April 8, 2024
Search
Close this search box.
Search
Close this search box.
April 8, 2024
Search
Close this search box.

Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

‘Inspiration and Song’: Personal Accounts of Tragedy and Renewal

Sorah Shaffren gives voice to the sentiments of those gathered.

On December 10, Congregation Rinat Yisrael in Teaneck opened its doors to host a stirring women’s community event with two very special guest speakers. Dana Cohen (pronounced “Donna”), widow of Aviad Cohen, HY”D, who heroically gave his life in defense of three Gaza border communities on October 7; and Yedidya Harush, decorated soldier of the elite units of the IDF and recently evacuated from Shlomit.

Rebbetzin Adina Weiner said: “It was really a beautiful event. Both speakers were so moving and inspiring. Dana Cohen said she felt the love and strength we were giving her; and we got chizuk from her. You really felt the love in the room. And especially with [singer-songwriter] Sorah Shaffren adding the spirit and sentiment of her musical gifts; so moving and helping us connect with each other and all of klal Yisrael as acheinu kol bais Yisrael.”

Shaffren, the director of Meorot, an all girls production of dance and song in Bergen County, noted: “Before we sang words from Tehillim/Psalms, I reflected on King David, who said of himself, ‘I am prayer.’ He had prayed so much that he felt he himself had become a prayer. It seems to me that we, the Jewish people, and specifically the Teaneck/ Bergenfield community, can truly relate to this sentiment.

“After Acheinu, Dana got up and said, ‘This was Aviad’s favorite song. His feeling of acheinu was the reason he ran to defend his brothers that day. This feeling is strong within each one of us. I can feel that same sense of acheinu tonight.’

Yedidya Harush shares his experience and perspective.

“There were a lot of tears,” Shaffren continued. “Almost all of the women lined up to hug Dana. Dana stood tall and exuded strength. Her presence here in Teaneck went beyond her own personal experience. The pain of our people was wrapped up in her pain. The longing to be menachem ovel (providing comfort to a mourner) to those who have suffered loss was felt. The simultaneous expressions of sorrow and hope, of grief and strength, of pain and love were all in that room, and the singing gave voice to these feelings.”

Rabbi Strauchler, rav of Rinat Yisrael added: “Dana Cohen in this moment best represents Israel to the world. She inspiringly shares the story of the Shlomit community and describes with grace and humility her sorrow amidst her husband Aviad’s heroic self-sacrifice. Our community has developed a relationship with the people of Shlomit through Dana and Yedidya Harush, as we help them rebuild the communities of Otef Aza. We hope to one day take them up on their invitation to celebrate Simchat Torah with them in Shlomit.”

Ida Plotsker attended the event, and shared her impressions. “The event was just what we needed during a very difficult time. I can’t think of an event in recent or distant memory that has touched me or moved me as this event did, like a salve to my soul. The speakers were beyond inspiring. I am amazed that so soon after their tragedy, they had the strength and courage to share themselves, their story, and their perspectives with us. They lost so much but they remain steadfast in their faith.

“These amazing survivors are heroes to and of the Jewish people. Their strength gives strength to all of us. I am—and we are—all part of klal Yisrael, and we have each other to lean on.”

Dana Cohen speaks of her husband, Aviad, HY”D, shown on the screen in front.

 

Leave a Comment

Most Popular Articles