(photo credit: Courtesy of RivkA’s family)
RivkA Matitya (née Karin Zuckerman) passed away this past Friday at the age of 44, after a heroic five-year battle with cancer.
About a thousand people stood in and around the “Beit Hesped” at her Jerusalem funeral this past Saturday night as rabbinic leaders, friends, and family eulogized her.
In addition to those who attended the funeral, thousands of readers and friends from around the world who knew RivkA via her popular blog Coffee and Chemo (coffeeandchemo.com), left moving tributes and links to their own eulogies on the blog’s comment board.
Her blog took its somewhat quirky name from her habit of inviting friends to sit and talk with her over a cup of coffee while she received her chemotherapy treatments. Rather than see these painful, debilitating infusions as a burden, she turned them into precious opportunities to share time with friends which their busy schedule wouldn’t have otherwise allowed.
Remembered by all who knew her as a “people person,” RivkA used her illness as a platform from which to educate others and to support individuals and families living with cancer. In addition to her personal connections, she corresponded privately with hundreds of people who contacted her via her blog, giving them advice and inspiration about living with adversity.
RIVKA REFUSED to allow her cancer to define her. She would talk about it openly and would not shy away from discussion of her condition, but she discouraged excessive sympathy or despondency. Rather than sinking into depression or self-pity, she focused on the positive. She spent her time caring for her children, hosting guests in her home on Shabbat, teaching swimming, and passionately espousing a wide range of religious, political and educational causes.
A selfless and enthusiastic friend who was generous with her time and energy, many who encountered her considered her a friend even after the briefest of meetings.
RivkA (she always wrote her name in English with an upper case “A” at the end to emphasize that she preferred the biblical Hebrew pronunciation), is survived by her husband of 17 years, Moshe, her children Yaffa (16), Menachem Daniel (14) and Aliza (12), as well as her parents, Ray and Joan Zuckerman of Scottsdale, Arizona, her brother David, of Phoenix, and her sister Aviva (Lynn), of Jerusalem.
Along with her tireless work and leadership in many organizations such
as Yavneh Olami, one of the things about which RivkA was most passionate
was educating women about the benefits of breastfeeding. She was a La
Leche League leader and served as a tireless advocate and educator.
Because of her passion about the advantages of nursing, RivkA’s friends,
with the blessing of her family, are in the process of establishing a
breast pump lending center and consultation service – a gemach in her
memory called Meneket RivkA.
The name is a reference to Devora, the wetnurse of the biblical
matriarch Rivka, who is referred to in the Torah as meneket Rivka
(Rivka’s nurse), in a passage that describes how her passing was mourned
(Genesis 35:8). The name of the gemach was chosen because this specific
reference attests to the important role that nursing played in the life
of the biblical Rivka.
Contributions can be made to Meneket RivkA in memory of RivkA (Matitya)
bat Yishaya via the web by clicking the link posted on her blog
The traffic on RivkA’s blog has increased exponentially since her
passing, as people who were previously unaware of its existence are now
exploring it for the first time. Even in her passing, RikvA is
continuing to touch people and make new friends.
She will be missed by all.
David Bogner of the Treppenwitz Blog (www.treppenwitz.com) and Jameel of the Muqata Blog (muqata.blogspot.com)