May 28, 2024
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Yeshivat Frisch Teshuva Program Highlights Impact of Prayer

At Yeshivat Frisch’s annual Teshuva Program last week, students and faculty had the honor of hearing from Frisch English department chair Dr. Meryl Feldblum ‘00 and her brother, Micah Kaufman ‘97. Feldblum recounted the story of Micah’s near-fatal car accident in Teaneck in December 2019. In the accident, a family friend, Shelly Mermelstein lost his life, while Micah suffered severe brain damage and was on life support. Kaufman’s family tenaciously refused to give up hope for Micah’s recovery, supporting him as he emerged from a coma and embarked on an intensive program of rehabilitation.

Feldblum highlighted the critical role of prayer in Micah’s neurological rehabilitation. For instance, Micah responded to the words of davening and liturgical music before he was able to engage in conversation about anything else. Feldblum spoke about how she witnessed the same phenomenon with a different frum patient in Micah’s rehabilitation center—a young man from Lakewood for whom the key to regaining the ability to speak lay in prompting him to recite brachot over food.

Feldblum noted that “Micah to this day remembers almost nothing from his ten weeks of inpatient rehabilitation, apart from the minyan that the West Orange community made each Shabbat.” She believes with certainty that the outpouring of tefillah for Micah’s recovery impacted her brother’s survival, though said that we cannot know why tefillah works in some cases but not others. “I do not have all the answers,” she said, “but I can tell you that I am 100% sure that tefillah changes us. It is embedded in our very being.”

After Feldblum’s speech, Kaufman himself took to the podium to impart several important lessons to the students. “First of all, never ever ever give up hope,” he said. In addition, Kaufman spoke about the many and varied chessed initiatives he has been part of over the course of his life, from serving on the boards of Sinai Schools and the local little league to becoming an altruistic kidney donor in May 2019. He described these activities “not to brag,” but rather to show that “no matter where you go, there are always opportunities for chessed.”

The program can be viewed in its entirety on Frisch’s Youtube channel.

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