The Five People Who Meet in Heaven

It’s been a helluva week. Oh God, oh God what a week. Tragedy has laced itself into each and every one of my days, with a frequency that threatens to numb me to the pain.


“Did you hear about Raquel’s sister?” came the ominous Whatsapp.

“What??? No…”

“She died, it was on the news…something crazy!”

A quick internet search threw my weekend into mourning. Daniella Moffson a”h — the 21-year-old sister of a friend — a med student at Columbia, an angel masquerading as a person with her whole life before her, was killed in a tragic bus accident along with two friends while on a medical mission in Honduras.

I couldn’t fathom the sadness. This golden girl, the epitome of vitality and goodness and giving, was no more. I cried for her sister — my friend — and wondered how she and her family would survive. I drew morbid parallels between my own two little girls. I prayed that G-d give them the strength. And the comfort to ease the searing pain that is loss of potential, loss of life, loss of who she was and who she would become.


Twelve missing Marines were identified after their aircraft went down off the coast of Hawaii. A fellow Marine and special friend took to Facebook, beseeching her friends to pray for the successful discovery of her comrades. The search has since been suspended; none of them was found.

It is impossible to comprehend the grief of multitudes whose sons, brothers, husbands, fiancés, fathers, friends, and cousins vanished without a trace — killed during an act of service to their country.

Shabbos brought with it peace, and the absence of news reports, but also the sickening reality of having no choice, but to fully immerse in the raw pain and sadness of indescribable loss.

I thought it couldn’t get worse. But I was so so wrong.

On Saturday night, the devastating outcome of an exhaustive search that began on Thursday was revealed: the body of 22-year-old Devorah Stubin a”h, of Passaic New Jersey, was found dead in her car at the bottom of the Passaic River.

She had been missing since Thursday and she leaves an entire community drowned in sadness as we try to come to terms with her terribly tragic end to an obstacle-filled life.


As the flames of our havdala candles the night before kissed the preceding week and all of its sorrow goodbye, we hoped for a bright beginning of a new week. A shavua tov.

But what we got instead was the horrific stabbing of a young mother of six — an aishes chayil embodied — who fought her attacker till her dying breath in efforts to save her children from the same fate.

Dafna Meir, A"H, the young mother who was stabbed to death in her home in Otniel by an Arab terrorist on Sunday, January 17th, 2016.
Dafna Meir, a”h, the young mother who was stabbed to death in her home in Otniel by an Arab terrorist on Sunday, January 17th, 2016.

Dafna Meir a”h, the woman whose name we never knew until this week, unless of course we happened to have been a beneficiary of her fertility treatments, neurological nursing, or open hospitality. And now this heroic, courageous woman whose life was a series of overcoming hardship with grace, has fought her final battle. Another family of orphans who will never again feel Mommy’s warm embrace, or enlist her help with homework. Another broken widow.

And we are broken, too. It seems impossible to endure this much heartbreak. We are shards of glass, shattered into a million tiny pieces and even the strongest of glue — our unity and love — cannot make us fully whole again.

Wounds, so fresh, have not even begun to heal, when we are assaulted by the next wave of terror. And so it was, this week as well.


At around the precise time Dafna a”h, the slain mother of Israel, was escorted by the entire nation to her final resting place, a 15-year-old Arab terrorist stabbed pregnant Michal Froman as she shopped for clothing in a secondhand store near her home in Tekoa.

In a twisted way, I silently rejoice when I hear that she and her unborn child have survived the attack. What is this sad new reality I find myself in? How has my body adapted to this news with such nonchalance?!


At this point, I am programmed to be on edge, one ear perpetually awaiting the next blow. As sad as it seems, it is my only defense mechanism, a way of shielding myself from complete and utter shock upon news of any forthcoming suffering.

Wednesday it hit.

Early morning, in a whirlwind of lunch packing and hair brushing, the hatzala radio crackled to life with an announcement of a child CPR in progress. I immediately recognized the address as being on the block of my friend and colleague, and sent up a silent prayer as I wrestled my baby’s tiny arm into her sleeve. I was already at work when I heard the unthinkable.

My heart dropped as I received news that the baby, Chani (name changed to protect identity) a”h did not make it, a precious sweet one- year-old the same age as my own daughter — gone forever.

I think that’s when the final shred of my heart was ripped in two. The last straw, as it were. Interesting, how the one story that failed to make national media coverage was the one which found me in the work bathroom (yes, again!), wracked with sobs and praying for the young family whose once placid life was just met with the ultimate sadness.

When I was later informed of the sudden passing of Rabbi Ronnie Greenwald, zt”l, a giant of a man whose tremendous influence reached every crevice of our forever grateful community, I knew that if I didn’t somehow put this to paper, pay tribute to these lives and lights, I might just go insane. I needed some closure, some semblance of comfort in their deaths.

And it was then that the thought occurred to me. These people, seemingly unconnected — truly from every end of the spectrum in terms of age, culture, life experience, religious affiliation, life’s work — were all hand-picked by Hakadosh Baruch Hu this very week, perhaps to indicate that there IS some method to this madness, some meaning in the pain.

I imagine it like this: *

 Thursday. Daniella Moffson, her blonde hair blowing in the warm heavenly breeze, that dazzling smile on her lips, greets Devorah Stubin, no leg braces in sight. She feels more alive than she ever has, as there is no chronic fatigue syndrome or epilepsy in heaven. She is saluted by 12 US marines, who’ve finally been found — their purple hearts gleaming in the blinding sunlight.

Sunday brings with it Dafna Meir, and the cheering upon her arrival up in Heaven is rivaled by the wailing of her worldwide family in the earthly realm below.

The past three days have been filled with new perspective, and paradisal delights. Pure laughter and joy ring out from the Heavenly Throne.

Wednesday.  All suddenly goes quiet as the shining gates once again herald a new arrival. Rabbi/Uncle Ronnie Greenwald, looking like a man who is glad to finally be able to rest his weary shoulders — after all, the weight of the world does get heavy- does one final act of chessed — in his arms he holds Baby Chani, one of the purest neshamas to ever live — but you can barely see her for the glow of her halo. You can hear her unmistakable baby giggle though. They all join hands, smiling in eternal happiness, vowing to watch over us down below, sending other-worldy strength to aid us in the final pangs of the imminent redemption. The torch has been passed.

Ken Yehi Ratzon. (So May it be Your Will, {G-d}).

*Disclaimer: The above depiction is a product of my imagination, events that I can only wish to be true. This is not intended to be viewed as anything other than my personal thoughts, and it is my fervent hope that its sensitive nature doesn’t upset any of the loved ones of the people mentioned. Please inform me if it does, and of course I will remove ASAP.

About the Author
Nechama Eisenman is a 9 year consecutive winner of the "World's Okayest Mom" title, and never met a carbohydrate she didn't like. She rejoices in finding G-d in the mundane, is madly in love with her husband and 3 little girls, and relies on spurts of infectious baby giggles to get through the day.
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