Adam Levine, ‘huge personality, everyone’s friend’

Adam LevineFacebook
Adam Levine

When Adam Carlton Levine was in seventh grade at Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation’s religious school, he complained about a teacher on behalf of the class to Moshe Ben-Lev, the Reston synagogue’s director of education. After speaking to Levine, Ben-Lev, who’d been having problems with the teacher, fired him.

“I probably wouldn’t have done that in such a rush if it hadn’t been for Adam advocating for the rest of the class. He was very much a leader like that,” recalled Ben-Lev.

Levine, 21, died March 19 at a music festival in Miami following complications from a seizure. A junior political science major at the University of Miami, he was a member of Alpha Epsilon Pi, a Jewish fraternity.

A memorial service was held March 22 for the Reston native at Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation, with 600 people in attendance, according to Rabbi Michael Holzman.

While in high school, Levine worked as a teacher at the synagogue’s religious school and as a counselor at its summer camp for preschoolers. He attended the Union for Reform Judaism’s Camp Harlam for eight years.

“He was a huge personality and everyone’s friend, with a gigantic smile, a loud voice, a beautiful love of Judaism and love of life,” remembered Holzman. “Every room he walked into his presence was known in a wonderful, positive way. It’s a very big loss for the community.”

Ivette Retrey Golinsky, a preschool teacher at the synagogue and director of the summer camp, is a longtime friend of the Levine family.

Golinsky remembered how Levine would stop by the synagogue when he came back from his studies at the University of Miami to let her know he was available to substitute teach. He was always on the list when there was a shortage of substitute teachers.

“He was just wonderful with the children. They adored him. He never got flustered or intimidated,” said Golinsky. “He was 19 the summer that he worked for me full time, and there aren’t many 19-year-olds that I would entrust to run a classroom, but I did with him. He was a very responsible person. I just can’t say enough good things about him. He was full of life and just a wonderful human being.”

Levine is survived by parents Bruce and Laurie Levine, a brother, Jeremy, and a sister, Sari.

His family has requested that friends make memorial donations to the Camp Harlam Memorial Fund, care of Northern Virginia Hebrew Congregation at

[email protected]

JTA News and Features contributed to this article.

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