True Super Heroes

My son Nachshon was a hero, brave, courageous and above all good – he had the qualities society admires.

ESTHER WACHSMAN and her son Raphael 370 (photo credit: Courtesy)
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 society.
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 to.
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.”
My 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 are.
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 Nachshon.
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.