| Story Supplement |

The Day I Felt Hashem’s Embrace

Our Huge, Tiny Gift 

T. Nissim

I stroked his velvety cheek, a veil of tears clouding my eyes. Our new grandson, nine weeks premature, lay snuggled in an incubator in the hospital neonatal intensive care unit (NICU). He looks so perfect, I marveled — except for the maze of tubes and monitors connected to his tiny, four-pound body. How amazing that everything a person needs to reach full maturity is contained in such a small package!

As I kept vigil beside his crib, the walls heard my fervent tefillos, the whispers echoing in the thundering silence of his room. Rivers of hope washed over me as I davened, “zeh hakatan gadol yihiyeh,” and that he should give Hashem and his family much nachas.

And then it happened. As we watched our baby grandson’s slow but steady progress and started to dream of taking him home, the doctors and nurses told us that they were going to do a routine ultrasound on his head to check for a brain bleed, a common complication experienced by preemies.

“Even if we see a brain bleed,” they continued, “it usually resolves itself and doesn’t leave lasting damage.”

After performing the first scan, they determined that it was “inconclusive” and said they would repeat it in a week’s time. A week later, their report rocked our world.

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 781)


The Right Place at the Right Time

Chaya Rosen

My options were limited. Graphic arts, bookkeeping, teaching, special-ed… none of them spoke to me. The fact that I would attend the local post high school seminar (as seminary is called in Israel) when I graduated was a given, but I was miserable with the choices offered in the program.

Well, part of life is making do with your situation, and for several reasons, this was just what I had to do. Being 18 years old brings with it a level of maturity and responsibility, so I swallowed hard and registered in the program, choosing office management as my career track. I remember blinking back tears as I handed in my application.

The program started in September.

Every day felt like a never-ending ordeal. I hated every minute. The classes bored me to distraction, I didn’t feel productive, and every assignment and project set me on edge. Succos was a welcome break, but the turbulent and intensely negative emotions I felt when I returned to school worried me. Something was very wrong. Was this how I would spend the next two years of my life? It was affecting my mood and my attitude and was taking a heavy toll on me.

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 781)


Journal of Connection

As told to Elky Pascal

Talk about random.

I was a young, healthy, and totally regular teen. So why was I sitting in the emergency room at 3:00 am?

It began with a routine infection that wouldn’t relent. I had a high fever for days. After several rounds of antibiotics, my fever was still spiking. And so, I found myself in the emergency room one night. By morning, I was admitted to a room.

The timing was all wrong; the season was hectic. My friends were busy shopping for the new school year and approaching Yom Tov season. And I was stuck in the hospital. I received an IV line, and a strong antibiotic was administered. I was nauseous and sick from the medicine, and felt thoroughly miserable and lonely. Definitely a curveball in my life.

“Is there anything we can get for you?” my parents asked.

“Anything we can bring you?” my friends wanted to know. “What are you in the mood for?”

“Nothing,” I mumbled. There was nothing I wanted to eat and nothing I wanted to do. I felt very sorry for myself. Between my infection and the side effects of the medicine, I was in a fog of pain for the first few days.

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 781)


A Hug on a Platter

Rochel Samet

I’m a big fan of birthdays, especially mine. I haven’t yet outgrown celebrating my birthday and anyone else’s (if they remind me). I love parties and cards and cakes with candles and singing Happy Birthday off-key — what could be better?

I have great memories of my birthdays over the years… celebrating with family, celebrating with friends, special tefillos for a special day. But one year was a little different. I was visiting another city at the time, staying with my wonderful cousins who went through the trouble of buying a surprise birthday cake the Shabbos before the grand event. For the night itself, I’d planned to go out with friends — double the party, since I didn’t often get to see them. But the timing (Thursday night right before Yom Tov) was all wrong, and one by one, my friends apologetically informed me that they wouldn’t make it (or their mothers didn’t let!).

It was nearing midnight, and my cousins’ house was quiet. I sat on the sofa, playing with my phone and hoping that some friends would magically change their minds. I was hungry; we’d planned to eat out, and I was dreaming of sushi, pizza, ice cream. I got a bunch of happy birthday texts and tried to cheer myself up.

And then the doorbell rang.

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 781)


“Who by Fire…”

Rochel Burstyn

Erev Yom Kippur, 2017.

We lit candles; the menfolk left for shul. Suddenly, my front door flew open and my neighbor’s son ran in and on his heels some girls from next door.

“Get out!” they yelled, “There’s a fire in your backyard!”

Turns out, a live electric wire had fallen in our backyard and had burst into flames. My kids and I ran out barefoot (a different neighbor later lent us Crocs). A neighbor had already called 911. We watched the flames growing taller and taller. Finally, we heard the blessed sirens approaching. We found out later the fire trucks had hit construction and then rush hour traffic. We also found out later it had only been an 8-minute wait, though it felt much longer at the time.

The firefighters roped off our house and our neighbor’s house with yellow caution tape. The neighbors congregated and schmoozed (“Isn’t this something?” “The most excitement our street has ever seen!” “What a Yom Kippur!”) as we watched the ladder go up, up, up over our houses. The little boys were thrilled — one even got dressed for the occasion in his plastic fireman’s hat!

(Excerpted from Teen Pages, Issue 781)

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