By Avraham Granat
Shliach in Coral Springs, FL
A hot, sweaty afternoon in Palm Beach county. To be more precise, a hot sweaty afternoon at the Eternal Light cemetery. Arriving with my friend, we encounter a line that is coming out of the gate. This was the funeral of Jewish Professional MMA fighter, Aaron Rajman HY”D, who was tragically murdered on Monday night in a home invasion.
If you haven’t heard of Aaron, let me introduce him to you in a nutshell. Before every fight, Aaron would yell out “Shema Yisrael”, wearing a pair of shorts, gloves and tzitzis. He taught self defense to countless people, children and adults alike (I’m one of them), even instructing the Palm Beach Police Department in Krav Maga techniques. His calm and subtle demeanor belied this expertise in what could be considered a violent lifestyle.
Walking up to the graveside service, a crowd of approximately 300 people are gathered around the tent, covering the site of his internment, I looked around, and noticed something amazing, it was probably the most eclectic groups you are likely to see. You had every race and creed represented, of course the usual suspects of Jews in hats and jackets (oy vey was it hot!), then you had the Jews of every denomination. Looking further at the crowd, you could see among the sobbing and weeping people, a diverse group of gentiles, Black, White, Asian, and everyone in between, especially the MMA fighters, noticeable with their bald heads and cauliflower ears.
The funeral was officiated by the Rajman’s local Shliach, Rabbi Zalman Bukiet, of Chabad of Boca Raton, and he spoke of the inspiration that Aaron had been to so many people, especially the youth. Every so often you could hear an audible “Aymen!” from someone or other in the crowd. Rabbi Bukiet even asked that everyone shout out Aaron’s trademark phrase, Shema, as a mark of respect, which sounded more like a Tzivos Hashem rally than a funeral. This was a man, who single handedly brought together so many people of different backgrounds, in a way that celebrated his relationship with G-D. He wasn’t a Rabbi or a Yeshivah student, just a great Jew who paid forward the love of Hashem he had with everyone who he met.
I approached one of the MMA guys there, who I heard was a fighter named Travis “TNT” Taylor, and told him that there is something we have in common, we were both beaten in a fight with Aaron! (While training in krav maga, I had the distinct and scary honor to spar with Aaron. I then found out why he is the fighter, and I’m a teacher! [The video is quite amusing]).
In that conversation, he told me that in the back room before the fights, he would gather everyone, no matter who was there, in a circle to pray to G-d.
Video: Aaron Rajman sparring in Krav Maga
When it comes to the coming of Moshiach, it says in Tzephania – “For then I will convert the peoples to a pure language that all of them call in the name of the Lord, to worship Him of one accord.” In other words, Moshiach will bring everyone to speak a common language of belief in Hashem. This afternoon, one special Jew’s tragic demise showed that we can all come together, Jew and Gentile alike in serving the One G-D. This was so apparent, that you could feel it in the air.
Thank you Aaron Rajman – Meir Berish Ben Betzalel Tzvi, you gave me a glimpse of moshiach.
L’chaim and Osu (that means yasher koach in MMA talk), I look forward to seeing you again b’guf gashmi!