She was the first-born and by all accounts, quite brilliant.
In the early 1900’s, her father, Choni (Papa) had preceded his family to the shores of America to find a better life for the family he left behind in Europe. As with so many of his landsmen, he planned to send for his family when he found a livelihood and a decent place to live. Yet his wife, Ita, (Mama) had other ideas.
A secretary to Theodore Herzl, and a fervent Zionist, she had every intention of settling Palestine. She made her way there with her mother, Roza, her oldest daughter, Chaya Mirel, and the baby, Sora Rifkah.
Hashem, however, had other plans. An insurrection occurred. Travel to Palestine was impossible. Ita would never fulfill her dream of making aliya. She ended up in America, after all.
The day after the family arrived, Papa set out to find a suitable home for the family, but Chaya Mirel refused to join.
“Dos iz nisht mine sheine Tatte.” (“This is not my handsome father.”) Papa was dressed in his work clothes. She insisted that her father change into proper attire before setting out.
Papa was a tall, imposing figure with an iron will. Yet his first-born daughter melted his resistance, and he did change his clothing to suit her wishes.
Identical twin boys were born in America, and then, Chaya Mirel passed away at the tender age of seven due to a cerebral hemorrhage. My parents were heartbroken. One can only imagine the impact that this tragedy had on them.
A few years later, another little girl was born and she was named Raizel Mirel in memory of her grandmother, Roza and her sister, Chaya Mirel. This little one was my mother, a”h.
Recently, a young man approached me where I work at the Crown Heights Jewish Community Council. He asked for me by name and handed me an envelope. I couldn’t imagine what sort of document it contained.
It was ayahrzeit notice for little Chaya Mirel from The Lubavitch Youth Organization, popularly referred to as “Tzach” (Tzeirei Agudas Chabad). I felt a pang for this little girl whom my mother never knew, yet for whom she lovingly insured that “Chaya Mirel” would never be forgotten. With my father long gone, Kaddish would now be recited for her annually through the Tzach organization.
Chaya Mirel, you will never be forgotten! May the Geula come imminently!