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Bryce and Yehuda
August 19, 2010 by Howardb

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Yehuda Gubani of Beit Shemesh,Israel was just honored for 25 years of service to CampRamah in New England.  Yehuda is a gifted teacher who brings his love of Israel, Hebrew language and Yemenite culture to Ramah campers and staff. 

Bryce Lavalla is a 20 year old man with Down Syndrome who wears hearing aids and can’t speak with words. Bryce also loves Tikvah davening and works each day as a member of the Ramah boating staff. 

Yehuda has a gift for connecting with everyone at camp—from students in his Hebrew classes, to the Eastern European kitchen workers (he also teaches them Hebrew!) to campers in the Tikvah Program.    

On the last day of camp, I learned that the very modest, Yehuda had written a beautiful tribute in the mishlochot (Israeli delegation) end of year newspaper to Bryce. Yehuda described their very special friendship.

“L’lo Milim,” “Without Words” is written in very poetic Hebrew.  Yehuda captures how Bryce “speaks to me all the time, with the language of his body, with his eyes, and in other ways.”  Yehuda writes about how Bryce “speaks to me all the time, tells me of love, and hugs,” and about how Bryce connects with people.  Yehuda describes how Bryce is truly created “B’tzelem Elokim,” “In God’s Image.”

I was delighted when Yehuda offered to read his poem to me, translating his sophisticated piece, line by line.  How I wished I could share it with Bryce’s mother!

A few hours later, Bryce’s mom, Terry, came to pick him up Bryce.  Just as I was telling her about Yehuda, his relationship with Bryce and his poem, as if by magic, Yehuda “peeked out” of his house.  I tried unsuccessfully to shout to Yehuda.  I tried again.  Finally, he heard me and  shyly came over to speak with Terry and me.  Yehuda read and translated the poem (see the photo, above).  Terry was truly moved by this very special man, and his love for her son who proves that one can truly communicate without speaking.