For as long as I can remember, an older man named Rabbi Mendel Morosow would be holding a microphone at the family celebrations of my cousins and singing off-key.
Bearded and of short stature, he would sing Chassidic melodies from the heart, yet he had every reason not to sing.
Rabbi Morosow was born in 1916 in the village of Lubavitch, where his life was defined by the Russian revolution and its life-threatening dangers.
The Soviet secret police agency NKVD persecuted his father -a Chabad activist who established underground synagogues, schools and mikvahs- and arrested him in 1938.
He never seen again. Only years later it was discovered that he had been executed and thrown into a mass grave alongside other Chassidim.
Rabbi Morosow survived the loss of his father, and the trials of the Second World War, escaping to France and Ireland. He immigrated to the United States in the 1950s.
His message was always one of hope and absolute faith, despite the horrors he had witnessed.
He once explained that the Hebrew word for the world (haolam) has the same root as the word for concealment (he'elem). The world we live in often conceals what is right and just.
But he added that no matter how old, how weak, or how sick we might be, we want to keep on living, because it is only in this world that we can do Mitzvos and achieve greatness.
So Rabbi Morosow lived his life with a constant smile on his face, and he would sing at every opportunity.
He passed away today at the age of 101 and left behind hundreds of descendants and thousands of students. He loved life and lived life to the fullest.