Faith, resilience, determination—these are only a few of the adjectives that immediately popped into my head as I sat down with Isaac Silverman, founder of Part The Tee, at a local Irvine Starbucks on a warm Monday afternoon. Part The Tee is a new, local, Jewish T-shirt printing company that works in collaboration with a variety of different Jewish organizations around the Orange County area. However, it is not the great work of Part The Tee that attests to the uniqueness of this business venture, rather it is the story of Isaac Silverman, a story of faith and perseverance, that truly speaks to the company’s essence.
Roughly fifteen years ago Isaac woke up. But it wasn’t nine hours after he had gone to sleep, nor was it even a few days of unconsciousness, rather, Isaac woke up after a two-year coma—a result of a stroke that he had suffered after a nearly fatal car crash, which occurred days before.
“Everyone was shocked when I woke up,” Isaac told me, the doctors had already given up on any hope of the coma ending. According to Isaac it was truly a miracle that he even woke up in the first place. But that’s when the trouble started.
Before the accident, Isaac had a successful business with his dad as his partner. Isaac had a new house, several cars, money, and a social network of friends and family.
“Imagine waking up and everything being gone. Imagine you fall asleep on a Tuesday and you wake up thinking it’s Wednesday, but it’s actually two years later and everything has changed.”
I couldn’t help but look at Isaac in awe, marveling over his positivity as he sat there telling me about his journey. Isaac woke up to discover that during his coma his dad had passed away and the bank had taken his business, house, and savings to pay for his medical bills. Years of struggle followed. Homelessness, loneliness, hundreds of nights spent outside, alone in the cold. With a very limited social safety net and almost no governmental help, Isaac had almost nowhere to turn and was truly at the end of the road.
“Thank G-d the Jewish Federation exists,” Isaac told me after recalling his story. “It is truly humbling how an accident like mine makes you realize just how little you are worth to most people.” But the Federation was there and stepped in to help. Isaac continued to reiterate to me the importance of the value of helping fellow Jews, an idea ubiquitous throughout Jewish sources and tradition. There will always be people in the community suffering and in need of our help and it truly is our job as a Jewish community to step in and come to their aid.
And this is a message that Isaac has clearly internalized. With G-d’s help and guidance, as Isaac explained, he got the idea for his t-shirt company, built a website with zero experience, and has already begun processing and fulfilling large orders. But, even with financial hardships, Isaac has resolved to give 10% of his earnings to charity for others that may have gone through traumatic events in their life and simply need money to survive.
Isaac’s story and company represents radical positivity in the face of unthinkable tragedy. It is at once inspirational while also imbuing us with a moral imperative to help those who are less fortunate, and always seeking to support people through whatever struggles they may be having.
Part The Tee may seem like just another company, but in reality it is a story, a message, and an inspiration to us all.
Isaac is also available for promotional inspirational speaking (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Check out their website at PartTheTee.com.
Daniel Levine is a contributing writer to Jlife magazine.