IN CHANA'S MEMORY

 

Kolel Avreichm - Ohel Chana Chana's Touch - Portland OR
Ten Yad Chinese Auction Sefer Torah - RSF, CA
N'Shei Chabad Newsletter Hebrew School - RSF, CA
Chabad ELC Tribute Chana's Garden - Glastonbury, CT

N'Shei Chabad Newsletter

Oh Chana!

by Dini Morosow
They were all there – her husband, sisters, parents, grandparents, and classmates. In-laws, neighbors, aunts, friends, cousins… they stood together silently, broken, lost in thought. Only she wasn’t there.
I was present too, watching on a laptop in Central America, along with dozens of others who had logged on from around the world, from wherever their summer travels or Shlichus commitments had taken them. Classmates I hadn’t heard from in years posted comments alongside the broadcast screen. It was midnight for some and daybreak for others – but they all made sure to be there for Chana.
Behind the podium stood a huge portrait of Chana on her wedding day. It felt strange that she herself wasn’t there; I half-expected her to walk into her own Shloshim gathering.
Chana is alive and vibrant in my mind. As I whisper her name, I hear her loud and boisterous chatter. I hear her giggle and her shower of compliments. END LARGE INTRO
“Many of you may be wondering why you never got to visit Chana in the hospital,” related Dr. Karen Moody, Chana’s dedicated oncologist. Dr. Moody and her team of nurses showed up at the Shloshim to share in the family’s pain and to express their own grief at the loss of a most beloved patient. “She just didn’t want you to see her in pain. She loved you too much to let you witness her toughest moments.”
Dr. Moody told of Chana’s efforts to get dressed up and apply makeup for her visitors, especially for her husband, Shmuly. She recounted the many gifts Chana sent from her hospital bed – for weddings, for showers, for engagements, and for birthdays. Friends who didn’t expect to hear from Chana in her life’s most painful and critical weeks were moved to tears when she called them for their special occasions. She would apologize for not being there and for being out of touch. When she couldn’t actually call, Chana made sure to send flowers – or have someone send them for her. Always with a note, “I’m so happy for you! I’m sorry I can’t be there… Love, Chana.” After the shiva, Chana’s family found among her belongings a collection of cards that she had saved to send to friends and family for their important occasions.
Nava writes: As childhood friends and neighbors, Chana and I grew up like sisters. We always played, traveled, and went shopping together… and she always knew how to fargin wholeheartedly. She never begrudged anyone; she was happy just to know that someone else had it good.
Nina writes: At my Shabbos Kallah, Chana and I were talking, and she wanted to know if I still needed anything before the wedding. I mentioned to her that I still needed a coat to wear under the Chuppah. She happily exclaimed, “Oh, my grandmother has a mink coat, and I know she lends it to kallahs sometimes… I will find out if you can borrow it – I think it will fit you nicely!” About an hour after Shabbos, I got a phone call, “Nina, I have the coat – is it okay if I come by to drop it at your house now?” I later heard that Chana had actually made plans to go out with friends that night. She postponed her plans so that she could help a kallah have one less stress before her wedding. I proudly wore her grandmother’s mink coat under my chuppah, and I’ll always remember the beautiful way in which Chana made me feel special on my wedding day.
Shani writes: I remember Chana telling me a few years back that when her parents first got married, they made sure to have a sofa bed in case a guest would come. She said this in amazement, pointing out that right after their wedding, her parents were already thinking about others… She remarked that she would want to do the same in her own home.
Growing up on chesed, Chana adopted this approach almost naturally. What made her chesed unique was her incredible sense of detail and beauty. Always looking perfectly polished herself, Chana relished in sharing her touch and talent with others. She was quick to lend an outfit or an accessory, and many girls found themselves shopping in Chana’s closet. Borrowing a dress from Chana didn’t feel like you were accepting a favor – you were making her genuinely ecstatic by agreeing to look so beautiful! She’d glow with delight when asked to design a dress or give a shopping opinion. Any event she hosted or helped with had a unique touch of beauty and elegance – Chana’s permanent signature.
Chana P. writes: ... When hosting an event, she’d move from place to place, group to group, making sure that everyone was happy and well-fed.
With Chana around, things were bound to be fun!
Chana Kayla writes: I spent a summer with Chana in camp in Italy. She was so excited to tour and see new places; she made every moment so fun and full of adventure! She visited and worked as a Shluchah in Denmark, Russia, Thailand, Japan, and across the United States. Wherever she went, Chana left legions of fans – people who were deeply affected by her charming and gentle personality.
Chana got engaged on her 21st birthday, and her joy knew no bounds. She remarked that this was the best birthday present she ever received.
A little over a month before her wedding, Chana was diagnosed with a terrible illness. Shockwaves were felt throughout her wide circle of family, friends, and students. But Chana didn’t need us to comfort her; she was ready to take the challenge head-on. She purchased cases of the book, “Healthy in Mind, Body and Spirit” – a compilation of the Rebbe’s encouraging letters related to health and healing -- and distributed the book to all her doctors, nurses, and hospital staff, as well as to family and friends. She wanted us all to read it and remain positive. There was no room for darkness in Chana’s life.
She once walked into a bridal shower I was at, and the vibrant chatter suddenly turned to silence. This was only a short time after she’d been diagnosed, and most of us hadn’t seen her since we heard the news. We were at a loss for words; what could we say to a bride at her friend’s shower, when she herself faced an illness we were afraid to pronounce? Our fears were groundless, for we suddenly found Chana reassuring us. She began to read us a poem she’d found about a man’s conversation with G-d. As the man questioned G-d’s plan and purpose, he was encouraged to live each moment to its fullest, cherish his time with family and friends, and to know that Hashem is with him even in life’s toughest moments. Our Chana hadn’t changed; she was still comforting, consoling, and adding life and sparkle to a bleak situation.
On Chana’s wedding day, her face shone with renewed brilliance. Having traveled a long road to reach this moment, she looked glorious in her bridal attire. Hundreds of friends and relatives traveled to be there for Chana, sharing in her joy as she’d always shared in theirs. The simchah was tangible, and the dancing on that Rosh Chodesh Kislev lasted late into the night.
In the months that followed, as her illness resurfaced, we didn’t hear much from Chana. It was almost as if she kept us out, wanting us to think that things were okay. Her absence at simchahs and events was the clearest indication that something was very wrong. It was unlike Chana to miss her friends’ special milestones.
Even as we formed weekly Tehillim groups and organized class trips to the Ohel, we refused to believe that things were as bad as they told us. We’d never seen Chana in a state that was less than perfect; it didn’t make sense that she was the one who needed our help now.
On the ninth of Tammuz, the news of Chana’s passing came as a piercing jolt to hundreds, bringing summer vacations and camp experiences to sudden halt. This couldn’t be true; our Chana couldn’t be gone.
A few days after Shiva, I got the following letter from a classmate:
Dear Friend,
As I sit here teary-eyed, I can’t help but think how life is so delicate, how we really have to savor each moment, appreciate what we have and those we care about. Chana loved to compliment and help others. She strongly believed that our lives are much richer when we give to others. If we can take a moment of our day to compliment someone… it may mean the world to them.
As I looked at the crowd gathered at this Shloshim event, I suddenly remembered the phone calls Chana would make before every simchah and class event. She believed that a simchah was everyone’s simchah, and an important event was everyone’s business… and Chana always made sure to be there.
Our world had lost a friend, and we were gathered there to mourn the impact. We felt that Chana was there, too – it was an event she would never miss.
In Chana's honor, a luxurious new bridal suite is being built and dedicated at the Crown Heights Mikvah. For details, visit www.chanastouch.com. We thank Chana Prus, Rivky Lokshin and Shani Ehrentreu for their assistance in putting together this article.

 

The Raskins received this letter during Chana’s shiva.

Mr. and Mrs. Raskin,

I had the pleasure of knowing your daughter, Chana, through the Chabad Early Learning Center. Chana was my daughter, Sarah’s, teacher during the 2006-2007 year. Chana was a warm and loving woman who always had an inviting smile and hug for all of her students. Chana was Sarah’s main afternoon teacher, and Sarah would come home almost every day with a story of a new game that Chana played with them or a song that she taught them.

On the last day of school, Sarah was having a rough time. She would not be going on to Pre-K with the rest of her class. Sarah would be going to Kindergarten and a new school. She didn’t want to leave the comfort of Chabad ELC. Chana gave Sarah a hug and one of her beautiful smiles and told Sarah that Sarah would always have her friends and Morahs at Chabad ELC. As always, Chana had a way with the kids, and that smile, that hug made Sarah feel better.

Sarah and I also attended Chana’s wedding to Shmuli. It was so special for Sarah to share in such a wonderful simchah with her Morah and her class.

Chana touched many lives of the students and parents at the school and she is greatly missed. We are so sorry for your loss.

Nicole Rothschild and the DiPietra Family