BBYO Mentor Mitch Liebeskind Passes Away at 35

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Jewish communities in Howard  and Montgomery Counties as well as Baltimore City felt a great loss earlier this month as Mitch Liebeskind, a BBYO  professional, Columbia native  and lifetime member of Laurel’s  Oseh Shalom BBYO #5261, died unexpectedly at age 35.

Liebeskind’s death on May 1 came days before the planned date of his wedding on May 5.


Liebeskind’s mother, Diane Liebeskind, spoke briefly with  the JT on May 11. When asked why her son was drawn to work with BBYO programs she replied, “He had a kind, loving soul. He was funny and warm and loving, just very kind.”

Diane, still feeling devastated by the loss, described the past week as “an unbelievable time” and “the worst week of my life.”

The cause of death was not public as of press time.

Lauren Golfer, a lifelong friend of Liebskind’s, felt similarly devastated. The two met in Hebrew school and  attended Oseh Shalom BBYO together. Golfer was to be a  grooms-person in Liebeskind’s  wedding. “It was just an unspeakable  loss at a horrible time,” she said. “A whole group of us were excited to come into town for a wedding and all of  a sudden we’re going to a  funeral. I think most people are still in shock, because it’s so unimaginable.”

Part of Liebskind’s impassioned work with his BBYO chapter included chaperoning several international trips for the March of the Living, an annual educational program that brought individuals from around the world to Poland and Israel to study the history of the Holocaust.

“I don’t think I could go on one March of the Living as a chaperone or as a participant. Mitch did it three or four times,” said Jason Budman, a Gaithersburg native and  friend of Liebeskind’s for close to two decades.

Budman went on to describe  how exceptional Liebeskind’s commitment to his BBYO was, especially as a young man.

“It takes a certain kind of guy. I’ve always wanted to be an advisor and staff these programs that Mitch would do, but honestly I was just in my early 20s,” said Budman, noting that at that age he was more interested in playing in bands, and working late into the evenings. “But for Mitch, even in his early 20s that was his thing. He gave his time to the kids. It’s an interesting  quality for a man to have at that early age, to be very  selfless in that regard.”

A common sentiment amongst those who knew Mitch is that his positivity  rarely floundered: he was  always smiling and had a  genuine passion for connecting with his fellows.

“One of the things that was amazing about Mitch was his ability to connect people,” said longtime friend Joshua  Schuman. “The amount of people he had a positive impact on was astounding.”

Schuman, who lives in Gaithersburg, said his personal connections with Liebeskind  revolved around sports, politics  and spicy Asian food, but that he could make enthused connections with people around an array of topics including, but not limited to, fashion, sneakers, pastries or hip-hop music.

The proof of the magnitude  with which Liebeskind made connections was most evident  at his funeral service and shiva.

“I have never seen a funeral  with the amount of people  as were at this one,” said Schuman. “The shiva had to be at the JCC because no one had a house that could hold this many people.”

As heart-wrenching as his funeral service was, Golfer believes the amount of people in attendance was a fitting tribute to Liebskind.

“He brought people together in his life,” said Golfer, “and in his death he’s still bringing people together.”

The website for International  BBYO has created a webpage for community members to  make a donation in Liebeskind’s  name.

The page reads in part, “Mitch was compassionate, loyal and a constant source of energy, fun and laughter. … Mitch deeply believed in  what BBYO could do for  Jewish teens because BBYO had shaped who he became as an adult.”

To make a donation in  Liebeskind’s memory, visit  rememberingmitch.bbyo.org.

cgraham@midatlanticmedia.com

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1 COMMENT

  1. I’m so sorry to hear the loss of your son how devastating you all must be
    Prayers for you and your family at this difficult time !!
    It’s hard to understand why things like this happens .
    I believe in God and have faith I know he’s been with me over the past year!

    No parent should ever have to go through this I would imagine that this is one of the hardest things to deal with!!
    God bless you all and your family

    Sincerely .
    Terry Mauck-Beck

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