Elisha Cohen was one of the eighteen kids in my daughter’s nursery class, two years ago. Elisha’s family moved to Houston shortly before we moved to Charleston, and since they did not live in our area, we did not know the family well, although we certainly knew of their reputation as a dynamic couple in Jewish outreach. And yet, despite the fact that the Cohen family was little more than strangers to us, their six year old child has dominated my facebook wall this week – as I, and about 100 of my facebook friends have repeatedly shared the request to help save his life.
The Cohens are counting on the prayers and kindness of strangers as their last resort.
We left Houston about a year and a half ago, but we have kept close ties with the community, where we have many friends. Shortly after we moved, I saw a number of posts on facebook from these friends, asking to pray for a little boy in the community who had been diagnosed with cancer.
I was horrified to learn that it was Elisha Cohen.
My husband and I prayed for him and checked updates that his mother posted about how he was doing. We rejoiced when after months of treatment, he was declared in remission, and enjoyed seeing the pictures of the little boy on the mend, playing with other children. But this September, he relapsed and from what we read, we knew it was not good.
We saw constant updates from Devorah Cohen, pleading that everyone pray for her son. The addition of Rafael to the beginning of Elisha’s name, in the effort to fool the Angel of Death. A plea that Jewish communities around the globe take challah, in conjunction with the Houston Jewish community, who arranged a challah baking event, done in Rafael Elisha’s merit. Devorah’s plea that every person forgive and let go of a grudge, in the merit of her son. Pictures of Rafael Elisha looking terribly ill. Friends collecting money for the Cohens’ exorbitant medical bills.
And with every post we read, we looked at our own five year old daughter, with tears in our eyes as we could only imagine the unfathomable pain the Cohens were enduring. Their desperation to fight the losing battle to save their son.
This past week, on the heels of the report that there was nothing else that doctors could do to help her little boy, Devorah Cohen made a desperate plea, asking everyone to sign a petition for the FDA to grant a compassionate exemption for a medical treatment that could possibly help Rafael Elisha.
Within 48 hours of Devorah’s post, there were 5,000 signatures. By the next day, there were 10,000. Numerous Jewish websites posted pictures of Devorah and Rafael Elisha and asked for everyone to sign the petition and share. The Cohens are requesting 100,000 signatures by January 2nd. It won’t happen unless everyone who is reading this, signs and sends it to everyone they know.
There are some who have declined to sign the petition because the clinic the Cohens want to try is controversial and many feel that the treatment it offers is ineffective. The Cohens have made it clear that they are aware of the clinic’s reputation but they also know of success stories. They have no other avenue to try and they are desperate to try anything they can to save their son’s life. Who can blame them?
We pray that we should never know the pain the Cohens are experiencing right now. Please show them your love and support in these three ways:
1. Pray for Rafael Elisha Meir ben Devorah.
2. Sign the petition and share it with as many people as you can. The petition can be found here.
3. Donate money to the Cohen family to help with Rafael Elisha’s medical expenses here.
May Hashem grant Rafael Elisha a refuah shlaima and may we merit to share joyous occasions together.