What I Learned from Rafael Elisha’s Cancer by his Mother, Devorah Cohen

What I Learned from Rafael Elisha’s Cancer by his Mother, Devorah Cohen

(Last winter, over 100,000 people across the globe signed a petition urging the FDA to approve an alternative treatment for 6-year-old Rafael Elisha Cohen of Houston. Tragically, last spring he passed away. Here are some thoughts his mother, Devorah Cohen, requested I post to share with you JewishMOMs)

There are many lessons that I learned from my son’s cancer and now that he is gone, I continue learning….

But these lessons stick out in my mind:

–How lucky we are to be part of the Jewish people, ASHREINU!!
–We can not plan our life…so cherish every moment!
–There are no accidents in life! (This is a hard one!) It requires a lifetime of working out the Emunah muscle.

Our son Rafael Elisha was stricken with a rare malignant brain tumor and after trying several mainstream treatments to no avail. We discovered that a cutting edge treatment that was not approved by the FDA might have the potential to save his life.

A massive, widespread campaign was launched to garner 100,000 signatures necessary to request that the FDA grant us permission to use this therapy.

That’s when Elisha’s name went viral around the Jewish world.

As a dear friend, Rabbi Gidon Maskovitz of Houston wrote to us:

“It is probably not an exaggeration to say that in Elisha’s merit the book of Psalms was recited tens of thousands of times. Countless individuals took upon themselves a new mitzvah or a hanhaguh tovah [good tradition], or perhaps accepted to perform an “old” mitzvah with new zeal. The very mention of his name elicited heartfelt prayers from the hundreds, if not thousands of people that were touched by his brief stay on this world.”

Rafael Elisha with his mother

Rafael Elisha with his mother

Mi keamcha yisrael!!! There is no greater nation than the Jewish people.

Throughout the 18-month nightmare Klal Yisrael around the world rallied around us with support and financial assistance, with home-cooked meals in our home and the hospital as well…

The Jewish communities near the hospitals that Rafael Elisha embraced us …in Texas, California, New York and later in Yerushalayim where we buried our beloved son.

So many organizations, rabbis and individuals around the world came to our aid!!

Elisha’s short life impacted and continues to impact so many people.

We would like to continue to do mitzvot leilui Nismat ..deeds for the elevation of our son’s soul.

Which is why we are introducting “Elisha’s brachos project.”

The acronym of Elisha’s name is Elisha Meir Hakohen which is MEAH or 100 in Hebrew and we feel this is a fitting way to honor his memory.

Here’s how the project works:

Participating children and adults place a sticker on the beautifully-designed chart for every brachah/blessing recited out loud. If someone answers “Amen” to the brachah, a second sticker can be placed. After earning 100 stickers, the poster can be entered into a special raffle.

Please help us spread the word about Elishas brachos project

Give it out to your kids’ schools, your shuls, and have your own family participate.

We will be having, bli neder, raffles on Rosh Chodeshes starting Rosh chodesh Cheshvan.

We would like to thank Rabbi Aryeh Wolbe director of TORCH for creating this beautiful and meaningful project.

May all the Mitzvot and kindness that was done for our family provide a zechus [merit] for all of am yisrael for a sweet, peaceful and healthy year!!!

May this year bring healing and Geula shleima!


Any organization or individual who wishes to participate in this project, or help out in anyway, should please contact zichronelisha@gmail.com, or visit www.zichronelisha.com (to download and then upload the brachos sheet)

Here’s a poem that I wrote with tears for Elisha

100,000 Angels

One bright morning my little flower
a storm was coming our way
And you were so strong and stood in it’s way

And Hashem rested upon you the spirit of wisdom and strength.
You stood so tall
With dignity and gracefulness above all

One hundred thousand voices calling out your name
One hundred thousand hearts beating
All the same
a million cries and prayers yearning in the dark
Oh, son, you lifted us to the highest heights
Higher than the stars
Your soul shines so bright

One hundred thousand people, reaching out to G-D
One hundred thousand whispers uttering your name
A million psalms and mitzvot floating up above
Oh, son you lifted us to the highest heights
Higher than the stars
Your soul shines oh so bright

Oh, the light shines so bright
Our eyes can NOT see that sight

One hundred thousand angels come to escort you, our son.
Elisha our hero
You tikun here is done

How fortunate we are that you have touched our lives


  1. BH

    to my dear niece Devorah
    it’s so inspiring to read your message on one of my most favorite sites – jewishmom.com
    we will never forget dear sweet Elisha & he will continue to inspire us with his heroic deeds! may you all have a wonderful New Year full of simchas בע”ה!
    שבת שלום

  2. Beautiful. Thank you. May you have no more pain!

  3. Dear Devorah,
    Thank you for sharing the story of your special son and hero,
    Elisha Meir Hakohen(AH”S)who was gifted to you and in whose name, mitzvot continue to be encouraged and performed. Thank you also for your stunningly beautiful poem. May you all be blessed with a beautiful and wonderful Shana Tova, full of smachot and brachot, בע”ה!
    In gratitude,

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