Rabbi suffering from ALS makes cross-country trip for son’s bar mitzvah

(JTA) — A Southern California father of seven suffering from ALS made the cross-country trip to be at his son’s bar mitzvah with family and friends in his hometown of Brooklyn.

Rabbi Yitzi Hurwitz, 47, of West Hollywood, was diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis, also known as Lou Gehrig’s disease, in 2013. He can no longer move, and cannot breathe without the assistance of a ventilator. Hurwitz communicates using a computer with laser-based software that tracks his eye movements to move the cursor.

Hurwitz writes a weekly commentary on the Torah and a blog offering marriage advice.

On Monday, his youngest child, Shalom, 13, read from the Torah in the Brooklyn study of the late Lubavitcher rebbe, Menachem Mendel Schneerson. The family visited the rebbe’s grave on Sunday, the New York Post reported. Hurwitz cried at the grave as he prayed for his wife, his children and for a cure.

The rabbi’s wife, Dina, told the Post that her husband’s illness has helped the couple reach people that they could not reach before.

“There are thousands and thousands of people going through their own hardships, their own sicknesses, their own tragedies, that look to my husband for guidance, for love, for support, for somebody who understands them,” she said. “He knows what’s going on, and he chooses to be happy.’’

A fund has been set up to help the family with medical expenses, including daily care and exploratory treatments, as well as living expenses.