By Boruch Ber Bender
There are times in life when one needs to pause and reflect for just a few moments to recognize something dramatic. Something extraordinary. Something heartbreaking.
The loss of Yanky (Jack) Meyer, the indefatigable leader of the Misaskim organization, is all of those things. It is simply a heartbreaking and shocking loss for the Jewish community at large and so many others. Mere words can’t do justice, yet not writing at all just doesn’t seem right.
I was blessed and thankful to have had both a personal and professional relationship with this amazing soul. I was thankful to look up to him, to learn from him, and to be inspired by him. Yanky didn’t just care. He didn’t just do chesed. He didn’t just run Misaskim. Yanky really cared. He cared deeply for anyone who crossed into his orbit—and then he cared some more. Yanky’s mission was to ease the pain and suffering of those who had lost loved ones. From the moment their tragedy took place until sometimes years later, these orphans, widows, widowers, and broken people became his family. They became his mission and his focus.
Jack called me at all hours: Shabbos and weekday, 2 p.m. and 3 a.m. He was a man on a mission, and nothing and nobody would get in his way until he achieved the desired results—results that were always singular in focus: Bringing compassion, comfort, and love to those who were suffering through the most unbearable of times. After a recent situation in which we worked together to help a family through a particular crisis (which started with a 3 a.m. call in which Jack said, “BB, wake up.”), I turned to Jack and said, “You’re officially a GSD.”
In his imitable and special way, he huffed back, “BB, I don’t understand your Five Towns fancy words.”
I smiled and said, “Jack, it simply means you Get Stuff Done.”
He replied, “OK, BB, you know I don’t like gifts, but that one I can take.”
One would think that in my daily life of running Achiezer Community Resource Center I would be accustomed to or even hardened by dealing with death, tragedy, or other horrible crises. Yes it is true that crises of all forms are what consume our daily lives at Achiezer Community Resource Center, and moving past it sometimes is the only way to survive; but, with Jack’s untimely passing, I made myself a promise that this moment—this horribly difficult moment—must not be left in vain. When we see someone suffering, we need to speak up and use our voice to show that we care. When someone is struggling through a difficult time, we can’t pretend not to see or look the other way. We must not feel or assume that anyone’s crisis or particular struggle is insurmountable. We must pause, breathe, and think: “What would Jack do?”
We know one thing he would never, ever do. Jack would never give up—on anyone or anything.
May his memory be a blessing for his wife, children, grandchildren, and all who knew and loved him.