web analytics
March 27, 2015 / 7 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
Palestinian Authority TV broadcasts incitement from children's school theater.
Palestinian Authority School Children: Boycott Israel by Killing Jews [video]
Latest Indepth Stories
Islamic Relief Worldwide Logo

In November 2014, Islamic Relief Worldwide was classified as a terrorist organization by the United Arab Emirates.

Safran-032715

Too rarely appreciated for its symbolic weight; it can represent freedom and independence.

Erica Pelman is a spiritually-driven woman. She is founder and director of “In Shifra’s Arms” (ISA), an organization that offers aid to pregnant Jewish women of all religious backgrounds practically, financially and emotionally. Its arms are open to any pregnant woman in need whether single, divorced, separated, or from a financially-strapped family. “Presently, we are […]

Gerstenfeld-032715

Many so-called “humanitarian NGOs” frequently abuse Israel by applying false moral equivalencies

Israeli history now has its version of “Dewey Defeats Truman” with headlines from 2 anti-Bibi papers

In God’s plan why was it necessary that Moses be raised by Pharaoh, away from his own family&people?

In their zechus may we all come to appreciate that life is a fleeting gift and resolve to spend every precious moment of it as if it were the last.

In any event, Mr. Netanyahu after the election sought to soften his statement on Palestinian statehood and apologized for what he conceded were remarks that “offended some Israeli citizens and offended members of the Israeli Arab community.”

A worthy idea any way you look at it.

There is something quite distinctive about the biblical approach to time.

The Waqf kept control of the Temple Mount due to Dayan’s “magnanimity in victory” after 6 Day war

The event promotes “1 state” solution (end of Israel as a Jewish State), BDS, lawfare against Israel

I rescued you?! You’re doing me a favor letting me help you!

“Tzedakah tatzil mi-mavet: Charity saves from death”; No death & a tax break? Where do I sign up?

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: