Photo Credit: Jewish Press

The South Florida community is reeling from the shocking death of beloved Miami Marlins superstar pitcher Jose Fernandez.

Fernandez, who was born in Cuba, finally made it to the shores of South Florida when he was 15. He and his mother had previously endured three failed attempts to escape from the oppressive communist regime.

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During the dangerous crossing, someone on the boat fell in the water. The teenager didn’t hesitate. He jumped overboard to help his compatriot. Incredibly, it turned out the near-drowning victim was his own mother. He saved her life.

The boy grew up and became a talented and famous Florida baseball player. It wasn’t just the sports community that admired Fernandez. He was an amazing athlete, but beyond that he was thought of as a positive role model, especially among the exile community.

Fernandez was 24 when he died. He and two close friends were killed in a terrible boating accident in the waters off Miami Beach. Jose Fernandez had a future. He had plans. How could this have happened?

We have all heard the Yiddish proverb, “A mensh tracht un gut luft” – man plans and God laughs. Apparently, man is not always the final arbiter. Life is actually quite tenuous. Sometimes an unexpected calamity really gets our attention. People of every religion, ethnicity, and background have been moved by this tragedy.

The recent Rosh Hashanah holiday and the upcoming day of Yom Kippur are reflective of the fragility of human existence. It’s easy to get used to operating on autopilot mode. The “high holidays” create a reality check.

“…How many will pass from the earth and how many will be created; who will live and who will die; who will die at his predestined time and who before his time; who by water and who by fire…” These heavy words are part of the liturgy at this solemn time. We are urged to be introspective and examine our lives. Hopefully, this process will act as a catalyst to entering the year with a positive, new, and good start.

Gmar Chatimah Tovah. May you be entered in the book of life and only for good. Shanah Tovah – a happy, healthy, and sweet new year.

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