A group of inspiring teenagers are currently enjoying a special journey to Eretz Yisroel as part of Chai Lifeline’s annual Wish at the Wall program.The trip is Chai Lifeline’s celebration of life for teenagers who have either completed treatment for cancer or are living with chronic illnesses or disabilities—alternating between the two groups each year. Each participant is invited to share the memorable journey with a parent.
Wish at the Wall aims to instill the teens with a sense of confidence, joy and hope—providing them with the full Eretz Yisroel “experience,” while accommodating their every medical need. With wheelchairs, walkers and respirators in tow, the group has traveled across the country, visiting Masada, the Golan and Kineret, as well some of the holiest Jewish locations, including the Kosel and Tzfas.
This past week, the teens enjoyed a special meeting with HaRav Chaim Kanievsky in Bnei Brak, who offered the group brachos and words of chizuk.
“It was amazing,” said Yehoshua Reidler of Baltimore, Maryland. “I felt like I was in the presence of the Gadol Hador – it was such an amazing feeling!”
“This trip has been the trip of a lifetime for my son,” said Rabbi Eliezer Reidler, Yehoshua’s father. “And tonight’s visit with Rav Chaim was the pinnacle of his excitement on this trip.”
Phil Roitman, of La Crescenta, California, who is traveling along with his daughter Rachel, said, “It was a very spiritual, moving experience. I was blessed to be there and receive all kinds of special blessings and felt humbled to be in his presence.”
“This is a unique and incredible experience on so many levels,” said Rabbi Shlomo Crandall, director of Chai Lifeline Midwest and trip organizer. “The medical needs of these teens, many of whom have attended Camp Simcha Special, Chai Lifeline’s camp for children with disabilities or chronic illness, are very complex. This would be a very difficult trip, perhaps impossible, to make on their own.”
Rabbi Crandall believes the highlight of Wish at the Wall is the friendships formed among the group members as well as the special parent-teen bonding over the course of the trip. “Wish at the Wall helps parents see the possibilities for their children,” he said. “In many cases, it changes the entire dynamic of the relationship and sets the stage for greater independence in the future.”
Chai Lifeline thanked the Hartman Family, whose foresight and initial support made Wish at the Wall possible, and whose foundation continues to take the lead on this and other Chai Lifeline programs in the Midwest.