On Yom Kippur afternoon, we read from the book of Vayikra, the holiness code. As we concluded, the honor of dressing the Torah was given to a young 7 year old boy named Eli. As he placed the crowns on the Torah, accompanied by his parents, I watched his parents beam with a smile. Just days after Yom Kippur, we transition from the holiest day, with a sure foundation under our feet, into the sukkah, the most fragile dwelling we find in our tradition. Each evening, in our Haskiveinu prayer, we pray for a sukkat shlomecha, a blanket of peace above our heads, and over our hearts and souls.
For Eli’s parents, that small act of dressing the Torah meant the world to them. Eli, born in 2014, was diagnosed as a three year old with IRF2BPL, a currently nameless and rare disease, which only a few dozen children are known to have. All of Eli’s doctors have told his parents, “We don’t know anything about this disease. There is nothing we can do for him, there is no cure.”
Eli’s parents understand that we as Jews are assirei Tikvah, prisoners of hope. They understand that life is fragile, but they also have taken on the responsibility to help Eli and the children in the future that have been told hope is not an option.
As the ark closed at neilah, we sang shema koleinu, God hear our prayer. For some these are only words. But for Eli and our community, these are real prayers.
Sunday evening, we will enjoy scrumptious fall desserts in our sukkah. Let this be a reminder that the fragility of life is not only a metaphor, but for so many a reality.
Learn about Eli and his family HERE.
May this year be one of joy, happiness, health and peace for Eli, for us, and the people of Israel everywhere.