Jeff Plevan was a remarkable person. He combined his love of Judaism and Israel with an infectious and upbeat personality and an inner drive to overcome life’s obstacles.
Diagnosed at an early age with severe delayed speech and language processing difficulties, by the age of 3 Jeff had started speech and occupational therapy. From age 4 to age 15 he attended special education schools and programs. He became a Bar Mitzvah at Central Synagogue in New York City, and continued on to Confirmation there.
After graduating from high school, Jeff entered the University of Arizona and graduated in December, 2000 with a major in Judaic Studies. While in Tucson, Jeff joined the Phi Kappa Psi fraternity and was active in Hillel and Chabad.
After graduation, Jeff worked for several years at the American Jewish Historical Society. He then attended Gratz College in Melrose, Pennsylvania, earning master’s degrees in Judaic Studies and Jewish Communal Service.
In December, 2010, Jeff realized his dream to become a Jewish professional, joining the staff of the Hillel at Hunter College in New York City as its first Development Associate. During the next two and one-half years in that position, Jeff helped to establish a successful fundraising structure that enabled Hunter College Hillel to survive and thrive.
Jeff was active in the Metrocats, the New York City University of Arizona alumni association. After several years on the board, in August 2012 he became President of the Metrocats, and his service and dedication were recognized posthumously with the Chapter Presidents award.
After college graduation, Jeff continued to be very active in Phi Kappa Psi. He was also an avid folk music fan, a collector of vinyl, and a frequent volunteer at the annual Folk Festival sponsored by the Clearwater Foundation. He also volunteered at Mt. Sinai Hospital in New York City. Jeff kept a Kosher apartment, and over the years frequently attended services at Reform, Conservative, Orthodox, and Reconstruction synagogues.
One week before his death, Jeff returned from a UJA mission to Israel, a country he travelled to frequently. He died, suddenly and unexpectedly of a heart attack, in Philadelphia, on his way to an annual event at Gratz College that he attended every Spring.
Jeff’s life embodied the fulfillment of Reb Zusya’s challenge – Jeff lived his life fully, reaching, indeed exceeding, his potential. May his memory be an inspiration for all who knew him, and for those for whom Judaism can help lead to a life worth living.