#3 Budowsphere 2015
It is almost Yom Kippur, and I would like to recount my Yom Kippur experience during the summer of 2004. My daughter Arielle attended school in Deal, NJ, and had been involved in a very serious car accident on a snowy, icy road that winter. She suffered a broken back with injuries so severe that she was taken to Children’s Hospital (CHOP) in Philadelphia where the surgeon operated on her for almost 11 hours. After the surgery, the doctor told us that he had repaired her back, but that there was some nerve damage that would cause her to limp. Although we were naturally upset that she would have a physical impairment, we were more grateful that she was alive and would walk. The day after the surgery he told us that he thought he could repair the nerve damage and operated on her again. After 5 hours, the operation was completed successfully, and we were told that Arielle would walk without any limp. Two days later she was walking around the hospital corridors. We were incredibly grateful to Hashem, and life went on.
Six months later, we were surprised to receive a call from the hospital. The doctor informed us that he had serious news- one of the blood donors whose blood was used for Arielle’s surgery had been diagnosed with AIDS. That meant it was necessary for us to bring Arielle back to the hospital to have her blood tested, and the results would not be back for a week. It was right before Yom Kippur, and we spent the entire week praying, fasting, and thinking, while feeling consumed with fear and anxiety.
On Friday afternoon we got a call from the doctor saying that we had to drive to CHOP to get the test results in person, since that was the protocol. I told the doctor that it was impossible for us to get there and back before Shabbat, and I begged him to give us the results over the phone. In the moment when he told me that the results were negative, I understood what Yom Kippur is really all about. I could never have imagined that I would be spending the days immediately before Yom Kippur praying for my youngest child’s life, begging the doctor to take pity on us and give us the answer via phone, nor understand how a split second could be so life-altering. This experience changed my life, and I hope that my story gives you some insight about what Yom Kippur really means and the impetus to think about what could be life-changing for you.
Rabbi Ira Budow