Grateful for Every Minute: In Memory of Josh Carr
Josh Carr, who passed away last week at the age of 23, inspired thousands of people – including myself – through his WhatsApp groups and social media pages.
Tapping into his Hebrew name, Yehoshua Aryeh Leib, (Aryeh meaning lion) Josh, originally from Manchester, UK, set up a WhatsApp group called "Wake Up Like A Lion," where he inspired hundreds of his peers, family and friends. Reflecting on his own battle with anxiety, Josh shared meaningful Jewish wisdom in weekly posts with his core messages of living with gratitude and seeing the positive in life.
After moving to Israel two years ago, he walked 1000 miles to raise funds and awareness for the mental health charity Enosh, posting about positivity as he traversed the length and breadth of Israel.
Fighting back with positivity. Josh walked 1,000 miles for charity, pictured here with his father Jonathan.
Inspired in Jerusalem
Shortly after his move to Israel, Josh began studying at Aish HaTorah in Jerusalem. Two weeks into his learning, he sent out this quote on one of his WhatsApp groups:
“The letters of the word ‘Bsimcha’, meaning ‘to be in a state of joy’ are the same letters needed for the Hebrew word ‘Machshava’ meaning ‘thought.’ because happiness results from a certain mindset.”
A day after Simchat Torah Josh was admitted to hospital in Petah Tikva with an infection that quickly overtook his body. His physical health deteriorated dramatically. Doctors sedated him for three weeks while they battled to save his life. Those same crowds of people he had been giving strength to gave him their own positive energy. Close to a thousand people joined prayer groups on his behalf.
Towards the end of October, having undergone surgery and been intubated for three weeks, Josh defied the odds and woke up, in an incredibly weak state, yet with an even stronger will to spread his message of positivity.
Learning Talmud overlooking the Western Wall, at Aish HaTorah
“My medical scare has been a lot to take in,” he wrote, “but I already feel I have learned a lot from all that has happened. There have been a lot of things that I was unable to do for three weeks, so now I have developed a recognition for every small thing I can do since then.”
He followed this up posting a picture of his first steps outside, appreciating his first breathe of fresh air in almost a month.
“On Monday I breathed fresh Israeli air for the first time in a month.” A post by Josh Carr at the Beilinson Hospital, after being intubated for three weeks.
Josh was on the road to recovery and had managed to spend six precious weeks at home with his family in Raanana. On the first night of Hanukkah, he posted a picture of his menorah, reflecting on his own miraculous journey of recovery, turning it into an uplifting message for others.
“We are ALL real-life miracles,” he wrote. “From the miracle of opening your eyes in the morning, to being able to talk, walk, and enjoy life. These are all things that are easy to take for granted, but life becomes much more special when we appreciate these things.
On the last night of Hanukkah he sent a message to a few friends that he watched the flames of the menorah for 20 minutes, in tears of gratitude that he was alive. He died just a day later.
Hundreds attended Josh’s funeral in Raanana, with many hundreds whose lived he had touched joining via zoom from all over the world.
Finishing a tractate of Talmud
Just before he had been admitted to hospital in October, Josh had pledged to learn 100 pages of Talmud in the merit of friend who had also been unwell. He had decided to join a daily learning cycle called Daf Yomi which learns a page of Talmud a day. Josh had fallen ill as the Daf Yomi adherents started learning the tractate Rosh Hashanah which he had planned to learn. He woke up from his intubation 15 pages behind.
From his hospital bed, Josh endeavored to finish the tractate of Talmud together with his father, and a few weeks later he did. Despite huge odds stacked against him, Josh succeeded in completing his first tractate of Talmud.
Completing a tractate of Talmud a month ago at his home in Raanana.
Since he died, news of this accomplishment has gained wings. Rabbi Eli Stefansky who teaches Talmud over the web to an audience of 8,000, shared a video of Josh to inspire his students to know that they can achieve what they set their hearts to. This week as the daily Talmud cycle began a new book, Josh’s father Jonathan Carr posted that over 120 people from all over the world have pledged to complete the tractate in Josh’s merit.
Josh taught me so many things. He showed me to appreciate that life is a gift and we are here to enjoy it – and the best way to do that is to say thank you and be grateful for every minute. Josh made the world a brighter place. He will be sorely missed.
Wishing Josh’s parents Jonathan and Mandy and his sisters, Dalia and Liat comfort among all the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.