Up’s and Down’s

B”H while it is good to be home with Benny and the family, my heart aches for our dear friend’s, the Feder’s.  Tomorrow, will be two weeks that they have been without a “normal” night of sleep.   While B”H I was able to share encouraging news with you on Friday, Shabbos brought it’s challenges and fears. I would like to share with you an email I received this evening that sums up Refael Yoel Ozer’s condition and ideas of what is being done on his behalf.

Written by Rabbi Eli Gewirtz Partners In Torah

10 days ago, I sent an email to family and friends of Partners in Torah about 2-year-old Yoel Feder. The response to that email – over 70 emails to date – was simply overwhelming. People from all walks of Jewish life committed not only to praying for Yoel but personally committed to a mitzvah in Yoel’s merit, as Yoel’s mom requested. Some spelled out the specific mitzvah they took on (to name a few… going to Western Wall to pray, not speaking lashon harah, giving tzedakah, studying more consistently with their Torah partner, praying on a regular basis, baking and separating). Others were less specific. One woman wrote “I did a mitzvah this evening that was very difficult for me as a merit for little Yoel”. Several people offered financial assistance, one person sponsored 10 pairs of Tefillin! Virtually everyone asked for an update on Yoel’s condition. My apologies for not responding to those requests until now. There simply wasn’t anything new, nor anything encouraging to report. Seeing him again in the hospital, hooked up to the most sophisticated life-sustaining equipment, was a painful sight, one which I was reluctant to detail.



While Yoel has had ups and downs in the past couple of days, the doctors are hopeful but have stressed that he has a long road ahead of him. He has one eye open but cannot yet see. Please G-d, he will be seeing perfectly sometime soon. They took out the shunt in his brain, a truly encouraging sign, but he has multiple skull and facial fractures and will require several surgeries. The doctors are talking about 6-12 months in a special pediatric rehab hospital.  


Yoel’s parents are extremely grateful to each and every one of you for your prayers, mitzvot, and good wishes. They have made two requests: that everyone keep praying and doing mitzvot, keeping in mind the name for Refoel Yoel Ozer ben Chaya Malka. They also wrote the following: “There is a tzedaka that is near and dear to our family. If anyone would like to give tzedaka for Refoel Yoel Ozer to have a full refuah (recovery), we would be soooo happy. The Special Children’s Center, 1400 Prospect St.,

Lakewood NJ  08701. This tzedaka helps thousands of Jewish children with severe disabilities: Please put on memo of check for refuah for Refoel Yoel Ozer.   Thank you so much, everyone!!!!!  We are taking it one hour at a time.” Donations can be made at www.thecenternj.org/donate    


May I suggest that those of you studying through Partners in Torah mention Yoel’s full Hebrew name before commencing your study. May I also suggest that those who do not currently have a Torah Partner sign up today in Yoel’s merit.  


All emails describing what people have done in Yoel’s merit have been forwarded, and will continue to be forwarded to his parents. They’ve expressed the following several times: “it’s keeping us going”. Please accept my apologies for being unable to respond to individual requests for updates. Rest assured that your prayers and mitzvot are still needed. As mentioned already, this is going to be a long haul. Please G-d, I’ll haveextraordinary good news to share real soon.     

With Purim, the holiday of hidden miracles, just around the corner, please join me in praying that the Feder family experience a complete transition from darkness to light, and from sadness to rejoicing.


Wishing you and your family a joyous Purim,


Eli Gewirtz


P.S. Many of you forwarded my original email to your own lists, generating a large number of additional requests for updates. Please be so kind as to pass this message along to your caring friends.

I have been thinking day and night what I can do to make a difference .  One way I look at it is to look at the situation and see what needs to be “fixed.”  Today, after speaking with Avi Feder and hearing his concerns in Refael Yoel Ozer’s eye sight, I thought about if we were to work on Shmiras Eynayim (guarding our eyes) from seeing impurities as  Zechus.  It could be a big step, like choosing not to go to a movie or a smaller step and not flipping thru the tabloids as you stand in line at the grocery. Unfortunately, there are no shortages in today’s world of finding something to protect our eyes from.    The next few days are extremely important. Refael Yoel Ozer, will be meeting with specialist and eye surgeons to try and determine the severity of the injury.  I truly believe we have the ability to help this precious baby boy.
Today, we spent most of the day at clinic.  Some hospital out patient days are just as long as being in patient.  Today, was one of those days.   Today, Benny decided he wanted to make his debut in wearing a Yalmuka and took off his hat.  He is fully aware that his hair is growing in and I guess he’s proud of it and wants to show it off. It’s fascinating how he knows the difference. 
We are now in a month, Adar that represents Simcha (happiness).  We are so ready to welcome that Simcha into our home and invite it to stay for good.  We also wish it upon all those reading this, in your home. 

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