אוריאל כהן
אוריאל כהןצילום: באדיבות המשפחה

Chana is the widow of Uriel Cohen, z”l, a precious IDF soldier who fell in Gaza. During the funeral, she described Uriel’s defining trait as his radiant countenance, evident in the photos featuring his bright smile, kind eyes and glowing face. “Chazal say that greeting another person with a smile is one of the greatest levels of giving,” she said. “There are times when a smile is even more valuable than money; it can be life-saving. Uriel, as his names suggests, truly lit up the world with his light.”

Chana remarked that during a funeral, we don’t just accompany the departed, but we are also called upon to acquire their positive traits. “May we all learn from Uriel and smile more to others,” she said.

“I know that during these difficult days, I’m supposed to feel like half a person,” she added. “But since Uriel fell, it’s been hard, but still I feel like one-and-a-half – Uriel’s soul is here, as is our wonderful Am Yisrael, which is surrounding us with love.”

Shaare Zedek Sets New Record

January 2024 saw Shaare Zedek Medical Center in Jerusalem delivering more than just outstanding care; they delivered a record-breaking 1,926 newborns! This blessed “baby boom” is thanks in part to the many families evacuated from the north and south of the country who have been staying in Israel’s capital city, and who also helped set last month’s record of 1,856 births.

From Poland With Love

I recently learned about a Shabbat program organized for the Jewish community in Warsaw. Rabbi Shalom and Dina Stambler, Chabad emissaries in the city, were heartened by the significant turnout. Contrary to expectations that the war in Israel and rising global anti-Semitism might reduce attendance, the opposite proved true. "We witnessed an unprecedented influx of first-time attendees to a Jewish event, drawing Jews from the local community as well as from Lodz, Bialystok, Katowice, and Krakow," Dina Stambler observed.

She also noted a profound awakening among Jews. "There's a newfound resolve to defend the nation of Israel and Judaism, and to stand against Hamas and anti-Semitism.”

She told me about various supportive initiatives: contributions to the IDF, individuals learning Hebrew, a young man organizing a major pro-Israel rally, and another expressing his own "one-man demonstration" by placing a mezuzah on his doorpost.

A particularly striking story involved two local businessmen, known rivals, who agreed to set aside their differences. They approached the rabbi, united in their eagerness, to aid Israel.

Remarking on the activities, a Jewish doctor in the community said, "If Hamas believed their actions would weaken our unity, diminish our connection to Israel, or curb our Jewish identity, they were mistaken. Since October 7th, these feelings have only grown stronger.”