top of page

A Cruel Summer

This summer has been tough.

Not just for me personally, but for my family and community.

I took a last-minute trip to Israel and watched my beautiful aunt finally lose her brave battle with cancer. I spent long nights with her in the hospital as she withered away. We watched her suffer immensely until, finally, the creator put her at peace.

After being faced with death for a week, I returned to find out that during my absence, my son had been rushed to a hospital from summer camp with a Hyphema, and my daughter had broken her leg - again.

We ventured to hospitals, doctors, and specialists all over the country. In and out of emergency rooms, pulling insurance cards out right, left, and center. We were shocked and kept saying this too shall pass. When I had time, I called my family back in Israel and listened to heart-wrenching speeches from the funeral.

Just a few days after we recovered, news of the most tragic event a family could experience broke — right here in our small community.

My son's really good friend's brother, tragically drowned.

One of the purest families we know faced the most unbearable tragedy, and everyone was shocked. No casket should be that small, and upon witnessing it, I shamelessly broke down.

Which is fine.

It’s OK as a G-d-fearing Jew to sometimes throw your hands up in despair. To be frustrated and angry. We spend many days and hours studying the book Shaar Bitachon (Gates of Trust), which speaks about putting your complete trust in G-d and his ways.

And then, when push comes to shove, we are challenged to apply those lessons, and it’s not easy.

But two things can be true at once.

We can understand on a deep level that there is a plan which we are not privy to, and we can also feel despair and cry out to G-d to stop the pain.

We can believe, and we can fear. We can trust, and we can still feel heartbroken.

Even through this darkness, there are still glimmers of light.

As my aunt was vacillating between life and death, I sat by her bedside and said Tehillim. It says the shechinah (G-d’s holy presence) rests on the head of a sick person, surrounding them with holiness.

While I was sitting next to her, a potential client I had pitched months ago and never heard back from called eager to seal a deal — not a miracle, but I did feel like she was helping me out — she had always been supportive of my work and introduced me to her important friends.

I learned about my son and daughter’s injuries while on a train from the international to the domestic terminal in Chicago. I collapsed upon hearing everything and was helped by a random stranger who patted my back, helped me find my gate, and didn't leave before looking me in the eyes and saying, “Whatever you’re going through, I hope you find peace.”

The same evening that we heard the terrible news about sweet Shalom Ber A”H, we started a book/toy drive to support his siblings. The next morning I woke up to more money than my PayPal account had ever seen (not a big achievement, but still). We were able to shower his siblings with an abundance of gifts to help with the difficult days ahead.

This was just weeks after my good friend had lost her father (more suffering), and the same community had revolutionized into a giving army, showering her with cleaning help, babysitters, truckloads of gourmet food, and spa vouchers. Our community wasn't done giving.

My sister-in-law, who lives in Crown Heights and doesn’t know the Markel kids personally, rushed out to buy them all the treats they love. Having lived in Israel, the Markel's appreciated snacks we couldn’t get in Pittsburgh. She went above and beyond to get it to us the next day.

We made a massive, very heavy, order of books from a store in NY called Judaica World which they happily shipped overnight for free — I don’t even want to know how much that cost.

Will all these little glimmers change the facts? No.

But they are a small reminder to hang on and keep truckin’ because the light will eventually overcome the darkness.

Even if we’re not feeling it every day and get frustrated and hurt, deep down, we know there is a plan that will someday make sense on the deepest level possible.

Until then, we just do our best with the ups, downs, and in-betweens, trying to bring our own light into what can often be a messy world.

bottom of page