ESTHER WACHSMAN and her son Raphael 370.
(photo credit: Courtesy)
Society seems to find it necessary to define people and put them in their proper
boxes. You are “Right” or “Left” (rather than right or wrong, as the late Sam
Orbaum once said), you are religious or secular, successful or a failure, rich
or poor and so on and so on. Those who cannot be easily placed in a box are
strange, odd, peculiar, i.e: different.
My son Nachshon, may G-d avenge
his blood, was a hero, brave, courageous and above all good – he had the
qualities society admires.
Another one of my sons, Raphael, may he live
and be well, is in the category of “different” – not good in the eyes of
Raphael has Down syndrome.
He will not serve in the army,
nor will he have a family giving his parents grandchildren as my other sons do.
He is a quiet, lovely and lovable young man and a delight to those who care for
him, for he is one of G-d’s special children.
According to published
studies, 50 percent of society thinks that mentally challenged individuals are a
public danger, do not wish to live near them and do not want their children to
play with them. I shamefully remember Raphael, as a beautiful blonde, green-eyed
child with an angelic face and personality, being laughed at, at the playground,
the park, the zoo, every public place we took him and his “normal” twin brother
I remember how agonizing and heartbreaking this was, and still is,
for me. I cried and cried every time I took them on any outing. I would cringe
at other children’s scorn, their whispers, their smirks, their pointing fingers,
and my heart broke for him.
It was his twin brother who at the tender age
of four tried to defend him and shouted at these children – “My brother has a
soul from G-d, and you should just thank GD that he made you normal.”
hands shake and I burst with pride, knowing that my husband and I were
instrumental in enabling Raphael’s brothers to love him, care for him and
protect him just a little more than anyone else.
My wish is for all of
you readers, all of society to treat those among us who are slower, less
sophisticated (and thus less cynical), as the beautiful and pure souls they
Accept them, embrace them, love them, for they are your brothers and
sisters. Please show them the empathy and caring, the concern that you showed my
family in our darkest days, while praying for and mourning my son
I have made it my mission to be both of these sons’ voices, for
they have no voice. How exciting it is that The Jerusalem Post will from next
week provide a worthy platform for a unique joint project with the Shalva – The
Association for Mentally & Physically Challenged Children in Israel called
“True Super Heroes,” which is designed to promote tolerance and combat prejudice
against challenged individuals.
The True Super Heroes will feature as a
comic strip by renowned Israeli cartoonist Uri Fink.
These heroes and
their Herculean struggles to overcome their G-d-given disabilities do not always
make headlines, but True Super Heroes they remain.
Please join me in
being their voice! Share this project with your family and friends, and together
let us take responsibility for their joy and create a better future for all.