Watch: A documentary produced by filmmaker Andrew Leibman, filmed during the long months that Yudi Dukes was hospitalized, shows Yudi’s incredible strength, fortitude, even when faced with the biggest challenges.
By Mrs. Sara Dukes
Yudi taught us so much. He taught us you can push through boundaries. To persevere and not take “no” for an answer. He taught us how every single prayer, good deed, kind word, and positive thought makes a difference and changes reality. He taught us that no matter what personal hell we are going through, we still have control over our mind and thoughts. He taught us to focus on what we DO have, even when there is so much that we don’t have. He taught us that we are limitless in what we can do, and that we can create miracles.
I feel sad that many of you only know Yudi in this physical state. In a condition that was so critical for such an extended amount of time, it affected his physical attributes in significant ways. How you see him in this documentary and over the past couple of months is not his typical healthy, strong appearance. You saw him as weak, fragile, body taken over by illness and the severe complications that came along with it. And yet you STILL continued to love him. To value him. To respect and appreciate him. You were able to look past his physical differences and see only beauty and love, and the purity that was within him.
This is pure, baseless, unconditional love.
And this is exactly what we learn in Tanya. We all may look different or act differently on the outside, but inside, there is a beautiful, strong, G-dly soul that can never be touched or tarnished. This is our essence. This is our core. And it is in each and every one of us.
We need to look beyond the physicalities and value each other because of our existence alone- because we have a part of G-d within us. We need to work harder at being sensitive and respecting one another because everyone is going through some sort of hell (which most of us will NEVER know about) and are doing the best they can to get through it with with the tools they have, and ultimately, everyone wants to feel loved and valued and know they are making a difference in this world.
Thank you for showing that this can be actualized and achievable. Thank you for loving Yudi. For valuing him. For respecting and appreciating him- As a person. As a soul.
What you see in this documentary is a tiny glimpse of who he was. If you feel inspired or uplifted, use this energy to create more good. Pick a new good deed, a new mitzvah you will do in Yudi’s merit, and help him continue making the world more beautiful.
Yudi said in one of his zoom farbrengens, “It’s important to take action. Of course you can be inspired by someone, but when you actually apply it to your life and say, ‘I’m going to use this tactic for this situation’, it makes it real, and is a way that you can actually see how you are controlling your life and can make your life better in a real way.”Whether it is committing to donning tefillin on his behalf, putting a coin in a charity box daily, starting a new Torah learning partner (chavrusa4yudi.com), lighting shabbat candles, saying a daily prayer, writing a thank you letter once a week to those who have had a huge impact on your life, apologizing to someone you hurt, accepting the apology from those who hurt you, or turning off your phone during certain hours so you can focus on your family, any new action you choose implement in your life is significant. Because everything adds up. And everything makes a difference.
May we learn from Yudi’s strength, faith, and fortitude and have the courage to implement them into our own lives and struggles, and may we all see, feel, and tap into the tremendous G-dly power we hold- from our existence alone.
We love you, Yudi. We will continue changing the world for you and with you.
VIDEO: Chazak – the Story of Yudi Dukes
At the shloshim, a new initiative was launched to honor Yudi’s legacy. To continue the mission that Yudi dedicated his life to, Chavrusa4Yudi aims to ‘raise’ 1,800 new chavrusas in his memory.
Here’s how you can get involved:
- Take a moment, scroll through your contact list or just think about those in your circle of influence who could benefit from such a meaningful burst of yiddishkeit and Torah study in their lives.
- Send them a message or give them a call explaining the meaningful opportunity that is at hand. “I know just how much you love to explore interesting topics in Judaism. This project made me think of you.”
- Join the campaign yourself or get a friend on board and begin the journey at Chavrusa4Yudi.com.
Whatever you choose to take on, the point is we do this together. Together, we can make a real positive impact in our fellow Jews’ lives―for identity, family, continuity, and for the dream a young man worked so hard to achieve.
All it takes is a minute to reach out.
We know this mission, like his soul, lives on. Today, you have the power to make it bigger and bolder than ever.