Aliza* was only twenty two. Her father, a prestigious university professor, and her mother, a comfortable homemaker, had earned their way into the elite upper echelons of Israeli society. None of that could help them now. Aliza had cancer. Her final months were being spent in the antiseptic corridors of Hadassah Ein Kerem hospital.
Like the heartbeat of electrical machinery thrumming twenty-four-hour white noise beneath the cool vinyl floors, fear hums a high-pitched silence between the lines of almost every word uttered in an oncology department. Most frequent visitors to hospitals are the relatives and loved ones of the ill. It is hard for their good intentions not to be subtly suffocated by the atmosphere they are stepping in to. Little fresh air is let into the metropolis of Hadassah Ein Kerem, to the fault of no one but fear itself.
But Milka Benziman, besides being Yad Eliezer’s courageous Director of Social Services, is also an artist. In bringing art into the hospital, Milka also brings hope. Hope was Aliza’s lifeline.
“I brought oil on canvas, water painting on paper, glass painting. Whatever Aliza painted, it was always filled with light, so much light. Her art expressed hope,” Milka remembers.
It may have been an irony that it was near Hanukkah, the holiday of light, that Aliza concluded her short life. But Aliza defied irony. During her final days, Aliza took a few hours to visit the small shopping mall adjacent to the hospital. She wanted to buy each of her loved ones a parting gift.
Milka received the silver keychain Aliza had purchased for her on Hanukkah itself. Aliza had requested that a poem be engraved on the small base:
“Patachti chalon l’olam ha’muar – I opened a window to the world full of light,
Takshiv, takshiv eich hu shar – Listen, listen, how it sings,
Im lo li, az vadai lach – If not for me, then certainly for you.”
To make a donation in Aliza’s memory, please visit www.YadEliezer.org/Chanuka.
*Name changed. Our thanks to Micky for use of her beautiful photograph.