W(hole) Heart

Biniyam in Ethiopia

Five year old Biniyam suffers from a hole in his heart. Last week he bled through his mouth as his parents desperately sought word on evacuation from Ethiopia to a hospital in Israel. The boy is one of thousands of Jewish children waiting to make Aliya with their families.

News of Biniyam comes to me via his uncle, my young friend Mesenbet, the leader of Ethiopia’s Children of God Circus Troupe.

Why do I care so much about a boy and his heart? This year I lost both my 29 year old son Yosef Eliyahu and my 96 year old father Seymour (Yaakov Sholom,) a strong advocate for Ethiopian Jewry. In their memory I sponsor a Jewish infant in Ethiopia whose mother died after childbirth. And my heart longs to help more.

I remember my son when I talk with the young people who help children in Ethiopia become fluent in Torah as I did with Yosef. I remember my father as I listen to veterans of the Ethiopian cause.  And I imagine my dad’s smiling face, seeing the strides made by new Ethiopian Olim who’ve made it to Israel.

As I look at what it will take to save Biniyam’s life and release him from the prison of his illness, I know he needs generous people who can provide the passport, visa, airfare and hospital fees necessary to make Binyamin whole.

Dr. Mesrasha Dessie, who recently made aliya, texts me one word on WhatsApp.

“Emergency!”

I hope this boy will live another year to hear the miraculous stories that sustain his people.

May the seas part for Biniyam.

Note: A version of this story by the author appears on Medium.

About the Author
Neal H. Brodsky, a family and somatic psychotherapist, writer and activist lives in Connecticut near NYC. A contributor to the 2021 Routledge International Handbook of Play, Therapeutic Play & Play Therapy, he practices online during Covid-19 and is affiliated with the Israel Center for Self Transformation. Originally trained as a script writer, his career includes ten years writing grants supporting families in subsidized housing, more than a decade in marketing positions at major U.S. public television stations and programming management at HBO. Neal curates One Jewish Family: News of Ethiopian Jews social media feeds on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. He also writes for publication in The Forward and Medium.
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