Yehuda Gubani of
Bryce Lavalla is a 20 year old man with Down Syndrome who wears hearing aids and canâ€™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 campâ€”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.
â€œLâ€™lo Milim,â€ â€œWithout Wordsâ€ is written in very poetic Hebrew. Yehuda captures how Bryce â€œspeaks to me all the time, with the language of his body, with his eyes, and in other ways.â€ Yehuda writes about how Bryce â€œspeaks to me all the time, tells me of love, and hugs,â€ and about how Bryce connects with people. Yehuda describes how Bryce is truly created â€œBâ€™tzelem Elokim,â€ â€œIn Godâ€™s Image.â€
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 Bryceâ€™s mother!
A few hours later, Bryceâ€™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 â€œpeeked outâ€ 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.