web analytics
April 19, 2015 / 30 Nisan, 5775
At a Glance
InDepth
Sponsored Post


Home » InDepth » Op-Eds »

For Tehila


Tehila Elbogen died in March, shortly after her sixteenth birthday and after a two-and-a-half year struggle against a rare and as yet incurable cancer. She lost the physical battle, winning the one that was spiritual and leaving a legacy that all of us who knew and admired her shall cherish until the end of our days.

She taught that life is not measured only by the number of years. At least as important, it is measured by how the allotted years are used. By this standard, she lived a full life and triumphed over death, a truth that as yet is of limited consolation to her family. I write now but did not write when she died because I feared my words would be inadequate, that they would not convey Tehila’s vitality and goodness and what made her special.

For forty-one years my wife and I – and the children as they came along – have shared a two-family house in Boro Park with Brocha and Shmuel Hoch, they as landlords and we as tenants, terms that while accurate in a strict legal sense distort the essence of an extraordinary relationship. They are our closest friends, people of instinctive kindness. There is a powerful bond of affection that encompasses their children and ours and now also their children’s children. We are an extended family.

Shmuel and Brocha have five children, each gifted and blessed with spouses of great merit, achievements and character and each actively involved in our community’s religious life. Recki is the youngest. Her modest and soft demeanor conceals substantial intellectual strength and other gifts. Her spiritual strength is greater still. We have known her since the age of two, and I can say with certainty that I have never heard anyone utter a deprecatory word about her.

Recki and her husband, Volvi, a man whose merit mirrors hers, were fortunate to have five beautiful children, with Tehila in the middle as the third. Tehila was sweet and smart, at once serious and full of fun. She had a smile that enveloped her and was transmitted to persons in her presence. She wanted so much to live. She had so much to give.

When she was diagnosed, the shock was enormous, as it always is when children are stricken with a life-threatening illness, an experience more common than we may want to acknowledge. Chai Lifeline, which was established to serve and assist Jewish children with cancer and also the families of these children, attests to the prevalence of serious illness, as do the pediatric oncology departments of major hospitals.

As parents do in these sad and frightening situations, Recki and Volvi worked feverishly to do all they might to help their daughter, seeking whatever information they could learn, ensuring she got the best medical care, acquiescing to different treatments and staying with Tehila for days when she was in the hospital. Their love, support, and devotion knew no bounds.

In good health Tehila was petite. Illness made her frail. Yet there was that life-affirming smile, that ever-present “thank you soooo much” on her lips. Her love and concern for others drew everyone who came into contact with her into a unique, everlasting circle of love. Knowing the pain she experienced was bringing much pain to her parents, she tried to shield them from the knowledge of her enormous suffering.

Though she never wavered in her emunah, she undoubtedly experienced moments of difficulty over the fate that was hers. One of her oncologists at the Children’s Hospital of New York-Presbyterian, a woman who obviously knows much about tragedy and suffering, came to love Tehila and to know of her wounds. This is from her memorial tribute to Tehila’s indomitable spirit, an expression of gratitude “for her courageous miracle life I was blessed to share”:

 

 

When I hear people describing the “uncomplaining” girl who was always so “nice,” I think quietly “are we talking about the same kid?” My Tehila relentlessly reproached her disease – sometimes catching the ones she most loved in the crossfire. At first I thought she barely tolerated me, then I was let in on the secret. I was one of the lucky few permitted to see the real stuff of which she was made.

About the Author: Dr. Marvin Schick has been actively engaged in Jewish communal life for more than sixty years. He can be contacted at mschick@mindspring.com.


If you don't see your comment after publishing it, refresh the page.

Our comments section is intended for meaningful responses and debates in a civilized manner. We ask that you respect the fact that we are a religious Jewish website and avoid inappropriate language at all cost.

If you promote any foreign religions, gods or messiahs, lies about Israel, anti-Semitism, or advocate violence (except against terrorists), your permission to comment may be revoked.

No Responses to “For Tehila”

Comments are closed.

Current Top Story
The flag of Iraqi Kurdistan.
US Consulate Targeted by ISIS in Iraqi Kurdistan
Latest Indepth Stories
US has no problem with Egypt's bombing hundreds of homes of Gaza civilians but can't stand to see Israel destroy a terrorist's home.

Egypt has been more effective against Gazan smuggling tunnels than Israel’s military operations

Mrs. Golda Katz a"h

She had many names and was many things to many people, but to me she was just Babineni.

ISIS terrorist carries the group's black flag.

Is ISIS in Gaza? “No, but there are ISIS loyalists here..we pray to God they unite under ISIS’ flag”

Cliff Rieders

Rabbi Portal was that great “inspirer,” changing people for the better, enriching the lives of all

Iran knows Obama, Putin, and the Europeans don’t have a Red Line beyond which they will go to war

There is no way to explain the Holocaust. I know survivors who are not on speaking terms with G-d. I know many who are the opposite. I have no right to go there…

When a whole side of your family perishes, friends become the extended family you do not have.

“We stand with Israel because of its values and its greatness and because its such a wonderful ally”

Mr. Obama himself inelegantly cautioned members of the Senate to be careful not to “screw up” the negotiations by seeking to have input into the future of the sanctions regime that has been imposed on Iran.

For our community, Mrs. Clinton’s foreign policy record will doubtless attract the most attention. And it is a most interesting one.

Mitchell Bard is nothing if not prolific. He has written and edited 23 books, including “The Complete Idiot’s Guide to Middle East” and “The Arab Lobby: The Invisible Alliance That Undermines America’s Interests in the Middle East.” Bard, who has a Ph.D. in political science from UCLA, is also the executive director of both the […]

Understanding the process described in Dayenu reveals deep relevance for us today.

For Rabbi Zvi Yehuda Kook, the tanks, planes, and uniforms of the IDF were implements of mitzvot

The only way to become humble is honesty about our experiences; it’s the only path to true humility

More Articles from Marvin Schick
Marvin Schick

My guess is that most yeshiva students also winged it or cut corners because they, too, had rather onerous schedules.

Marvin Schick

To say he was beloved because of the way he loved his students does not sufficiently capture the reality.

Although I was not a Zionist, like most others I knew in Agudath Israel in which I was active, I was zionistic.

We now are in the season of advocacy of preschool, referring specifically to the education of children who are four years old.

Two months ago, the Pew Research Center issued a comprehensive study of American Jews and ever since the American Jewish community has been debating the findings. I have contributed my share to this debate, which concerns matters of critical importance.

As the Torah teaches, poverty will never be eradicated, nor will our obligation to assist those in need.

As we commemorate the fiftieth yahrzeit this Friday, the second day of Kislev, of Rav Aaron Kotler – the greatest Jew, in the opinion of even many of his fellow Torah luminaries, ever to set foot on North American soil – we are obligated to reflect on his achievements and the lessons he taught.

A major sociological characteristic and consequence of modernity is the tendency for people to join together in associations that express a common goal or interest or a shared experience. The United States has been a nation of joiners from day one and perhaps even before independence was declared. Alexis de Tocqueville described this tendency in Democracy in America, the epic prophetic work published a century and three-quarters ago.

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/indepth/opinions/for-tehila/2007/09/05/

Scan this QR code to visit this page online: