Last night we were honored to attend the bat mitzvah of our dear friends’ daughter at Kibbutz Tirat Tzvi (two hours from our home). Moshe and Chaviva Speter were part of the Torah Mitzion Kollel in Washington D.C. while we lived there. We spent countless nights learning in their home, enjoying time with them, and discussing the possibility of Aliyah.
Hallel was a little girl when they arrived in Washington – and here she was becoming a bat mitzvah. As part of her bat mitzvah, she took on a new mitzvah, the mitzvah of making challah.
And, on top of that, she dedicated her challah making last night to someone who is sick.
That’s where the intersection of our lives comes into play.
There is an idea in Jewish tradition that, while making the blessing during the challah-making, you can add the name of someone who is sick. If 40 challah-makers all do this on the same day, it is considered a segula (a good omen) to help with the sick person’s recovery.
At Josh’s work, one of the men’s wives, Libbie, was diagnosed with Hodgkin’s lymphoma while pregnant with her second child. After starting chemo treatments, she gave birth to a beautiful baby girl, and is now undergoing even more aggressive treatments for her recovery. Sending around an email request to many people that she knows, Libbie wrote,
“During the course of my pregnancy and treatments, my family and I organized 3 worldwide projects of Challah taking ("הפרשת חלה") on Erev Shabbat (or earlier) when making Challot, to pray for my full recovery and easy birth. Each time we had hundreds of women (and some men too) from all over the world participating in this beautiful Mitzva. I was full of joy on those shabbatot and I felt physically better, stronger, happier and healthier thank G-d! On the 28th of September, in honor of “Rosh Hashana” (the New Year), we are organizing our fourth “Hafrashat Challah operation" for my full recovery and a healthy New Year IY”H.”
Sitting in Tirat Tzvi, Hallel and Chaviva read Libbie’s email. Chaviva decided that this would be the perfect project for her daughter’s bat mitzvah. She would take challah and make the blessing for a complete recovery for Libbie – someone that she did not know and had never met.
Enter the Sussmans.
While signing me up to make challah as well a few days ago, Josh noticed someone from Tirat Tzvi was signed up on the list. Then, he noticed that it wasn’t just ‘someone,’ but that it was Hallel. He couldn’t believe that she was on the list, and pledged that he would ask her about it at the bat mitzvah.
So, last night at the bat mitzvah, we approached Hallel and Chaviva about it. We asked them how they knew Libbie. Chaviva explained the situation and couldn’t believe that we knew this woman, for whom her daughter was focusing on her mitzvah. Chaviva said that she was actually stressed because Hallel was about to make the blessing for Libbie, but that they couldn’t remember her full name (having misplaced the piece of paper with her name on it).
Not to worry, Josh and I both said in disbelief. We certainly know that. We offered her the name, Hallel made the blessing while Josh took pictures, and Josh ran out of the room to call Libbie’s husband and tell him what had just happened.
May Libbie have a complete and speedy recovery and may HaShem continue to put us in the right place, at the right time for the coming year.
If you want to be part of the Hafrashat Challah project for Libbie, follow this link:
Please remember Stella Frankl (Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sara) as well when taking challah and making the blessing.
May these women have complete recoveries in the coming year and may we all be blessed for the year ahead with health, prosperity, family and blessings.
שנה טובה ומתוקה