through 7, and they thanked the city for the honor.

“We are not done doing for the community,” Dina Hurwitz said.

Naggar, tears in his eyes, said the city is replete with stories of people who have been positively affected by the “good rabbi” and he asked anyone in the audience who wanted to speak to step to the podium in the center of the council’s chambers.

A tall young man who said he used to live by the rabbi was one of the first to approach and he said he had great memories of backyard conversations.

The rabbi, who didn’t say anything during the ceremony, made a symbol with his hand in what appeared to be a message to the young man, telling him that he remembered him when he was much smaller.

Others provided funny stories of the rabbi’s time in Temecula — the menorahs that grew larger each year during the city’s holiday season — and wished him well in his battle.

“We know this disease he is fighting, he will overcome it,” said Dan Phillips, who identified himself as a member of the chabad.

On the chabad’s website, there’s a link to a site where donations are being accepted to help keep afloat the community the Hurwitzes helped form in the Temecula Valley.

By giving and encouraging your friends to give, only one dollar a day, we can keep our doors open and continue to grow as we have been.

This community is the heart and soul of our Rabbi, as he is the heart and soul of our community.

In 2011, the chabad moved from the Hurwitzes’ home into a shopping center on Nicole Lane. At the time, the Hurwitzes said they hoped the move would allow the chabad to grow and flourish.

 

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