A Cancer Hospital Synagogue: Not the Typical Bar Mitzvah Venue

Cancer and Bar Mitzvah: Not a Good Mix

From Motty’s Mother

I am the mother of seven wonderful children. My oldest, Motty, was almost bar mitzvah. At the school where I teach, I was also the “Corona coordinator,” so my days were filled .

 I could hear Motty from the next room reviewing the haftarah (Portion of the Prophets to be read in honor of his Bar Mitzvah) . What an uplifting feeling! I couldn’t detect anything unusual about the way he was standing. Probably those complaints about his leg were just growing pains.

But on day he showed me a strange redness. I made an early appointment with the doctor so he could get to school on time and we could go on with our lives. Tests were taken and…neither one of us has been back to school since.

Our precious Motty was diagnosed with the dreaded disease. We heard the doctors’ explanations about the aggressive tumor. We heard as if from a cloud. We couldn’t absorb a drop.  They told us about the treatment options and the immediate hospitalization, and, all we could do is cry.  Next to us was our suffering Motty, and six little children waited for us at home. They each needed us 100%, and we weren’t functioning even 1%. And then you came by.  To offer a hot meal, smile, encourage, and listen… From that moment, you became the lifeline that Hakadosh Baruch Hu (G-d) sent us. That same day we received professional counsel from your medical referrals team and went in with you to Maran Hagaon Rav Chaim Kanievsky shlita to ask for his advice and blessing. Meanwhile, an understanding volunteer stayed with Motty, while another volunteer was sent to be with the children at home. That was the first day…

The next day, you already sent a hot meal to the house, with prizes for the little ones, and since then, for two months already, you’ve been embracing us with help. You give us the hope that one day, everything will be fine, b’ezrat Hashem (with G-d’s help). You are always there for us, helping and supporting. It’s hard to believe that we know each other such a short time.

A week from now is Motty’s bar mitzvah. On Shabbat, he will have his aliyah laTorah (call to the Reading of the Torah) in the hospital shul (synagogue).

Yesterday, when I was with Motty, he cried a lot from the pain and about his sad bar mitzvah. Next to him, I tried to be strong and to promise that he’d get better and then we’d make it up for him and hold a huge seudas hodayah (celebration), with an aliyah laTorah (call tot eh Torah Reading) in our neighborhood shul. But I didn’t succeed in calming him. Instead, to my dismay, I started crying along with him. We sat there, mother and son, filling wads of tissues with tears. I never thought I could cry so much. I couldn’t stop.

And just then, as if you are connected to us by some invisible force, your volunteers came in with a guitar and an accordion and a lot of surprises and were so cheerful and lively that it wasn’t possible to keep crying. Motty calmed down and started smiling and you spoke about a much bigger simcha (celebration) when we leave the hospital and celebrate our thanks to Hashem (G-d) together with the bar mitzvah.

After you left, Motty told me that, for him, Ezer Mizion is the rock to hold onto. Afterwards, he fell asleep with a smile on his face, and I thanked Hashem for sending us such good people.

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