Remembering Chani Weinrott

Remembering Chani Weinrott

Thousands of us here in Israel shed a tear yesterday when we heard that Chani Weinrott had passed away. Over the course of the last 8 years she had become one of the most famous and beloved religious mothers in Israel, unfortunately her fame came from being, as she ironically described herself, a “celeb sartan”–a cancer celebrity.

At the age of 26, as a young mother of 3 children, doctors told Chani that she had cancer and 6 months left to live. Miraculously, Chani ended up living until the age of 34. And during the years between her diagnosis and her death, she squeezed in, as Rabbanit Yemima put it, 80 years of living into 8 years of life.

I had the privilege of meeting Chani once around 6 years ago. We were hosting a JWRP group from the United States, and a group of Israeli cancer survivors joined the American participants for the program. I had read articles about the famous Chani Weinrott, but I didn’t know she was among my guests until she approached me at the end of the meal and thanked me and handed me a present–a copy of her first book (one of 3 she would write over her final years, in addition to hundreds of articles and inspirational speeches she gave around Israel). We hugged like we were old friends…that’s what she was like.

Even though I didn’t recognize Chani until she introduced herself, I had noticed her from the beginning of the meal. It wasn’t possible not to! First of all, she was so gorgeous in her curly sheitl, but more than her stunning physical appearance she was gorgeous because she literally glowed with LIFE. With joy, passion, inner strength. Lighting up my living room like a soft-white light bulb. I could not believe that she was one of the cancer survivors in the group, she looked like the opposite of illness. She looked like one of the most alive people I’d ever met. And that was how thousands of people saw her.

A few weeks ago, I read an article by Chani in Pnima Magazine which moved me tears, and I planned to translate it and post it. Sadly, today, I am posting it after her death, l’ilui nishmata, may it provide an elevation for her holy and remarkable soul.

SOMETHING NEW IS BEGINNING by Chani Weinrott

Winter is here, the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting longer.

For mothers of small children, the winter is a kind of celebratory season during which, at 5 in the afternoon, we remove children from their swings and say in a motherly melody, “That’s aaaaalll, It’s already daaaaark, We have to go home and get ready to go to sleeeeeep.” And that way, we earn a little bit of evening, a little sitting on the sofa between the mountains of laundry with a cup of coffee that, for a change, hasn’t gotten cold. A little sanity, for G-d’s sake.

Chani with her husband and 3 children.

But these long nights scare me. The winter blues they call it? I don’t especially suffer from the cold nor from the excess of clothing in the closets. For me, coats are to die for. Actually “die” isn’t a good word. Coats are to live for.

I don’t know how this is for other people, but at night I lie awake in my bed, my body dead tired (oops, again I tripped over my tongue. Sorry, not “dead tired,” really tired. You know…) and the thoughts think themselves, stuck to one another.

These bedtime thoughts begin with a parade of the embarrassing events of my life, the Email I sent to an awfully wrong recipient, the photo my daughter sent to the Whatsapp group from work, the slipping that I slipped on the stairs in front of the whole neighborhood.

And from there my thoughts continue to my endless despair-inducing to-do list: the kids have lice, my oldest has a project to prepare, my middle child needs an orthodontist appointment, and I owe an insane amount of money to the publisher of my books, and I promised a visit to that person and forgot about it, and the skirt I sent out to be repaired, and it’s still there.

It drives me crazy when I think about my medical condition, preparing an imaginary slideshow of all the people I’ve known who didn’t survive this illness, and what will be with the children? What a sad childhood I’ve cooked up for them.

Darkness outside and darkness in my heart, until, in a moment of miracle, sleep saves me from myself and I fall into it until I awake to a new day. The stubborn light enters and creates morning for me. The kind of morning in which nothing has changed or worked out, and the embarrassing moments are still embarrassing moments, and the debt is still debt, and the lice have even multiplied, but despite that I have a song in my heart.

The morning makes me yearn to get up and heat up water for coffee. To begin, even if it’s not clear I will finish. A morning in which the monster that was on top of the closet turns out to be a coat. A morning in which painful longing turns into a song. A morning in which the terror of death rolls into the holiness of this life.

It’s something in the nature of the world. A force that comes in with the rays of the sun. The power of renewal, of sunrise, of starting again from the beginning.

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13 comments

  1. Beautiful, so sad but so beautiful. May she go before the Holy Throne and plead for the sake of all the mothers separated from their children that He send Moshiach, and reunite them with their loved ones.We too must daaven for the Geulah Shleima!

  2. Baruch Dayan Emet

    If I had more time, I think I would put all of my efforts in having Am Israel know about the big scam and big lie that chemotherapy represents. We all have cancer cells in us and if it gets out of control it means that we have to make changes in our lives and in our diet to give the body a chance to HEAL ITSELF !! Please watch this teen speak, one of many tousands..:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=qxZA_gbyQNA

  3. Here is another really great testimony of a women healing cervical cancer by changing her nutrition drastically:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2BqfbpAkE2I

    HaShem please help us make the right choices, please comfort us and please give us access to good and truthful information.

    • I am glad to read you in the mist of painful news
      Yes there are solutions to fight disease other than chemicals that poison the body. Most cancer victlms die actually of the co sequences of chemo who destroy the immune system

  4. Such a beautiful, inspiring, and very open person. Refreshingly and lovingly open.

    May her neshama have an Aliyah and May haShem comfort her family.

  5. The point is not to talk about cancer treatment here ladies. Its to see how another one of us mommies could picture ourselves coping and living with the dreaded illness whilst still having to take care of lice combing, laundry, dentists and all other required mommy duties. Its not fair to air your opinions here on what she could have done differently, you are not Hashem. Hashem decided to pick this beautiful rose for his garden in the shemayim and its your job to learn something for your own teshuva here. You are missing the point if you think this is about the disease itself. Its about living every day with Hashem. I am one to talk as I lost a spouse to the disease.

  6. I don’t think that the women who posted about alternative treatments were in any way blaming this person for her own death. Hashem gave her more years than the Doctors predicted so that she could inspire us all with her courage and attitude. And since we are not familiar with the details of her illness it is possible that her very frame of mind was a major factor in her ability to continue to fight. May her neshama merit a glorious reunion with all those who have passed on. We need the geula now!

  7. What this reminded me of was that there are so many people today living with cancer and surviving it also (survival rates are ever better thanks to better medical treatments BH, eg more women than not survive breast cancer now). Not all of these people are open about it. It helps to hear these stories because you never know who you will meet or already know who is going through it. Helps me at least to really be grateful for each day I’m given, every day of life is truly a miracle!

  8. I don’t think conventional medical treatment is better today than 40 years ago, except maybe for child leukemia.

    Most people on a conventional medical treatment don’t even know if they are on a palliative or cure treatment. They don’t even know that the conventional medicine has no cure for them.

    Most chemo-patients who are told they are “survivors” will get a secondary cancer somewhere else in their bodies at a later stage. BECAUSE they did not change anything in their diet nor lives. They were treated with chemo and/or radiation which is a poison causing damage to all the organs, including eyes, brain, ears, liver, kidneys..

    Cutting out some tumor without healing (not poisoning) the entire body does not mean the person has survived cancer.

    Chemo is highly CARCINOGEN !!

    https://www.chrisbeatcancer.com/high-dose-vitamin-c-protocol-for-cancer/

    I am really sorry to hurt anyones feelings with this. Each person deals differently with loss and everyones expression of pain should be respected and validated I think.

    Most people are not informed because of huge sums of money involved in conventional medical treatment and not much money can be made out of selling the right nutrition.

    There is no doubt today that eating a mostly raw, plant based, vegan diet, no sugar can reverse, prevent and heal cancer.

    May we see miracles..

  9. My father is an oncologist (and no he is not making huge amounts of money with it, in fact he does a lot of advising for free) and I’ve also worked with breast cancer patients and that was really not my impression of conventional cancer treatments at all. Instead I’ve found there to be these eating plans which get marketed as supposedly curing cancer which have been shown to make absolutely no difference whatsoever (not to say that eating right won’t prevent cancer, it’s shown to do that). I am open to what you say though because you are right that the conventional treatments are very tough on the body and yes can even cause further cancers (and lots of other health problems). I just also feel that there is another danger which is trying to cash in on the desperation of cancer patients with alternative treatments which have no evidence that they work at all and possibly delaying people getting treatment that may save their life. I know this was not the point of this post but since you Rachel commented on what I had said I really had to say this in response. Please Gd this should not happen to anyone but I think anyone facing any health challenge really need to be savvy about this. Also I really want to challenge the idea that it’s poor life style and diet only that causes cancer: it’s more complicated than that and it’s not anyone’s “fault” if it happened to them.

  10. Keren Simons

    On another topic, I heard Rabbanit Yemima Mizrachi say that she consoled Chani Weinrott’s daughter by the example of Binyamin who also grew up without his mother, Rachel. She said that Binyamin developed a special gift for dreaming because that was where his mother lived for him (if I understood her correctly). In the same way any child who has lost a mother learns to be a dreamer and that is a beautiful lesson (it was due to this that Binyamin merited to have the Beit Hamikdash built on his land). In fact it is connected to Chanukah also, the time to allow us to dream while watching the candles. I found this so incredible and it reminded me of how the memory of someone like Chani can continue to be a blessing to her family and maybe all of us.

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