NORTH PALM BEACH, Fla. — Community members close to Gary Levin are reacting to hearing the news of his death.
The Jewish Community Services Chabad of Palm Beach is offering to cover the cost of the funeral service and burial expenses for the Palm Beach Gardens man.
"It's expensive. Burial, funeral, a cemetery plot, it's expensive," Rabbi Leib Ezagui of the synagogue in North Palm Beach told WPTV reporter Joel Lopez. "Many people don't have the money to put out. A lot of people didn't pay in advance."
The synagogue said Levin and his girlfriend, Kathi Ginsberg, aren't members but relied on its food donation branch The Kind Kitchen.
"We're here to assist in any way possible. We're here to take care of whatever we can, and the community is really here to help you out," the rabbi said.
The Kind Kitchen serves families in need from Tequesta to Delray Beach.
"Kathi called us every single week to thank us for the food. She'd always send a little note in the envelope saying how she appreciates the food, and everything is delicious," said Chani Ezagui, the founder of the Kind Kitchen. "Sometimes she'd put a few dollars in the envelope to show how she cares, and she would say, 'If I had more, I would give more.'"
The Kind Kitchen said it feeds 3,200-plus people every month.
Staff members said Levin and Ginsberg were recipients of weekly meals for the last two years.
"On Friday night, you have a thing called a Shabbat and you light candles and then you say a prayer," Ginsberg said. "I didn't really have a great deal of religious background, but (the Kind Kitchen) gave me that, and I needed that."
Staff members said knowing the two had some financial hurdles, they hope to bring the family some ease in helping lay Levin to rest.
"May you know no more pain," Ezagui said. "We are all here for you. We'll be holding your hand. We know what you're going through and if anything, anybody can do for you, we will be there for you and we love you. We care about you and the entire community is like your family."
Friends and acquaintances are also coming forward to say Levin was a kind and friendly individual.
WPTV anchor Tania Roberts spoke with Carol Carrino, who lives in Pennsylvania and said she first met Levin in the 1970s as director of a graduate program at a medical college.
Carrino said Levin was enrolled in a program that trained students how to use art and music to help others.
He was trying to organize a reunion with fellow classmates.
"I would just like to say to the family that I am so, so sorry," she said. "There was never anybody we're more proud of you and your accomplishments, more loving and he just radiated love. So I just sympathize so much with your loss. Please know that other people are missing him and loving you."