Sometimes a bright light comes into your life for a short time. This is about such a light that was cruelly snuffed out in the blink of an eye.
A number of months ago I got a phone call from C.B. Davies, head of the Jerusalem English Theater community (JET). JET was getting interns from Amudim, a relatively new gap year program in Jerusalem, as part of their internship program. Davies had introduced the JET concept to the Amudim girls, and the idea was for them to work with the various theater companies as part of JET.
I surfed their website and discovered that this one offered some unusual and intellectually creative classes. Davies asked if I could use a few interns for our upcoming shows. I responded, “Absolutely!”
We had two performances coming up. A Raise Your Spirits (RYS) performance of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat in December 2022; and before that, in October, a performance of Mikva the Musical, Music & Monologues from the Deep, which also operates under the nonprofit aegis of RYS.
I was grateful for any help we could get, especially for Mikva, which has a small cast and crew – four actresses and five musicians – but includes several women who are disabled. We needed a lot of assistance with setting up, shlepping instruments and sound equipment, positioning chairs on stage, and more. We also needed an intelligent and efficient usher.
Davies sent me Adira Koffsky. Even before I met her, I discovered that Adira was a young lady with a sense of responsibility. She discovered that the date of our Mikva show fell on the evening of a school trip. But she wrote to me on WhatsApp, “I just talked to the head of my school, and she said I don’t have to go on the trip if I’m helping. So I’ll be there.”
Our casts fell in love with her.
In this age of “me me me” and selfies, Adira was a breath of fresh air. She was prompt, polite, modest and shy. I made a short video clip in which Gaby Shine, one of our actresses in both shows, joined us, and Adira agreed to have me only send it to her mother, Ann Koffsky, a well-known children’s book author and illustrator with whom both Gaby and I are Facebook friends.
Gaby and I both say hi to Ann, and then Gaby waves and says enthusiastically, pointing to Adira, “She’s really wonderful… I love your daughter!” Adira looks a bit embarrassed, gives a small wave and says, “You know who I am.”
In December, Adira joined us again, this time at a performance of Joseph. She walked into our dressing rooms, with 50 actresses ranging in age from seven to 71. Unlike the previous production, there was a lot of noise and happy chaos. Adira wasn’t fazed for a moment. I introduced her to everyone and said, “Just tell her how she can help you.”
An accident tragically took Adira Koffsky's life
DAVIES CALLED me after the accident that took Adira’s life late last week. She had been struck by a driver who lost control of the car during a rainstorm. We were devastated. When I notified our casts, there was an outpouring of grief and exclamations of how much they loved and appreciated her. In this era of emotional shorthand, our WhatsApp groups and Facebook pages filled with tears and broken hearts.
Yona Saslow Yakobovitz, of the Tofa’ah band in Mikva, wrote, “Moments we shared… mitzvot we shared. Smiles, purpose and kindness we shared. She cared, and I was grateful. It was a gift, a blessing to have had those few precious hours with her. May her neshama (soul) rise and her memory bring a smile, a mitzvah, a purpose, a meaning, kindness, love and more Light into this world.”
“Moments we shared… mitzvot we shared. Smiles, purpose and kindness we shared. She cared, and I was grateful. It was a gift, a blessing to have had those few precious hours with her. May her neshama (soul) rise and her memory bring a smile, a mitzvah, a purpose, a meaning, kindness, love and more Light into this world.”Yona Saslow Yakobovitz
Michele Gray Thaler, who performs from her wheelchair, wrote, “We are all heartbroken. Such a vibrant bright light snuffed out so early. No words.” Adina Feldman: “So very tragic – such a wonderful girl who interned for our Mikva show and was so lovely and helpful! My heart breaks for her family and friends.” Gaby Shine: “Just beyond devastated. Still too much to comprehend, let alone believe. Baruch dayan emet.” Myra Gutterman, my Mikva co-producer: “Our Shalva performance would not have run smoothly without Adira’s assistance. What a wonderful, quiet and helpful young lady.”
We got more of a window into Adira’s world when we discovered that she was not only helpful, kind and smart, but artistically creative. One of those from our Joseph cast who reached out was Gila Staum Seeman, who played Judah and had been trying to create a small poster to free little brother Benjamin.
Gila wrote, “Sometimes you have an idea but it’s the implementation that makes it work. I handed Adira lots of different-sized printed letters, scissors, scotch tape and a too-small poster board and asked her to do something with it. She promptly sat down in the corner of the crowded dressing room and worked her magic. Grateful that I had the chance to chat with her at the same time. May her memory be a blessing.”
Davies, who sent Adira into our lives for such a blessed short time, says, “Adira joined the JET internship along with three other girls from the Amudim program. She was always ready to help out. Each company she worked with, including Starcatcher, Encore, Raise Your Spirits, and Mikva the Musical, got to experience her light and kindness. Our whole community is devastated by this tragic loss.
“When I found out about Adira’s passing, which was a few hours before we were supposed to meet for our usual internship slot, I immediately thought of all those she was able to work with in the previous months and reached out to them. She did not spend that much time with each company, but I could tell that everyone was touched by her and they all felt that a light was snuffed out from under them.”
At a Tu Bishvat event at Chabad Baka this past Sunday, we performed two excerpts from our Mikva show and dedicated them to Adira’s memory. I am sure there will be many more projects that will carry her name in the coming years.
I watched Adira’s funeral, which was held in New York, on YouTube. (You can find it at: Funeral of Adira Rose Koffsky, BDE.) The heart-wrenching eulogies by her family members, her shul rabbi and several teachers, described her as a young woman who was quiet, yet who knew her own mind – who was “insightful, creative, a writer of both prose and poetry… with a special interest in fantasy… modest and caring and sincere and loving and intelligent… a free spirit… always seeking answers…”
Shy but independent, she decided to attend a gap year program that none of her friends would be going to.
I did not know that Adira was a writer and a poet. But I wanted to show our appreciation for her sacrificing her school trip to help us. So at the first show, it was bashert that I brought her a personal gift, a book I had translated from the Hebrew called In the Land of Prayer, Personal Tefillot from Israel in Turbulent Times (edited by Daniel Gutenmacher). The prayers and poetry were written after the destruction of Gush Katif, but one of them, by MK Hanan Porat, could be speaking to all those who loved Adira.
Master of the universe – Builder of the worldDeclare that You have beloved in Your worldHelp them to stand upright, wipe away their tearsDo not send them emptyaway from You…
May the light that Adira brought to the world continue to shine, and may her family, friends and teachers find the strength to continue and be comforted with beautiful memories. ❖