Our Story


On the night of Purim 2020, my grandfather, Julian Smith Z”L (Yehuda ben Yisroel) passed away just a couple of days before the COVID-19 shutdowns began. Julian grew up in Brooklyn, NY and always had a special and unique pull towards Torah and G-d. Without any yeshiva education, my grandmother and grandfather worked incredibly hard and built a Torah home. Julian's observance was based on immense Emunah (faith) and joy that was so pure and sweet that I can only dream of achieving someday. He would work for as long as it took him to recite shemonah esrei (prayers) or bentching (blessing after meals), whether 10 minutes or an hour, with such pure passion and connection.

At the end of his life, Julian Z”L lost his ability to communicate voluntarily and he was unresponsive. However, at random points he would cry out while breathing heavily the words of the end of Adon Olam “V'im ruchi g'viati, Hashem li v'lo irah” which means “even if my spirit leaves, G-d is with me, I shall not fear.” The only words he was able to say was an expression of the essence of how he lived his entire life, by absolute and utter pure faith in G-d, even as he ascended to the next world. We had never once heard him say this sentence out loud until the end of his life when his body was in distress.

On his final Friday night in this world, his neshama (soul) was already mostly in heaven with his physical body still with us so that we could say goodbye. As we sat with my unresponsive grandfather by his bedside, through tears we sang him the song “Vehu Keli,” the declaration of faith that his neshama had been crying out for the last months of his life. As we sang, we saw signs of life for the very last time in incredible fashion as his eyes opened and he breathed heavily acknowledging the beautiful words we were singing. I believe that he felt that he was ready to go to G-d and he fulfilled his mission once he saw that we were going to continue the tradition of faith that he worked so hard his entire life for.

My grandfather has inspired me to live a life based on pure Emunah (faith) and over the last year, I have created artwork based on his values to remember him and honor his incredible legacy and footprint that he has left in this world. The piece above with the words of “Vehu Keli” is incredibly meaningful and was the first piece that I created. I walked down the aisle with tears to the words of “Vehu Keli” and was married under my grandfather’s tallis in March 2021, a year after his passing. A portion of proceeds from all sales will go to charity in the merit of the soul of Yehuda ben Yisroel, Julian Smith Z”L.