Strength in Community: Women's Prayer for the Healing of Netanel Felber

Tags: Living Beyond Terror, Terror, Judi Felber, Jewish Unity

By Dr. Elana Yael Heideman

Gathered under the glowing Chagall windows, women from across Israel joined together for a truly special Rosh Chodesh gathering at Hadassah Hospital. Welcoming the month of Shevat - a month of renewal - voices gathered in prayer and in song for the healing of Netanel Ilan ben Shayna Tzipora, and for the continued strength of his family and particularly his mother, our friend, Judi Abramson Felber.

Women pray alongside Netanel's family - Esty Dziubov, Tazpit News Agency

Judi served as our Communications manager here at Israel Forever for 2 years, inspiring hundreds of thousands of Virtual Citizens of Israel with our content, programs and initiatives in our weekly mailings. Her love for the people, the land and the heritage of Israel came through in everything she did. When her youngest was inducted into the army, she shared her pride and her fear in a personal story as an American mom in Israel, facing a whole new set of realities.

Extraordinary women, extraordinary place - Esty Dziubov, Tazpit News Agency

Now, Netanel lies fighting for his life, battling to survive from a brain injury after being shot multiple times by a terrorist who stole the lives of two other young soldiers that day.

Judi’s worst fears are now real. Like so many mothers of Israel before her, like other mothers of Israel after her...

Netanel’s family seems like a pillar of strength, as they welcome the many guests who come from near and far to visit, pay respect and bring comfort to the family of this son of Israel. But only other families of victims of terror can know just how hard it is to get through day after day of hoping, praying, awaiting small signs that hint of movement towards the healing of the loved one, battling to survive.

The Felber women continue to smile - Esty Dziubov, Tazpit News Agency

The prayers and messages received from around the world are a testament to the collective heart of the Jewish people. And since we know the power of prayer and community, we wanted to do something special to honor Judi, an Eishet Chayil, Woman of Valor, whose smile, like Netanel’s smile for those who know him, is a demonstration of her determination: we will not live in fear, we will not give up hope, we will not allow even the worst of circumstances to break our spirit.

Anyone in attendance could not help but feel inspired by the inspirational words of Rebbetzin Shoshie Pool and the beautiful singing by Chana’le Fellig-Harrel and longtime friend of Judi’s, Liz Kruger. The significance of the location was not lost on anyone as we sat below the glowing colored light of the Chagall windows in the Abbell Synagogue of Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital - each window representing one of the twelve tribes of ancient Israel.

As she shared the history of these works of historical art, Barbara Sofer, of Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization, highlighted the inheritance we receive as women from the song of Miriam - about whom we read in Parsha Beshalach - which did not begin during the exodus from Egypt, but rather long before, invoking a vision, a dream of what would come ahead: the return to our homeland. Much like Judi and most of the women in attendance, they, too, had prepared their song of strength before lifting themselves from their life in the Diaspora to build anew here in the Land of Israel.

Love and hugs - Esty Dziubov, Tazpit News Agency

And here we stood united - completing the reading of the entire book of Tehillim, singing Hallel, sharing blessings for peace, hope and healing, and even dancing together with resounding Am Yisrael Chai - to lift the spirits and renew our strength just as we renew the month and with a sincere goal in mind: the wellbeing of this young soldier, this youngest son, this Ben Yisrael, this symbol of both our strength as a people and our weakness against those who seek to harm and destroy us. But no - we will not let our will be damaged by the terror or the hate.

There are many victims of trauma from the ongoing terror with which we are forced to live as we fight for a life of freedom in our homeland, many voices we do not hear - of the injured, the families, the communities who band together to support those who need and deserve to feel connected with others during the painful recovery. For the Felbers, and the many families whose names you may not know, we see the proof that we are, indeed, stronger together.

These are a few of the comments we received from some of the women who attended this special service:

It was a most beautiful service- thank YOU for your vision and great effort to make it all happen. I think we gave Judi lots of strength, comfort and love. May all of our prayers merit a complete healing! - Liz Kruger

I had the special opportunity to be part of the Rosh Chodesh's tefilah in merit of Netanel's healing, a soldier who was shot in the head by a terrorist. In Argentina, my country of origin, I usually participate in tehillim prayers for refuah shlema from my home. I get the chapter to read, and I read it alone. I had never participated in a tefila as strong as the one that took place yesterday at the Hadassah hospital. It was a Tefila in unison, strong, with hope. A Tefila made by a group of women who believed they could do something that contributes to Netanel's refuah shlema.

I don't know Netanel personally but I met Judi, his mother, who carries the banner of love for her son in her smile. This is Am Israel. This is part of the millenial secret of how in the face of adversity, a minority like the Jewish people survived: by the union of their people, and their faith in God. - Paula Spiner

Being in Hadassah Hospital yesterday together with other people who had come for the same purpose of uniting Am Israel for the healing of Netanel, who was injured defending its country and its people was a very touching and emotional experience that I will never forget. Coming into contact with these kinds of events make me feel even prouder of being Jewish and being connected and united to a people that will always be together helping each other in times of joy or need. - Caroline Tessler

The women's prayer arranged by Elana and Miri was one of the most moving events I've ever had the privileged to film. There was so much love and hope and caring and prayer in the room that I pray it will ascend to Shemayim and Hashem will answer our tefillot with a refuah shelaymah for Netanel. - Yiscah Schechter

We continue to share ways that you can do mitzvot, pray for the healing of the injured, study the Torah of Israel, the history of Israel, and strengthen your connection to the heritage of Israel for the merit of Netanel and ALL the victims of Jew-hating terror. Toward that aim, we have crafted this very special bracha card for sharing with friends, communities, students, anyone to spread the mazal of good deeds and prayer.

As is customary in Jewish tradition, there are psukim (lines) of Tehillim that correspond to the first and last letters of a person’s name, ie נתנאל = נ”ל. Our hope is the four psukim for Netanel’s letters will be a call to Hashem for his continued healing. On the backside, the famous Prayer for Healing of the Chida, Chaim Yosef David Azulai. Please feel free to print, or share, and spread that love of Israel and Am Yisrael to all who are seeking the words to pray.

We would like to thank everyone who gave their time and energy to the creation of today’s special gathering for the healing of Netanel Ilan ben Shayna Tzipora and the support and comfort of his mother Judi and the entire Felber family.

Miri Schreiber is a longtime friend of Judi from their years in Greensburg, Pennsylvania, who made aliyah in 2012. She works at Yad Ezra V’Shulamit, a social service organization that provides over 3,500 food baskets each week to hungry people, educational enrichment and social support to thousands of impoverished families and children throughout Israel. It is Miri’s selfless passion that led us to the special guests to facilitate this special community prayer experience, and through her commitment that we were able to procure the tehillim sets for our collective reading and the very special red string, hand-wrapped from Kever Rachel and donated for this meaningful experience as a gift to Judi and the family. Miri has been instrumental to the planning of today’s gathering - may she and her family be blessed with continued inspiration, kavonah, joy and success.

Rabbanit Shoshie Pool has been educating women and girls for over twenty years, translated several books, and leads Torah tours all over Israel. Shoshie lectures extensively in the Tanach department of Beit Yaakov HaRav Wolf in Bnei Brak and Mercaz Beit Yaakov of Jerusalem in addition to her women's study groups and is currently studying to become a Toenet Rabbanit. Founder and Chair of Keren l'Bodedot, an organization which focuses on providing support to widows, divorcees and women who live in Israel with no family or support. We are so grateful for her involvement in today’s program, we hope you will please consider a donation to this grassroots effort of women helping women and sister helping sister, making sure that no Jewish women ever feels alone or abandoned.

Chana'le Fellig-Harrel is a mom of two, and a Jewish rock star. A singer-songwriter and Olah Chadasha, she lives in Bet Shemesh where she produces children’s videos and writes music for Jewish singers from her home recording studio. She plays piano and guitar and her songs, music videos and comedy sketches can be found on YouTube and her fans can be found worldwide. She has produced 6 of her own albums including the latest best-seller I Am The Land. Chana’le has generously offered her time and passion for inspiring the spiritual connection through song. We are so honored that Chana’le could join us to lead our gathering through the prayers and hymns of the past that strengthen our souls for the future.

Yiscah Schechter made Aliyah 29 years ago from Miami Beach, Florida. Her only regret is making Aliyah sooner. She lives in Jerusalem and does both still and video photography editing. We are so grateful to Yiscah for volunteering her time and capturing the power of the day for the Felber family to cherish for years to come.

Hadassah Women’s Zionist Organization was founded in 1912 by Henrietta Szold and is one of the largest international Jewish organizations, doing incredible work raising funds and inspiring action towards community programs and health initiatives in Israel including the Hadassah Medical Center, a leading research hospital in Israel renowned for its inclusion of and treatment for all religions and races in Jerusalem. We are deeply appreciative to Hadassah for providing the space for our gathering in the Abbell Synagogue under the awesome Chagall windows. Special thanks to Barbara Goldstein and Barbara Sofer and their staff for their support in making the event possible.

Special thanks to Chana Schiffmiller who designed our very special gift for Judi on behalf of our Israel Forever family, and Natalie Leichtman who made the beautiful bracha card and other graphics for the event.

Ana B'Koach gift to Judi - Esty Dziubov, Tazpit News Agency

May Hashem bless us to always be on the giving side and fill our days with chesed, Torah and Tefilah.

About the Author

Dr.  Elana Yael Heideman
Dr. Elana Yael Heideman, Executive Director of The Israel Forever Foundation, is a dynamic and passionate educator who works creatively and collaboratively in developing content and programming to deepen and activate the personal connection to Israel for Diaspora Jews. Elana’s extensive experience in public speaking, educational consulting and analytic research and writing has served to advance her vision of Israel-inspired Jewish identity that incorporates the relevance of the Holocaust, Antisemitism and Zionism to contemporary issues faced throughout the Jewish world in a continuous effort to facilitate dialogue and build bridges between the past, present and future.

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Tags: Living Beyond Terror, Terror, Judi Felber, Jewish Unity