Monday, / May 27, 2024
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A Wish Is Granted


BROOKLYN, NY—When Mishelet Lev—the Israeli branch of Make A Wish Foundation—contacted Snyr Cohen, a buoyant 15 year old who is in the fight of his life against leukemia, they got a request that threw them for a loop. Snyr wanted to visit the resting place of the Lubavitcher Rebbe, and to spend one weekend—Shabbat—in the heart of Lubavitch Headquarters, in the Brooklyn community of Crown Heights.

Perhaps hoping to coax a more “age-appropriate” wish out of him, Make-A-Wish asked Snyr for his second wish. “This is what I really wanted,” says Snyr, still grateful for the Rebbe’s blessing for his recovery 10 years ago when he was severely injured by a tractor. Snyr repeated his wish, and when his response was the same for his third preference, Make-A-Wish came through all the way: Snyr, who lives in Gilboa, not far from Jenin, with his parents and two younger brothers, age 13 and 6, got to spend Rosh Hashana in Brooklyn, joining thousands of others in what is possibly the most spiritually moving of Rosh HaShana services anywhere. “This has been such an uplifting experience for all of us—it is the most spiritually meaningful Rosh Hashana we’ve ever had,” says Snyr’s mother, Margalit.

Coming as it did after a year of terrible lows for the Cohen family with Snyr in and out of hospitals where he was being treated for an acute form of leukemia, and suffering the debilitating effects of chemotherapy, the week they spent with Chabad-Lubavitch in New York, says Margalit prayerfully, “will set us onto a much better track this year.”

Coordinating the logistics on the American end was Rabbi Shlomo Friedman of Tzeirei Chabad in New York. “Rabbi Friedman went above and beyond anything that Make-A-Wish had agreed upon with him,” says Yisrael, Snyr’s father. Sunday evening, several hours after their arrival, Rabbi Friedman contacted them, and on Monday morning he had two yeshivah students meet the family and accompany them all week on their trips around the city, to help out with the language barrier and show them their way around New York. Rabbi Friedman also arranged for a surprise visit by the popular Jewish singer, Avraham Fried, after learning that he is a favorite of Snyr’s.

Tuesday was wish day. Rabbi Friedman accompanied the Cohen family on their visit to the Rebbe’s resting place, known as “the Ohel.” Snyr, now contemplative and introspective, prayed quietly alongside his parents and brothers.

“It was a very, very moving experience,” says Margalit, choking back tears, of the family’s visit to the Ohel. Later, the family was given private time to spend in the Rebbe’s study at Lubavitch World Headquarters, at 770 Eastern Parkway. This was where the Rebbe spent most of his time, counseling people for nearly half a century. For the Cohens, the opportunity to spend time in this holy space gave them a new, inner strength and an optimism that they need urgently.

Rabbi Friedman arranged for the Cohens to share each of the festive holiday meals with a family in the Lubavitch community. “People have been so gracious and generous,” says Yisrael, “that we are moved beyond words.”


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