"I will give away all my money! Just please tell me how I can make things right!”
“How do you pronounce your name? Brokie?”
“It’s pronounced Brochie. But you can call me Brokie, that’s fine.”
The woman asking about Brochie’s name was a patient in the oncology ward receiving chemotherapy.
“Brokie, are you Jewish?”
“I’m Jewish, too!”
This was the beginning of an unlikely friendship between Brochie, a young nurse in the oncology unit, and Shirley Rosenstein (names changed), a cancer patient. Unfortunately, Shirley’s condition deteriorated, and the doctors began talking about putting Shirley in hospice.
One day, Shirley asked Brochie, “Do you have any children?”
“Thank G-d, I have two children. A little boy and a girl.”
Hesitantly, Shirley asked, “And your husband is Jewish as well?”
“Yes, he is. He learns Torah the entire day. He’s going to be a rabbi and a teacher of Torah.”
Shirley burst out crying.
Brochie was distraught. “What’s the matter? Did I say anything wrong?”
Shirley began to unburden herself. “Brokie, I’m 74 years old. I know I have incurable cancer, and it’s just a matter of months at most until I leave this world. I’m sure you’ve noticed that I have no family members. My parents both survived Auschwitz, and I was born in 1948, right after the State of Israel was declared. I was my parents’ hope for a better future for the Jewish people. Both of them came from large chassidic families, yet the Nazis murdered all of their siblings. I was their hope and their pride. I was their legacy for the future.
“In 1969, I went the way of so many Jewish youths, off to San Francisco. I met a non-Jewish man there, and with my spirit of rebelliousness, and against all my parents’ pleading, I married him. My parents, who had dropped their chassidishe lifestyle in America, nevertheless sat shivah for me. They wouldn’t talk to me for years. We reconciled only ten years later when I divorced him. However, it was never the same. You can’t make up for the lost time. And I never remarried, so I have no children.
“My parents died six months apart in 1981. And now I am dying.
“I am leaving this world without any descendants.
“I am leaving this world having destroyed my parents’ lives and causing them to sit shivah.
“I am leaving this world broken and all alone.”
Shirley began sobbing so loudly that all the nurses turned to see what was going on.
“Brokie, you are close to Hashem. Please, please tell me what I can do before I die to somehow make it up to my parents. Please help me!”
Brochie sat there stunned. She had no idea what to say.
Again Shirley pleaded, “Brokie, please tell me. I will give away all my money! Just please tell me how I can make things right!”
Brochie sat quietly. Then she thought about her friend Sorah Leah who was getting married the following week. Sorah Leah had confided in Brochie that her parents were still short $25,000 for the chasunah and didn’t know what to do.
After a pause, Brochie said, “Well, there is one thing you can do. You can help marry off a Jewish girl and help her build a Jewish family. That will make you a partner in building a new Jewish home.”
Shirley was estactic. She immediately asked Brochie for her purse, pulled out her checkbook, and asked how much to make out the check for.
Shirley covered the entire $25,000.
As she handed the check to Brochie, she asked, “By the way, what is the name of your friend?”
“Her name is Sorah Leah.”
Shirley broke down, and once more tears streamed down her face.
“Shirley, what’s the matter with her name?”
Through her tears, Shirley choked out, “My name is Sorah Leah!”
(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 895)
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