April 21, 2024
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April 21, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

I was privileged to meet a real life angel in my lifetime. Someone whose smile would light up a room and was infectious. Someone who both children and adults gravitated to like a magnet. Someone who was so deeply dedicated to her family, friends and job that she would do anything for them at the drop of a hat. Someone who cared deeply about her sports teams, and even though they weren’t the best she never gave up on them. That someone was Tova Feldstein.

I was lucky enough to call her one of my best friends throughout middle school, high school and beyond. She was the great unifier. If she ever saw people who were upset at each other, she would do everything in her power to help them make peace. I was lucky enough to have my children call her Auntie Tova and to spend each Chanukah and birthday with her. She was a very instrumental part of my entire family’s life.

Tova in English means good, and to say that she was a good person is an understatement. She had a heart that never stopped giving to anyone she came into contact with. During the day, she worked at the Jumpstart program at the Stamford JCC, which was specifically meant for children with developmental disabilities. Even though at times her job was difficult and exhausting, she always spoke about the kids as well as her coworkers with the greatest of pride. She was always looking for new ways to help her students grow and relate to them. Although she was born with a congenital heart defect, one would never know because of how giving and full of energy she was. She used that challenge as a motivation for herself throughout her life.

At her standing room only funeral last week there was nothing but love in the room. She was eulogized as everyone’s best friend and family member, because that’s how she made everyone feel.

Her death came at around the same time as Tu B’Shevat, the New Year for trees. It’s always strange celebrating Tu B’Shvat in America because it’s that time when it is cold and there may be snow on the ground. However, under all of that snow the sap of the tree is beginning to rise, getting ready for spring. Tova was an “etz chaim,” a tree of life that never stopped giving. Even under the most difficult of circumstances she would not get discouraged; rather, she would blossom under even the most harsh “weather conditions.” She would always be thinking, “how could I overcome this?” Or “how could I help this person succeed or feel better?” Always persevering rather than getting discouraged.

There is a saying in Judaism, “Gam Zu L’Tova,” which translates to “even this is for the best.” Tova saw the best in every person and every situation. She was a beacon of positivity and she literally radiated light. Each day we had her with us in this world was a miracle and I think I can say that everyone was grateful for each and every single day. She lived every day to its fullest, was always up to try something new, and was always early to wherever she was going, which showed her eagerness to spend time with her friends, family, community and coworkers.

There are so many lessons I can take away from my 24 years of friendship with Tova. The one that will definitely stick with me is “Gam Zu L’Tova”; no matter what she encountered she always had a positive perspective. I will live every day to its fullest and try to have more of a positive attitude even in the face of adversity.

Tova, on behalf of your friends, family, community, coworkers, and anyone you had an interaction with, thank you for sharing your shining light with us all. Each encounter was a blessing, and we will try to live our lives “Gam Zu L’Tova.”

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