“And can it be that in a world so full and busy, the loss of one soul makes a void in any heart, so wide and deep that nothing but the width and depth of fast eternity can fill it up…” (Charles Dickens)
Ari’s blue eyes were as deep as the ocean–windows to a soul of an extraordinary human being. A soul who feared nothing but the Almighty, whose humility was an inspiration, whose days and nights were testimony to the heights of human endeavor and aspiration.
A soul hand-picked by the Lubavitcher Rebbe and the Rebbe’s wife, to serve as their surrogate child from earliest infancy, to be surrounded by their holiness and kindness and universal love. A gem of a human being who combined the rigors of Chassidic life with its long days of study, with a grace on the basketball court that was star quality. A mere child who would jump at the opportunity–and they were numerous–to relinquish his own bed to a tired guest.
A prince of a boy who was generous to a fault with his time–always ready to listen to a troubled friend. But above all he loved his family, especially his sisters and brothers. Ari shared a special bond with the Lubavitcher Rebbe and his wife. At three years old, he sat on the Rebbe’s lap as the Rebbe taught him the first letters of the aleph-bet . As a child, the Rebbe kissed his forehead in the exact spot that the bullet entered so many years later.
Ari’s father worked as a butler and personal manager in the grand Rabbi’s household for many years until Rabbi Schneerson’s wife, Chaya, died in 1988. Mrs. Schneerson was particularly close to Ari, and was known to treat him as the grandson she never had. The Halberstams are members of a well-known rabbinical dynasty that began 140 years ago. The Bobover Rebbe who led a Hasidic sect in Borough Park, is Rabbi Shlomo Halberstam, part of the youth’s extended family, and several prominent Lubavitch leaders, including Rabbi J.J. Hecht, are his mother’s cousins.
The holy Rabbi Aharon Yosef Luria (far right),
Aris great grandfather, who Ari is named for.
Pictured from left to right: Rabbi Mendel Veg, Rabbi Yoel Ashkenazi, Rabbi Matizyahu Luria, Rabbi Aharon Yosef Luria