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The First Yahrtzeit of Dr. Eli Schussheim

“Now that I’ve met you, I’ve changed my mind. Instead, I am going to give you the money for EFRAT”

Photo: Elchanan Kotler

The 29th of Sivan will mark the first yahrtzeit of Dr. Eli Schussheim, a”h. Dr. Schussheim was a medical genius and served as the personal physician for dozens of gedolei Yisrael, including chassidic rebbes, mekubalim, and roshei yeshivos. The menschlichkeit he exhibited combined with his skill made him one of Israel’s most sought after medical experts. But Dr. Schussheim’s primary lifework was the organization he founded and directed, EFRAT C.R.I.B. (The Committee for the Rescue of Israel’s Babies). He would often travel overseas to lecture and raise funds.

Legendary journalist Yisroel Katsover related that on one fundraising trip to the United States, the doctor hadn’t been able to collect the $10,000 he’d anticipated. Resigned, he decided to call it a day and fly back to Israel. But when he tried to order a cab, he was told that there were no vehicles available. Dr. Schussheim explained that he had a flight to catch, and the taxi operator, an Israeli who was friendly with him, said that he would see what he could do. A few minutes later, the taxi operator arranged to send Dr. Schussheim in a taxi with another passenger who was also bound for JFK.

During the drive, Dr. Schussheim found himself seated next to a wealthy businessman booked to travel on the same flight to Israel. When Dr. Schussheim told his fellow traveler about his work at EFRAT, the other man cried out in astonishment. “You’re not going to believe this!” he said. “A few months ago, my daughter was advised to terminate her pregnancy. We didn’t know what to do. I went to Rabi David Abuchatzeira of Nahariya and told him the whole story, and he unhesitatingly told us that she should go ahead and have the baby, promising that all would be well. Baruch Hashem, I have a beautiful new granddaughter, and I was on my way to Rabi David to give him $10,000. But now that I’ve met you, I’ve changed my mind. Instead, I am going to give you the money for EFRAT.”

Now it was Dr. Schussheim’s turn to be astonished. As soon as they reached the airport, the businessman, who no longer had a reason to fly to Israel, told the driver to take him back home.

As the year since his passing draws to an end, Dr. Schussheim is surely reaping the rewards of his life’s work. Because the zechus of bringing even one additional neshamah to the world is priceless.


(Originally featured in Mishpacha, Issue 916)

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