This past Shabbat, the world lost a giant. I never thought this would happen. Our hearts are bleeding with pain after hearing of the loss of a first class Mentch with a heart of gold, someone who took great pleasure in helping others, someone who stood by his values and never caved to pressure even one iota.

Joel Taller.

I first got to know Joel when I called him to see if he would consider supporting our Chabad activities on campus. My wife, Yocheved and I went to the meeting, after we gave our presentation, Joel then said, “sure , so how much do you want?” We told him the amount and he willingly agreed to help. He then told us of someone in the community who was in need of a job, in the US, and  asked if we could help find  a job. I then asked Joel if we could start a weekly Torah class together, he agreed. 

After we left the office, we used our contacts to help this individual secure a job. When we informed Joel, he was extremely thankful and grateful, it was as if we did him a personal favour.

Joel LOVED doing people favours. As part of our work at Chabad on campus, we sent students on trips to Shabbatons and learning experiences. It  was so often that I would call Joel and tell him that I have 4-5 students that want to go to Florida, or to NY or California.  I said, “We can pay the tax, can you just sponsor the miles. Joel would say , “Send me the names and dates”. Usually within the hour, I got a confirmation with all the tickets booked. As for the taxes, he would never accept the money.

Once, at our weekly Torah classes in Gowlings, he told me that a local organization  just called and asked for support. He turned to me and asked me “ how much should I give?”  I don’t know what got into me, but I had the Chuptza to say “$2000.00”. “ no problem”  was his reply and immediately wrote out a cheque  for that amount and asked me to hand deliver it.  On the way out he told me “ Tell them no need to call me or thank me”.

Gaye and Joel once traveled to   South America, on their way they stopped by several  Shuls, After they got back, he asked me to help him get in touch with each of the Shuls  so that he can contribute to all of them.

There was someone who was going though a bit of  hard patch. Joel heard that this person was travelling , he asked me to call the hotels in advance and pay for his rooms, so that by checkout, the person would be told “ Your rooms are paid for,” thus bringing some relief to this persons pain, knowing that someone cared for him.

Joe Osterer Z”L would always tell me that Taller, is with a capital T, for Tzedaka and Boy did Joel live up to that.

The highlight of my week was learning with  Joel. He was a very successful lawyer, yet took time every week to learn. His enthusiasm and love for Yiddiskeit was so inspiring. He really listened and remembered everything.   We would get into discussions and debates, and it was truly so enjoyable for me. I remember once, I prepared a class, and he turned to me , and said “ I think we did this 2 years ago”.

He made everyone around him  feel so good about themselves.

He lived with a very strong moral compass.

He would often tell me, that he always leaves the office no later than 2 PM on Friday, and would explain, “ Just in case one day , there is a Shomer Shabbat Jew that wants to work in the firm, they would not be able to say, look at Joel, he is Jewish, and he stays late on Friday, so can you”.

If something  was right, Joel would never bend from it, strong as iron, yet if some one was in need , he would go to great lengths and take off work to do whatever it took to help them.

He loved his family beyond words. He enjoyed so much spending time with them. I would often invite him for Shabbat, and he would respond That’s my family time “.

He always sat in the back row at Machzikei Hadas, not only never wanted honor, but truly despised it.

Joel, thank you for serving on our advisory board. You put in so many hours into helping us, I don’t know how to thank you.

Last Friday when I brought you challa in the hospital, you turned to me with the bit of energy you had left and said, “ You are such a good friend”  But no, Joel, its you who is the good friend,  I am In so much pain that I can not call you and speak to you. You fought this disease, like a real Taller, with might , and courage.

We yearn for Moshiach, when we will see you again, and I promise that you will be in front of the parade, I know you are going to try to run to back, but this time even, if you insist, we are not going to let you. I know you are going to give me to a hard time for writing this , but I am sure you will get over it.

Thank you for being such a true model, thanks for being such a special friend, thank you, thank you, thank you!