I had the privilege to live with Dave for some time, and to say David was like a brother to me would be false. David WAS a brother to me. He looked after me, ensuring to never include me in whatever mischief he would be up to, and always imparting his words of wisdom to me. Very often, it seemed as though he cared more about others than he did about himself. Having David and my brother together made me feel like no harm could ever come to me. I felt safe knowing no matter what happened they would be there to have back or to listen to my problems. And although I may not have fully appreciated his influence then, I will never forget his enduring commitment to me and my well-being.
In his famous expose in the Huffington Post, Dave said “I know I can do something positive for humanity, especially for those who were robbed of their innocence by child abusers. I can offer hope, counsel and guidance to the still-suffering. I can be a leader with a voice.”
It’s inconceivable that these words came from such a young person who had every excuse to live a destructive life. David found that path contemptible – he needed more. So he got his act together and started to speak, share, write, and most importantly, to love. Slowly but surely, he changed his life and the lives of those around him. There are so many lessons we can all learn from his approach. Namely, that there are no obstacles too difficult or problems too big, there are only those who aren’t willing enough to shed their blood, sweat, and tears to make a difference. We all have our own issues, and we must first conquer them. Once we achieve that, then there are no limits to what we can do.
If you would have told me a few years ago that David would be a world-class soldier, prolific writer, and mentor and friend to unfathomable amounts of people around the world, I would think you were mistaken. But David transcended extensive adversity and became a true leader, so who are we to make excuses for our inaction and lack of greatness? We all have the genuine ability to affect the world around us that is just waiting to be unleashed.
I find myself constantly thinking about what I can do to carry on David’s legacy and honor his life. With the help of one of his closest friends and a personal mentor of mine, we came up with an answer. David’s life culminated in being a voice for those who had none, helping others when it seemed like nobody was there for them. He taught us how to overcome our biggest existential and psychological crises, calling an end to silence. It says in Proverbs that “The mouth of the righteous is a fountain of life, but the mouth of the wicked conceals violence” (Solomon 10:11).
This very idea is exactly how David chose to approach his struggles and become not only a survivor, but a rescuer. I implore everyone to continue this process by reaching out to our brothers and sisters all over the world and to encourage honesty and communication. All it takes is simply listening more to others, being sensitive to people’s concerns, reconsidering our roles in the world, and to stop tolerating the intolerable. If we do this, we all have the ability to save lives and ensure that David will be smiling down on us proudly from Heaven.
On behalf of my family, I would like to thank everyone who has ever been there for David–Most recently the Ungar and Rome families, the Lone Soldiers Program, and Givati who provided him with homes away from home, here in Israel.