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  Speech from Gabi Ladowski, David Diego's brother,
   
during the Memorial Services on 09/01/02 
    at Congregation Beth Am in Buffalo Grove, IL

 

 
Thank you everybody for being here with us today. We understand that this is a very busy weekend and some of you had prior commitments for which it makes it so special that you are here with us this afternoon.

Before I start talking about Diego, I also want to thank you all for your generosity supporting the charitable organizations that help so much on these kind of tragedies and for being there for us when we needed it the most.

I remember when Diego was born, we were so excited, it was May 31, 1973, in Buenos Aires, Argentina; I came back from school and they told me that mom and dad (Sara and Abraham) were in the hospital and we had a baby brother. I was almost 10 and my sister Roxana was 3.

We went to visit the very next day; there he was, all wrinkly. I couldn't wait to play with him. As we grew up he was always such a good kid, we enjoyed watching him grow and develop all his skills but particularly his intellect.

During the summer, we used to spend 3 months in a country house, we played in the pool, in the big yard, but what we enjoyed the most was after lunch, when some people takes a "siesta" we used the quiet time to read books or color pictures. At the time I was very fond of Disney characters, so I started to draw and paint each character on a separate piece of paper.

Diego started to recognize and memorize each character, so we would play games where he would name them all. Then he moved on to recognizing letters associated with the Disney characters and soon he was able tell every letter in the alphabet. He was about 3 years old and everyone enjoyed being with him.

Of course from that point on, reading was piece of cake for him, and by the time he was in kindergarten he could read like no one could believe. They even used him as Master of Ceremonies to present the school plays and of course they were taking credit for how good the education was at the school showing him as an example.

When Diego was in high school he had once traveled to Israel with a young Jewish program called "Tapuz." When he came back he already had something in mind.

I remember everyone commented the fact that I kept an American flag next to my bed and he had the Israeli flag next to his.

Years went by, he made lots of friends and his achievements kept on filling up the pride of our family; he also enjoyed sports. He became black belt in Karate, ha was a big fan of one popular local soccer team (Racing Club, also know as "The Academy") and played basketball.

During his teenage years I became an adult, so I didn't have the chance to spend so much time with the family anymore. I went to college and had two jobs while he was still a teenager in high-school, but he bonded pretty good with our sister who is closer in age.

Then I started my own Design Studio, I got married, business was booming, so I brought him over to help me out; I knew I could trust him better than anyone else; and as I was running my business from home, he also had the opportunity to spend more time with Vivian, who he was chasing around the house telling her all kind of stories about his friends and school. We shared some really good times working together.

It was 1989, the economic situation in the country started to decay dramatically, to the point that it was impossible to keep any business running, Vivian got pregnant, and since she's an American citizen, we decided to try it out in the "Land of the Free and the Home of the Brave." It was very hard leaving everyone, but they all understood it was for the best.

2 years later, our sister decided to go on her own too, so she took off to Israel to study Physical Education at Wingate University in Netanya and work on a kibbutz.

Then it was Diego's turn, 1992 and he had it all figured out (as usual). To set "Aliyah" (immigrate) and become a diplomat.

At that age anyone could say "that's too ambitious, and for a foreigner without speaking the language, almost impossible". Well, let's remember we're talking about Diego here. He not only learn Hebrew, but he did it so well, he was able to speak and write to an academic level where professors were astounded about the richness in every piece of work he delivered.

He didn't have many monetary means, but he was able to study on scholarships, and work at the University. He made lots of friends there too. He received his B.A. in Communications in 1996. Later that year our parents Abraham and Sara retired and joined him. They settled in Netanya, so they could be close to both Roxana and Diego.

Diego moved with them, he was not only a good son but he was a good friend, they shared many good times together and he was there for them to help them with paperwork or whatever they had any kind of language barrier.

Then he completed his army service as an academic officer during which time he obtained the rank of lieutenant.

Working in the army was also quite an experience. He was in charge of recruiting; after a while one of the programs he was in charge was cancelled. Instead of just sending a cold letter to the people enrolled to tell the bad news, he met with every single one of them in one-on-one meetings to explain the reason why the program got cancelled. After that they came up with a new project for which he reinvented his job and help them with all coordinating efforts and logistics. One person who was in the "Tzabah" (the army) with him told me that he and the officers used to meet in a particular room every time to discuss issues related to that project, Diego used to sit every time on the same chair, so till now that became "Diego's spot"…

It was time then to move on, his superiors begged him to stay and even try to convince our parents to talk him into staying in the army, but Diego had to continue with his "bigger plans."

He moved to Jerusalem, but he managed to spend most weekends with our parents. My parents remembered how he'd enjoy while being with them in Netanya, reading for at least one hour the Old Testament, go to run along the beach and swim. And of course, as a good son, enjoy our mom's cooking (which made her feel so good), and discuss with our father anything from politics to any other subjects.

Whenever he had the chance, he would also visit our sister, now divorced and living in Eilat with her son (our nephew) Daniel, which he would spoil and take good care of, and made sure he had everything he needed for school.

That year he served as a broadcast supervisor at the Ministry of Communications, I used to tease him about that job, since he had to watch TV and rate the shows…and he was getting paid for that! I met the people that worked with him who told me how much they enjoyed reading what he had to say about each show (particularly the Mature Audience-rated ones…)

That happened until January 2001, and then…the big step: He joined the Israel Foreign Ministry's diplomatic cadet program.
So you have an idea, there are about 2,500 applicants from which only 20 are selected. They have to pass extensive tests to be accepted. He came within the first 4!

Simultaneously he was pursuing an M.A. in Public Policy. At the time he already spoke fluently, and wrote in 5 languages: Spanish, Hebrew, English, German and French, and also could communicate in Russian.

Always eager to learn more and more to reach a level of perfection, people at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem remember him as an extremely resourceful person, always with a smile on his face and ready to help anyone who needed it.

If anyone had any difficulty with any subject he would take the time and make sure that that person understood all it was needed to pass that test.

A Russian young woman told me that once she was a little lost in one of the classes, without anyone mentioning anything, and to her surprise, later she found that Diego had facilitated her materials, so she could get right on track. Stories like this go on and on, he had time for everyone. Of course also he would make sure that everyone would get his emails which often came with a funny joke.

Professors at the University remember him for his freedom of speech, he would speak his mind and never hold back a thought, and even though in cases they might have disagreed, they respected his opinions greatly.

At the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, he found his dream come true. He met and interacted with high-caliber international personalities from all over, and everyone in the diplomatic world leaned to love him, and so did his co-workers at the Ministry too.

Just like at the University, he was always smiling and ready to help anyone who needed anything. He prepared materials for his bosses' trips (among them Shimon Peres) for which he was always praised on how thorough and well prepared his work was. Later on he was assigned to work on the Europe department. He traveled to Germany and Yugoslavia with the Ministry on several assignments.

Victor Harel, Deputy Director General for Europe under whom Diego worked during the past year, said, "It was a pleasure to see his dedication, professionalism and motivation. He had a promising career in the diplomatic service. He spoke several languages, had a wonderful sense of humor, and was both brilliant and thorough. He saw his work in the Foreign Ministry as his vocation."

It was now 2002, the second year of his diplomatic training. Diego had been appointed to assume the position of Second Secretary, Deputy Chief of Mission at the Embassy of Israel in Lima, Peru starting in August 11, 2002. 

No one can remember a cadet to be assigned to such an important job in such a short period of time.

So then, as organized as he always was, sets his goal to be able to get all taken care of before leaving for Peru. 

Went to Lima for a few days to get all ready for his stay, visits our parents to make sure they have all they need, visits Roxana and Daniel in Eilat to do the same, and finishes all the papers for the University to make sure he'll get his Masters Degree with the highest qualifications.

July 31, 2002. Diego goes to the university to submit his last paper. He's visiting one of his former girlfriends and decided to go to the Frank Sinatra Cafeteria for the last time. 

They were almost done with their meal at about 1:30 pm when a bomb left on a table, inside a bag packed with shrapnel, went off. About a 100 people were in the cafeteria. The toll, nine people - four Israelis and five Americans- were killed and 86 injured, 14 of them seriously. That wasn't an attack to Israel but to the whole free world, since the perpetrators knew that people from all over study in that particular University. Hamas claimed responsibility.

David Diego Ladowski was buried in Netanya on August 2, 2002. 

We remember Diego as a humanist, pacifist with strong convictions, he was certain that eventually things will work out on everyone's best interest.

He was noble and honest; he loved culture and was always concerned for other people's well-being. He was good friend with his friends and family.

At his funeral people were saying they didn't remember seeing such a huge crowd since they buried the Prime Minister Yitzhak Rabin.

During the "shivah" (the week of mourning), we all had the opportunity to find out how grand and wonderful his life has been. People from all over the world called, sent telegrams and letters and pictures to express their sorrow and to share stories to explain why they loved him so much. Hundreds of people stopped-by to visit during that week. He touched so many people's hearts which will change their lives forever.

At home, we received over 40 telegrams from Ambassadors and Top Political figures to friends. At the University they received over 1,000.

Open letters and articles about him were also published in prestigious newspapers around the world and made front covers of some.

They put plaques in Canada remembering Diego, and the Magen David Adom (the Israeli Red Cross) received so many contributions in Diego's memory that they are also putting a plaque in Israel.

The University of Jerusalem has decided to establish an annual award in David's honor. The award will be given to gifted and talented young students, committed to a lifetime of public service and working for world peace and excellence. This award is being established by the President of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem along with the rector and professors.

On August, Friday 30, many people attended the "schloyshym" services in Israel; some flew especially to be there. There were prayers and speeches from diplomats, friends and family and politicians.

The Rector of the Hebrew University of Jerusalem, said on his speech that if there's ever an opportunity to give a name of an exemplary student, that would have to be no other but Diego. 

Here in Chicago, we have just established a Fund in his name that will provide financial help for students at the Hebrew University of Jerusalem.

We believe that the best way to face the challenge and continue his work is turning this bad situation into something good. Remembering him for all the good he's done and he was going to do.

His example will be the legacy for a better world.

Shalom, and thank you all so very much.

 

  © 2002-2016 Gabriel H. Ladowski