Chabad House honors Yudkowsky at memorial

Diana Scholl

Friends of Yehuda Yudkowsky remembered his sensitivity, keen sense of humor, musical talent and his love of Judaism at a memorial service Monday evening at the Tannenbaum Chabad House.

Yudkowsky, a McCormick sophomore, died Nov. 1. He touched the lives of many people at Northwestern, particularly those involved with the Jewish community, service attendees said.

“Yehuda was proudly and wackily Jewish,” Elisheva Su, a friend of Yudkowsky’s, said at the memorial service.

Su, a chemistry graduate student, recalled that Yudkowsky hosted a Shabbat dinner in his apartment this quarter. Although a Shabbat dinner usually is an elaborate meal, Yudkowsky decided that “he wanted a hot-dog-only dinner.”

“I don’t know anyone who got such a kick out of his own jokes (as much as he did)” said Su, noting that Yudkowsky decided they would have more hot-dog-only Shabbats in the future.

That same evening the group sang many songs and Yudkowsky always would sing along in tune — even if he didn’t know the words.

“Yehuda hummed along to provide back-up, he joined in because he wanted to help people enjoy the song more,” Su said. “It was this quiet simplicity to fellow man that made Yehuda so special.”

Yudkowsky’s friends and family honored his life by sharing memories of him and reading traditional Jewish prayers.

Yudkowsky was involved in many activities on campus, friends said.

Rabbi Dov Hillel Klein, director of the Chabad House, said after studying at a seminary in Israel last year, Yudkowsky got “right back into the swing of things” when he returned to campus in the fall.

The swing of things for Yudkowsky included serving as academic chairman of the Chabad House, playing the hammered dulcimer — a xylophone-like instrument — for the WildKatz Klezmer Band and representing the Chabad House in the NU Council of Religions.

“Yehuda was extremely precious to Chabad and the Northwestern community,” Klein said. “Yehuda understood the meaning of life, friendship and caring for others.”

Klein remembered Yudkowsky’s quick wit and said whenever he gave a speech, Yudkowsky would be the first one to challenge him.

“We say if you have two Jews, you have three opinions. Well, Yehuda was the fourth opinion,” Klein told The Daily after the memorial. “He kept us all on our toes.”

Raysh Weiss, a Daily cartoonist and one of Yudkowsky’s bandmates in the WildKatz, said that Yudkowsky’s presence in the band will be irreplaceable.

“(He) was the glue that binded the group, both musically and socially,” Weiss said.

Adam Arents, another member of the band, agreed that Yudkowsky brought musical talent and life to the group.

“I just remember him being really dedicated, working hard to make us all work together and make us all laugh,” Arents, a Weinberg junior, told The Daily after the memorial.

After the service, Yudkowsky’s father Moshe Yudkowsky told The Daily that he appreciates the outpouring of support that NU has shown for his son.

“We want to thank the Northwestern community for their kind words,” Moshe Yudkowsky said.

Those who attended the service felt a kinship with Yehuda Yudkowsky even if they didn’t know him well, Communication freshman Matan Ring said.

“Each one of us in the room considers Yehuda a friend,” Ring said.

Reach Diana Scholl at [email protected].