Letter to My Dearest Friend

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By: Jordana Baruchov

To my dearest friend Nancy,

Can it truly be a year since we celebrated your 51st birthday? We sang, we laughed, we shed a few tears. Looking back, I am so grateful I had the opportunity to share your last birthday with you and close friends.

The months are going by…..It was just recently Kislev, a month of lights and orah, yet my heart remained dark and solemn. These winter months seem colder without your bright smile to warm me up. Your shloshim, Nancy, has now passed, and I am left bereft. I am still here, wondering where my dear friend Nancy is. I pass by your house every day and my heart sheds a tear, as your house is now just a shell, a home with no heart. Your life and light are no longer within those walls.

Every Shabbos, we would share our stories, our lives. Sometimes, the stories led to great laughter, and at other times, to tears. We had tender moments together, reliving the week just past and helping each other grow from our experiences. You were a great listener and a true friend, reminding me who I am and who I wanted to be. I think, and hope, that any advice I offered you was beneficial and helped you live a more fulfilling life.

Nancy, you were everywhere and everything. You were a light to so many. For years, you taught English to young boys, molding and mentoring them into the b’nei Torah they would grow to be. During the summer, your energy didn’t wane as you ran your day camp, always with a smile on your face. I remember, nine years ago, when we became a team at your camp. Every time I taught a bunk, you came in and listened as eagerly as the children. One teacher to another, you watched in awe. I always found it humorous since you were a master teacher yourself, yet there you sat, to soak in some Torah during your busy day. Though you taught English, it didn’t matter; you made a strong impression on all your students. You gave them the foundation to grow as a person. You gave them the skills for life and motivated them to strive higher.

The last few months of your life, you truly seemed at peace. Your steps seemed quieter and your smile seemed softer, but your spirit was on fire. To sit next to you in shul during Neilah was a privilege I will surely never forget. You uplifted the prayers of those around you, inspiring their tefillos to greater heights. When I shared that with you, you quickly responded how others inspired you!

My life had greater meaning with you in it. A shmoneh esrai isn't complete without davening for you. Challah baking isn't complete without my special prayers for your complete recovery. My daily Tehillim is not the same, nor my Thursday nights, which used to be filled with women joining together in prayer for you.

So what do I do without my dear friend Nancy? Helen Keller once said, “Walk with a friend in the dark, than alone in the light.” Nancy, to outsiders, for twelve and a half years, your life looked dark. For so long, you were plagued by cancer and so many would have focused on the negative, terrifying moments. You taught me to look toward the light. Without you, I will continue to be inspired by your outlook and emunah. I will learn to overcome the hurdles in my path, and I will try to do it with grace. I will try to focus on the end game and to grow from each moment. I will look for true simcha, and I will try not to become overwhelmed with life's challenges. Most importantly, I will always smile and greet everyone with a friendly hello, as you did.

Thank you for the time we had; I will cherish it always.

Love your dearest friend,

Jordana

 
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Jordana Baruchov

is the 6th grade Dean and a Judaic Studies teacher at Yavneh Academy in Paramus, NJ. She received her master’s in Jewish Education from the Azrieli Graduate School of Jewish Education and Administration. Jordana has been in the field of education for over 23 years, and has inspired children, teens, and adults through her lectures! Her passion for Torah, Mitzvot, and the Jewish people is evident as she continues to mesmerize her students and attendees at her lectures. Morah Baruchov, as she is known by her thousands of students, enjoys dancing and playing tennis, as well as baking. Seven years ago, she combined two of her passions, baking and the Jewish people, and formed the "Project Shabbat" initiative with her then-8th graders, delivering challah and kugel to the Israeli employees in the Garden State Plaza mall. She also enjoys giving shiurim in and outside of her community. Jordana currently lives in Clifton, NJ with her husband and children. To hire her for speaking engagements or for any questions, she can be reached at jbaruchov@gmail.com.