He was a high school English teacher who led the kind of life that rarely makes headlines. It was a life devoted to those less fortunate than himself, a life of compassion and idealism. It was the life of someone who, at 31, still believed he could change the world, and he was the kind of person who might have been able to do so.
But on June 2, Jonathan Levin, a teacher at the William Howard Taft High School in New York’s impoverished South Bronx, was found murdered in his modest Manhattan apartment, allegedly killed by two men — one of them a former student — for $800. While many of us have grown numb to such stories of senseless urban brutality, this time the victim was a member of our own family — Jonathan was the son of Gerald Levin, chairman and CEO of Time Warner, parent company of ENTERTAINMENT WEEKLY, and a longtime champion of this magazine.
There can be no greater grief than that of losing a child. In Jonathan’s case, the circle of mourning rippled beyond his family and friends to the teens who had passed through his classroom. At his funeral, a teacher read odes written by the students to the man who had instilled in them a deep and priceless belief in themselves. Those students are Jonathan’s legacy, and through them and the many others who knew and loved him, his lessons of a life worth living will endure.