Rivky Berman, a young woman who battled serious illness while serving as a Chabad emissary, passed away Monday. Rivky’s pluck and perseverance, her larger-than-life attitude in the face of great challenge, made her an inspiration to many. She was 29.
Born in Stamford, Connecticut, to Chabad representatives Rabbi Yisrael and Vivi Deren, Rivky reflected profound idealism. Her desire to lead and to impart positive values, opening up about her struggles through blog posts and even video recordings, while focusing on her life’s calling as an emissary of the Rebbe, moved many to make positive change in their own lives.
One of several siblings who were born with Blooms Syndrome, Rivky experienced inhibited growth and susceptibility to life-threatening illness. Still, she determined to focus on the positive: “I dealt with it, I am here, and I have an incredible life . . .,” she said in a video
In 2012, after a successful lung transplant, Rivky married Rabbi Shmulie Berman. The great-granddaughter of Chabad’s pioneering emissaries, Rabbi Sholom and Chaya Posner who were sent by Rabbi Joseph I. Schneersohn to establish a Jewish educational infrastructure in Pittsburgh in the 1940s, Rivky and her husband determined to follow in their path.
They couple moved to North Carolina where Rivky had earlier awaited her lung transplant. There they helped with undergraduate programming at Chabad of Duke and were instrumental in the founding of Chabad at North Carolina State University.
When diagnosed with lymphoma in 2015, Rivky continued to work from her hospital bed, coordinating community events and outreach activities. Rivky recently joined the Ruderman Chabad Inclusion Initiative advisory committee which advances inclusion for people with disabilities.
Rivky Berman is survived by her husband, her parents and her siblings: Rabbi Yossi Deren, Rabbi Asher Deren, Rabbi Chezky Deren and Chanie Backman. She was predeceased by her siblings Shlomo Aharon Deren, Blumi Deren, and Rabbi Mendel Deren.