I would be remiss, if I did not thank Effie, of Talia’s Steakhouse, for hosting this kiddush in his restaurant. The Baal Shem Tov says naming is about the child’s potential - the “Shaim” means ‘there’ from the root ‘shom’ – the destination of what we hope our child to be. We went from young, doting first time parents to devastated paralyzed adults. I quickly contacted Gift of Life Foundation and setup a drive. To do the transplant, we had to move to Cincinnati Children’s Hospital, for the next 6 months, physically isolated from our families. To stay connected we started a blog called “Eye on Ayelet,” posting photos, medical updates, and observations. And her unusual optimism jumped off the page and somehow went viral. This miracle of a girl had the entire Jewish people cheering her on. Infertility and genetics are a foreign language, a different, complex, painful world, but one that Bonei Olam speaks so fluently. And because of this, Akiva Nechamtanu, Akiva you have comforted us. Rechnitz, who because of his generosity in supporting genetic research for Bonei Olam, gives people like Hindy and I another chance at parenthood. So far, Ayelet’s campaign has found matches for 115 children and adults suffering from blood cancers.
The Maharal that says parents get a prophecy to determine the name, to determine who the child will be. She came home and we felt like all first time parents. That next Shabbos we walked from shul to shul imploring each Rabbi to announce that our daughter needed a bone marrow transplant and we had to find a donor. But our community, our friends knew exactly how to respond. Within a few weeks we had bone marrow drives for Ayelet in almost every major city in the United States. When she got sick, prayers and tefillah groups would pop up across the globe. We called the thousands of visitors to her blog, her fan club: Ayelet Nation. But with time, a heartbreaking sense of no future set in. They said they would study her full DNA sequence to find the mutation. And I am happy to say, after one year of partnership with Bonei Olam, our miracle arrived. And one day our boy will learn about the beautiful girl that paved the way for him. We are writing to share some exciting news about one story, and give you an update on the contribution you made to Gift of Life during Ayelet’s search.
I want to be in a casino next time to use this power. But if you actually look in the Torah, you see the Matriarchs name their children differently, not what they want for them, or after dead ancestors of the past – but where they the giver, the parent, are currently. Ayelet’s smile would win over the hearts of the world. And when the transplant was a success, Ayelet Nation, rejoiced. But then, at day 150 post-procedure, Ayelet lung’s became infected. Because Ayelet’s disease was genetic and the mutation not known, there was no safe way for Hindy and I to have more children. We are now the proud and grateful parents of a healthy 1 year old son named Akiva Max. They help frame the trauma and search for a path forward. For the sea to split, we need to go all in, up to our necks. One of the donors who was a match is a 22 year old young man tested while studying in Israel.
The word Sham, meaning name, the two letters are also found hidden within the word Neshama. Deeply personal, reflective of their current situation. She is a renewal back to, quiet….a return for us, to normalcy. They say that after the splitting of the sea, the next miracle was surviving the dessert – and it says the miraculous maana, that sustained the Jews in the dessert, was said to be covered in layers of dew, Tal. Sometimes everyday little things conceal a larger miracle. And then celebrities came on board, like Rihanna and 50Cent, tweeting to find her a match. And thank g-d we were able to find a match to do the transplant. And, with her fragile immune system not fully repaired, she simply could not fight it off. We gave the name, Akiva, to our beautiful son because like his namesake, who knew so much tragedy and failure, he continuously kept on being an optimist. Only leaders like Rabbi Bochner and Chaim Jalas - are able to look you squarely in the eye with such love and say: This trauma is our trauma. We will cry together, and now we will create together. A recent Yeshiva University graduate, he saved the life of a 53 year old woman with aplastic anemia.
So like for example, Leah describes naming Reuven, Shimon, Levi as all ways to thank God that perhaps now her husband will love her… To experience Talia is to feel the blessings of a refreshed life. Our little Talia Miriam, Like our Akiva Max, is a reminder that our prayers, our personal Tefilas Tal, have been answered….there is balance back in the universe. In my head when I think about the early morning, I imagine the Ayelet Hashachar - the morning star, and the little drops of dew shimmering in the light working together, hand in hand - as reminder that things can start anew. This is real Gevura, the softer strength, this is why our religion make the prayer for Tal so important, to show that simple quiet acts of kindness of sustenance are stronger than any storm. The sukkos edition of Mishpacha Magazine includes a collection of perosnal stories of people who documented a period of time, in a diary or journal. She spent 2 months in the NICU and we thought that the trauma was over. We tried everything but – and there are no words to describe this. The mother of two kids in their early 20s, she is paying it forward as a patient advocate for others in similar circumstances at the hospital where she received her transplant!