Shimon Kraft met Kalman Levine on the first day of second grade when they were carpooling to a new Jewish day school in Kansas City. Even after Levine moved to Los Angeles and then Israel — rarely to return — they remained close friends.
Their friendship remained unbroken even after Kraft divorced Levine's younger sister.
"I was friends with him before I was married to his sister," Kraft explained.
Photos of Levine — who became an Orthodox rabbi and a Torah scholar — show a man with an unruly long gray beard and a black hat, but Kraft remembers him as the All-American boy from the Midwest, athletic and funny, a guy who could listen to...