Racheli buried her father half an hour before her chuppah

For the first time, Racheli Astikenji relates her poignant life story, starting from her childhood in the Jerbi family household.

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Racheli Jerbi
Racheli Jerbi
צילום: Kupat Ha'ir

Racheli Jerbi was a young girl when her father fell ill with a kidney disease. Her childhood years were spent in the shadow of constant concern for his well-being, as he suffered from agonizing pains. As a teenager, it was very hard for her to see her beloved father, who had been in the prime of his life, undergo difficult treatments like dialysis, from which he returned utterly exhausted and crushed in spirit.

But one day, the phone rang with the news they'd so hoped for and anticipated- "We found you a kidney donor!"

He underwent the transplant operation, which was a resounding success, and life returned to a happy routine. "It was happier than the usual; we thought about all the years of pain and suffering, endless difficult and exhausting treatments- they were behind us now."

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During this period, Racheli celebrated her engagement, and she felt as though she was in the clouds, as though her dreams had come true: she had found her marriage partner, and she had received her father back, once again his old healthy and happy self.

But two months before her wedding date, Racheli contracted Corona. For two weeks she was in quarantine, cut off from the outside world. A few hours later, her father, who was in a high-risk category due to his transplant, began to complain of symptoms; he took a Corona test and it came back positive…

An unprecedented panic overtook the family. They tried to help him every which way possible, but after a few days, they had to bring him to the hospital. In the beginning, his condition was good, but after just a few hours it deteriorated to the point where he was brought to the emergency room.

"I was two weeks before my chuppah," says Racheli, tears flowing. "It was terrible. Abba's situation deteriorated so quickly, and three days before the wedding he was put into a medically-induced coma." And then the worst, says his daughter: "He was niftar half an hour before my chuppah."

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Simply unimaginable…"Right after my chuppah," Racheli cries, as she continues her account, "the whole family left the hall. It was so, so hard- within two weeks he was niftar. We didn't have the opportunity to say goodbye, or to thank him. For me it was incredibly difficult, as I was, so to speak, the person he caught it from, and also he died on my wedding day. I felt so horrible."

Racheli, a young woman who only just now buried her father, turns to us and asks for assistance. "My father was sick for years," she says, "and also my family lives in a key-money apartment [similar to a low-cost rental]. He was heavily in debt." Her mother and siblings are now bearing the brunt of this, and the burden is very heavy…

Embarrassedly, she asks if we could help- even with something small - to assist her unfortunate family and keep them afloat in their sea of troubles. Kupat Ha'ir, which has helped thousands of needy families, has set up a special fund for them. Let's participate now and help this family that has suffered so much- this mitzvah is calling to us…

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