Monday, October 20, 2014

Good Bye Joey

BDE -  Joey Diangello (Formerly Yoeli Deutch)
I got this in an e-mail today. It was forwarded to me and is from Rabbi Ron Yitzchok Eisenman's The Short Vort.

Today is Monday the 26th of Tishrei 5775 and October 20th, 2014

I received the phone call at about 11 AM.

Joey Diangello was no longer among the living and was going to be buried today in the Monsey cemetery.

The details of the burial seemed to be shrouded in mystery and it was unclear what time the burial would take place.

On account of the lack of clarity and to avoid any sort of discomfort for anyone, I did not attend.
I have not seen Joey Diangello since 2010.

I was told that he was born ‘Yoel Deutsch’ into a Hasidic family in Williamsburg.

He apparently attended a Chassidic educational institution in his youth and I can imagine that he must have arrived home on Friday afternoon with a parsha sheet with questions and Torah thoughts eagerly waiting to share them with his parents.

I can imagine he sang songs in Cheder with the Rebbe and the other Jewish children and was no doubt taught that Hashem and His people are kind and beloved.

Perhaps he watched his mother light the Shabbos candles on Friday evening and anticipated a warm and love-filled kiss from her as she turned and wished him a Gutten Shabbos.

And I am sure his father blessed him on Erev Yom Kippur that he should grow to become a Torah scholar and a model Orthodox Jew.

When I met Joey, his arms were covered with tattoos depicting scenes I did not want to stare at.

His fingernails were painted with black nail polish and he was drinking large glasses of non-Kosher wine at a rate which made me wonder how a human being could ingest so much alcohol.

He no longer studied the parsha and no longer received a kiss from his mother on Friday evenings.

Who was Joey Diangello?

Was he a successful businessman?

Was he married and did he settle down and have his own child to raise as he thought proper?

He was not a successful businessman and he never did marry and his friends were not to be counted in the hundreds.

However, he did his best to help others.

Most of all, Joey Diangello was in pain.

When I visited him twice in the hospital over the years, he was in pain.

When I spoke to him in Shul in 2009 he was in pain.

And he was in pain when he left this world.

I had not had any contact with Joey from 2010 until this past summer.

Out of the blue I received the following email from him:

“Good morning. There's a TV show called CSI that I never watch but I do remember on scene maybe 6 years ago. Where a male sees his female colleague is not having a gr8 day.

Whn he asks her about it she goes on. About this and that. at the end of him listening "and not interrupting eveb once". She huggs him says, you always have the perfect thing to say, of which I wanna thank u for saying all the prct things when I nEed it. You just listened and thank u.  

Best, Joey”

He went on to say that he read the Short Vort and was touched by what I wrote.

Needless to say, I was touched by his email and encouraged him to visit.

I was disappointed that when he actually took me up on my offer and on Thursday before Yom Kippur, I missed his visit and he later that day he wrote the following:

I just wanted to pass along my hello from earlier today when I (stopped by outside the Shul)  in Passiac to get my hair done.  Have a gr8 rest of yomtov and easy fast

Best, Joey

I was happy though we had reconnected and he called me soon after to tell me had taken up marathon running and seemed to be finally getting into a ‘good place’.

He even sent me a Rosh Hashanah greeting that when I went back to read today sent shivers up my spine:

I just wanna say "Leshana tovah" to you and your family. May this upcoming year b a suicide death free year is all I ask.  Luv, me.

Best, Joey

Joey Diangello came into this world like me and like you.

He had dreams and he had hopes; he had happiness and joy.

No one ever dreamt that at 34 years old his funeral would be held in a flurry of secrecy and misinformation.

No one imagined that ‘Yoeli Deutsch’ would end up as Joey Diangello being quickly and almost clandestinely buried alone in so many ways so far from the Williamsburg of his youth.

I cannot and will not judge Joey Diangello.

I will not iconize him as much as I would never demonize him.

He was a human being with all of the foibles and strengths which come with the human experience.

There is though one thing I will say about Joey Diangello.

Joey Diangello lived a life a pain.

He suffered through his life and he could never escape the pain which constantly hounded him.

And for that pain and for that agony which defined his life I am sad.

I am sad for the man who will no longer write: 

“May this upcoming year b a suicide death free year is all I ask.  Luv, me.”

And I am sad for Yoeli Deutsch who ceased to exist years ago.

Most of all though; I am sad for us.

For whatever the bloggers will write and whatever the ‘experts’ will say, Joey Diangello did not have to have his life tragically ended at 34.

And for all of us whom he touched and for those of us who attempted to touch him, I cry.

I cry for Yoeli Deutsch who never was and for Joey Diangello who never will be.

And I cry as I wonder what more could have been done and what should be done.

Good bye Joey, I am sorry I missed your visit.