Pray it Forward

Pray it Forward

This is not a regular RJS post with a pretty photo and good wishes.

Sometimes you see something and think, “wow, that’s special.”

What a feeling when you find out it is bigger and better than you originally thought.

I saw an idea on Facebook and decided to help promote a 15-minute prayer session.

A virtual, international prayer group to show support and love for Ahava Emunah.

#HealingWithLove   #TogetherForAhava   #PrayItForward  – easy I thought.

I had done dozens of #Happylanche in honor of Ahava Emunah in the past.

Poser of flowers for #happylance

Perfect for after the holidays, unity, good will and good wishes from around world.

So the Facebook Group Together for Ahava was formed.

Facebook group together for Ahava

Link to join HERE  

But, that is only beginning of this story.

One of the first comments was:

I don’t pray daily anymore
I don’t wake up at 5am unless I have a really important flight that I was forced to take
I don’t wear a kippa anymore
I don’t keep Shabbat anymore
I don’t really believe praying for onesself works
…But I will be praying with all you lovely people with all the Love and Faith I can muster for the refuah of our dear friend and the healing and joy that will bestow upon her dear family ❤️❤️❤️🙏🙏🙏

Wow, I thought this is better than I thought.

But, then Shira emailed me her story, the reason behind this initiative.

Wow is not powerful enough for this!

4 years I nearly died.
I was with my husband and kind on my annual trip to the United States to visit my parents, siblings, and extended family.
I only get to see my family once a year, so I always look forward to this 2 week visit.

But in 2014, things went terribly different from my regular trips.
Four days after landing, and while standing at the Kiddush for my daughter’s Bat Mitzvah, I suddenly, out of nowhere, felt like someone punched me right in the stomach.
It was the freakiest experience in the world.
Like it happened totally out of nowhere.
And then, within seconds, I felt freezing.
I remember asking my brother if he wouldn’t mind lending me his suit jacket.
And then I felt like I was going to throw up.

Hundreds of friends and family came from far and wide to celebrate with us and I felt like a strange stomach virus was coming on.
I took myself home immediately, thinking I needed to be close to a bathroom.
My parents followed and strongly encouraged me to go to a hospital.
As the non-medicine/hospital person that I am, I told them this would pass.
It was only a stomach virus.
A 24 hour thing.
Plus, what hospital in America would take me? I was on traveler’s insurance and had no idea what that would even cover.

The next day, I was begging my husband to get on the phone with the insurance company in Israel and tell them – I. NEED. A. HOSPITAL.
Two days after being admitted to the hospital and having endless CTs, MRIs, ultrasounds, blood tests, and failed attempts at laproscopy, the physicians, surgeons, and specialists were stunned and stumped as to what was going on.
And then, I went into septic shock.
All my systems stopped working.
I was dying.

Decisions were made for me without my consent.

The next thing I would remember, 36 hours and two major abdominal surgeries to extract all the pus that was covering every organ in my abdominal area later, they gave it a name.
Spontaneous peritonitis.
I was told 1 in 3 people usually die from it.
I had survived, but was clearly not anywhere close to seeing the light.
I would be unable to get out of bed, unable to stand, unable to pass gas, and unable to eat.
I would be on a feeding tube for two weeks while in the hospital.
I would be unable to communicate verbally to any of the doctors.
I was in the most excruciating pain I had ever experienced in my life – nothing remotely compared to any of the 4 natural childbirths I had gone through.
Visitors came.
But because of the pain, I kindly asked to limit them to nearly none.

And so, I was alone.
And I felt alone.
And scared.
And confused.
I was filled with many, many questions.
Why me?
Why this?
How am I going to take care of my kids when I can’t even get out of bed?
How am I going to take an 11-hour flight back to Israel?
What about school for the kids? It starts next week!
And Avi Chai starts first grade!
This can’t be happening!

I cried a lot during that time.
A lot.
Cries of self-pity and victimization.
And I’ll never forget when a rabbi friend of mine came to visit, just for a few minutes.
I assumed he would just ask how I was doing.
Or ask what I need.
Or tell me that God is watching over me.
Or something like that.
But, he didn’t.

He told me he was praying for me.
Shira Bracha bat Malka.
He was using MY name in HIS prayers.
And not only that, he said the entire community was praying for me.
The. Entire. Community.
Shira Bracha bat Malka.
I was speechless.
Could it possibly be that people are taking time out of their very busy days and lives to pray for me?
People that don’t even know me?
People that have never heard of me?
They’re praying for ME?
It was something unfathomable.

You see, I did not grow up religiously observant.
Praying (let alone praying for others) was not something familiar to me.
Why would people, who don’t even know me, pray for me?
The enormous sense of gratitude and love that was instilled in me in that very moment brought me to tears.
One minute prior, I was feeling alone.
One minute later, I was feeling enveloped in a world of hope.
And faith.
That I would get through this.

Even if it would mean my husband would have to take our 4 kids back to Israel alone.
Even if it would mean using a walker for the next month and then a cane for the next four.
Even if it would mean telling my boss I’d need to take a sick leave.
Even if it would mean not being able to carry anything heavier than a glass of water for the next six months.
Even if it would mean not being able to stand upright or use any of my stomach muscles for the next several months.
Even if it would mean staying in the United States and not seeing my kids for the next two months.
I would get through this.
We would get through this.
Because hope and faith were instilled me by people praying for my healing.

Around the time that I was sick in the hospital, I stumbled about Ahava Emunah’s blog (a fellow ImaKadimanik), who for the past six years has chronicled her experiences as she “runs with” stage 4 cancer.
I immediately subscribed to her blog because I knew this was a superb human being.
Over the past few years she has courageously confronted her illness with optimism, resiliency, and super-human grace.
She has inspired me, and so many others in this group and around the world to bring love, gratitude, and faith to our lives.

I cannot come close to describing in words how Ahava Emunah has touch my life and the life of so many others.
Whether you know her or not, a magical opportunity has been created to virtually participate in a 15 minute segment of space-time (no matter where you are in the world), next Tuesday, October 9th (Rosh Chodesh Cheshvan) at 3 PM Israel time.

A critical mass of sincere hearts will (virtually) coming together to raise their voices in support and prayers of healing for Ahava Emunah Lange.

I will never forget how the power of prayer helped me in my journey towards healing.
I would like to pay that forward and do the same for Ahava Emunah bat Chava Ehta.
If you would like to join this virtual experience, please comment below and I will send you the details.
Thank you.

Consider joining us on Tuesday. HERE is FB link. Please share with your friends.
For those interested Tehilim, Psalms 1, 6, 13, 20, 102 and 130 are suggested.
Also, a GoFundMe Fund was started by friends see: HERE
Best of Jerusalem on Sukkot

Best of Jerusalem on Sukkot

Another Sukkot holiday season has come to a close.

Tens of thousands of tourists and visitors arrived from around the world.

As usual, Birchat Kohanim, the Priestly Blessing, was a popular event,

but there was much more happening in Jerusalem, Israel.

Hebrew sign at Liberty Bell Park

Jerusalem parks and green spaces welcomed large crowds for the holidays.

Beit Hanasi garden for sukka open house

The garden was ready for the annual “open sukka”at Beit Hanasi, the Israeli President’s Residence.

Rivlin and LItzman with giant mouth on sukkot to promote health

Good health was the theme this year, and Deputy Health Minister Yaakov Litzman came for a preview.

Making melon fruit drinks at Beit Hanasi for Sukkot

They watched as pedal-powered bikes made ice cold fruit drinks, here with a watermelon base.

The lemon/nana (mint) I had was refreshing on a hot day.

Sukka in Beit Hanasi open for public

The weather was warm, but the sukka was cool and inviting.

Wall of sukkah at Beit Hanasi with Hamsa

One wall was lined with colorful hamsa designs each with a different slogan.

Wall of sukka at Israeli President House

The other wall was lined with the ‘seven species’ that Israel is known for.

Etrog irregular shape at Beit Hanasi for sukkot

This ‘finger etrog’ was the best of the season. While not kosher for holiday use, it has the most interesting shape.

Sukkah at Israeli President House for private use

In addition, there was a traditional sukka on the Beit Hanasi grounds near the synagogue.

Muslim woman at Beit Hanasi taking a photo of President

This woman was taking photos of the President and MK Litzman inside Beit Hanasi. 

No one else thought the scene was photo-worthy, just another regular day in Jerusalem.

An annual event on Sukkot is the Jerusalem Parade.

Jerusalem Parade security

Streets were closed, and security services were out to protect the tens of thousands on the streets.

Entrance to Sacher Park day of Jerusalem Parade

Gan Sacher, Sacher Park, was the gathering place for thousands of march participants.

Israeli families come each year for activities in the park.

Jerusalem Parade costumes

They also come to see the colorful and interesting costumes.

Jerusalem March people dressed in elaborate costumes

Close to 100 countries were represented this year.

Jerusalem Parade Sukkot tabernacles

Women in matching costumes carried 12 tabernacles with the most amazing coordination.

The march proceeded to First Station by way of Bezalel Street.

People walking in Jerusalem Parade on Sukkot

The excitement of the participants was obvious.

Sukkot Parade Jerusalem March

Each year I thank my friends who are named Brazil for introducing me to this event.

Most countries come prepared with small flags to give out to those lining the streets to watch.

I hope they got something good from the marchers this year, as Brazil had the largest group with 900 participants.

Jerusalem March for Sukkot

While Israelis return each year, this man from Brooklyn was at the parade for the first time.

Jerusalem Sukkot parade woman dress in red, white and blue

This woman, I assume from the USA, was all ready to give out the Stars and Stripes.

We love Israel banner at Jerusalem Sukkot March

Sponsored by the International Christian Embassy of Jerusalem, many marchers come back every year to show their love for Israel.

International group at Jerusalem Sukkot Parade

Even security guards can relax rules at this feel-good event. A guard let these women into the park through an exit gate when they arrived late.  Notice all the flags he had already collected from the marchers.

Not just Christian visitors participate, as IDF soldiers, and other Israeli groups march also.

So much more happened over the holidays. There was music and dancing night after night at hotels and local community centers, and even the Harlem Globetrotters performed in Jerusalem.

Sukkot in Jerusalem,  another amazing holiday season has come to an end.

One more quick look at the impressive parade and Facebook photos here.

Much is happening in October, so no down time after the holidays on the Jerusalem streets.