OP-ED: How Having Cancer Changed The Way I Raise My Kids

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The following is an op-ed piece submitted on behalf of Alexander Kochman, a rabbi and father of 6 located in Givat Ze’ev, Israel:

Like any married couple with children, my wife and I have spent countless hours reflecting upon chinuch, the ways in which we would raise our children. We never anticipated, however, that I would get sick. And we never dreamed of the impact that would have upon our household.

When our daughter Faigy became engaged recently, our home was filled with joy. Almost immediately afterward, however, a shock sent our family spiraling out of control. After weeks of stomach pain, I was diagnosed with cancer. I became increasingly more sick until I lost the ability to maintain my job. My wife had to leave hers as well to assist me. Our daughter, the kallah who should have been in a wondrous phase of her life, turned her attention toward supporting her own parents.

Now, just two weeks before her wedding date, she is lacking almost all of the essentials necessary. She has not secured a hall, a dress, or an apartment to move into. She does not have furniture to fill that apartment. There are no words to describe my pain as a father, not only failing to support her during this time, but being the receiver of her support.

Of course I know that this is beyond my control. That parents with cancer can only do the best that they can, and accept that Hashem has chosen this challenge for their families. And it is a lesson to all of us: we are all given our limitations and we must find the way to raise our children to the best of our abilities while finding compassion for ourselves. But that does not eliminate my shame.

A hachnasas kallah fund has been started for Faigy, and Baruch Hashem we have begun to receive some help. We still do not have what we need but we are praying that Hashem will help us to surmount this challenge.

For whatever reason, Hashem has decided that I would not be able to fill the traditional role of a father in marrying off my child. However, Hashem is her father, and just as the rest of the Jewish People are his children, I pray that they will see themselves as this young kallah’s siblings, and bring her to the chuppah during this challenging time.

At this point, it is all we can hope for. And may we receive good news, that I should stand, healthy, with my younger children at their chuppot.

Donations for Faigy Kochman are being received here for the next two weeks until the wedding.


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