After Yossi Gerson returned on motzei Shabbos, his parents, Wendy and Alan Gerson, distributed the following message.
Over the course of these harrowing days, thousands of people have shared our plight in the most personal way. Now that this episode has been so swiftly and miraculously resolved, we’d like to share some of the background behind the story.
One of Yossi’s most passionately held ideals is achdus [unity]. It’s a concept that he lives, a concept that he’s discussed with us countless times, particularly over recent weeks.
These past few months have been difficult for Yossi on a personal level. The challenging life circumstances he’d been facing, coupled with the pain that he was exposed to in the lives of others, led to an emotional crisis. He set out of the house on Shmini Atzeres determined to visit and help a homeless friend who was alone for Yom Tov. This is the kind of caring that characterizes Yossi. We sent him off with food, and with hugs, and with the expectation that he would be home by Wednesday morning.
Tuesday night, when Yossi’s homeless friend called asking for him, we realized that something was very wrong. Yossi was lost and in potential grave danger. If he was ok, he would certainly have come home or called us. We were frightened and worried. With the help of Rabbi Boruch Ber Bender, we contacted the police and our friends in the community for help.
By Wednesday night, Yossi’s disappearance was made public. Hundreds of people combed the neighborhood for clues. On Thursday night, over 1,000 people came to search: Yossi’s Rebbeim and classmates, my own former students and their parents, relatives, friends, neighbors, colleagues, acquaintances, and total strangers. The diversity was astounding; the unity was overwhelming. They were out until 5 am, with no results.
When dear friends told us about the Motzaei Shabbos Tehillim gathering that they planned to arrange at Yeshiva Darchei Torah on Yossi’s behalf, we were sure that nobody would come. After all, how could we expect anyone to extend themselves night after night, especially after Thursday’s incredible showing?