Lawrence Garbuz and his family are feeling tremendous gratitude for the prayers and tehilim said on his behalf when he was the first diagnosed case of community spread COVID-19 in New York. While his wife was in Israel with two of his four children, he fell ill and his condition increasingly got worse. He went to his doctor who immediately sent him the emergency room at a local hospital. By the end of the weekend, due to his rapidly worsening condition, he was transferred to the ICU in New York Presbyterian. By Monday night, March 1, 2020, the hospital shared the diagnosis with his wife, Adina Lewis, Garbuz, that he was the first confirmed case of someone to have COVID-19 without having travelled to China. She then proceeded to provide the Departments of Health in New York and Israel details of her and her children’s whereabouts so the spread could be curtailed. At that time, no one realized how widespread Corona virus was. By March 2, the New York State Governor and Mayor of New York City announced that a fifty year old attorney in the law firm of Lewis and Garbuz had been the first confirmed case of community spread Corona in New York. News of Garbuz’ dire health situation spread very quickly throughout the Jewish community around the world and immediately tehillim and prayer groups were formed to pray for his full recovery.
Now six months later, COVID-19 still ravages many Jewish neighborhoods and cities around the world and many Jews will be unable to join in communal prayer services for the upcoming High Holidays. In welcoming the Jewish New Year, the Garbuz family wanted to share their sentiments of “hakarat hatov”- recognition of good- by thanking the greater Jewish community for their support and prayers on behalf of Lawrence. They chose to share them by placing ads in many Jewish papers in Israel and New York. The ad reads as follows:
On March 1,2020 our world stopped- our Eliezer Yitzchak Ben Shifra, Lawrence Garbuz, became very ill with COVID-19 and we desperately needed all of your tefilot to beseech the Rebono Shel Olam (G-d) for his full recovery. While the world was learning about “the estate attorney from New Rochelle” and about “patient zero” you were davening, learning and saying tehilim on his behalf. People throughout the world from Eretz Yisrael, Europe, South Africa, Australia to North America came together to help us through this terrifying time.
We wish we could thank each and every one of you personally but we at least hope to publicly express our deepest thanks to all of you for the tefilot (prayers) on his behalf. That all of you, as Am Yisrael, came together as one and davened on our behalf no doubt played a great role in his recovery, something he and we will never take for granted. We hope this time of coming together will be our zechut (privilege) for all of us be safe and healthy from the Magefa (Plague) that has been upon us all at this time.
Every year as we approach the Yamim Noraim (High Holy Days) we all take stock of our past year and pray for a good new year. This year, our family will personally do so through a different lens- from one with tremendous gratitude and hakarat hatov of the gift of life we have been given and pray that it should continue for each and every one of us in Am Yisrael and all mankind. And for the so many dear ones of us who tragically succumbed to this disease, we hope and pray that each and every one’s neshama should have an Aliyah.
Wishing you a Shana Tovah U’Metukah. Ktiva V’Chatima Tova to each of you from Lawrence Garbuz, Adina Lewis Garbuz and Family.
At this time, Lawrence continues to recover.