With the opening of Sefer Vayikra this week, the theme of korbanot—the offerings brought in the Tabernacle and Beit Ha’Mikdash—takes front and center stage in the life of the Jewish people. Though we no longer have korbanot as part of our daily ritual, Aleza brought her own offerings, both to Hashem through her deep emunah and her love of and devotion to mitzvoth, as well as through all that she gave of herself every day to the Moriah family.
There was nothing she wouldn’t do for our children, for the staff, for the parents, for the school. Always looking for ways to make the daily operation of the school smoother, more efficient, safer, friendlier and warmer, Aleza never ceased thinking about and worrying about others. Her all-too short life was dedicated to chesed—loving kindness. Ask her to do anything: to cover for someone, help out with an event here, an absent staff member there. You didn’t have to wait for Aleza to jump in and offer to help. The only “shortcoming” Aleza had was her inability to say “No.” Her watch word was, “Hineni,” “Here I am, tell what is needed, tell me how I can be of help.”
There couldn’t be a finer example of a Nediv Lev—one who gives with a willing heart, the expression which is repeated throughout the last several Torah readings.
I remember well the first time I approached Aleza with the offer to join the Moriah staff as receptionist. She didn’t ask about remuneration, she didn’t ask about work hours, or how many days of vacation she would receive. Aleza, in fact, cut me off in the middle of my sentence and responded: “I’d be honored to work for Moriah.” That was Aleza.
And when she took over the position, Moriah found it hired much more than a cracker-jack receptionist. We gained a social worker, a mother-in-residence, a therapist, a confidant, a strategist and administrator all rolled into one. If I can take the license to paraphrase the opening of parashat Terumah, Aleza’s presence wasn’t merely in Moriah; her presence was within each of us, “b’tochaynu,” and there is not a staff member, child, or parent whose heart she did not touch.
Zach, Ariella, Avi and Josh.... We know how much your mom loved you; we know how much it meant to you that mom was in school with you every day. We can’t take your mom’s place or replace her love, but we want you and your dad to know how much we love you and that we—the entire Moriah family—are all here for you, by your side in any and every way possible, not just today or next week or next month, but every day to come.
Aleza... your passing leaves us with an unfathomable void, but the life you lived—a life of chesed, grace and joy will continue to inspire each of us to fill that void with the majestic example of the life you lived.
Y’he zichraych baruch—may your memory always be a blessing to us.
Editor's Note: Donations in Aleza's memory are being collected by Rabbi Goldin at Congregation Ahavath Torah, 240 Broad Avenue, Englewood, NJ 07631, Memo: Fund-W. Funds are also being collected by Rabbi Ed Farber, from the North Miami Beach community where she grew up and her parents reside. Send checks to Rabbi Farber's Discretionary Fund (in the memo indicate 'Aleza's kids') to Beth Torah Benny Rok Campus, 20350 NE 26 Ave, North Miami Beach, FL 33180.
By Dr. Elliot Prager
Principal, The Moriah School