Ayelet Galena: A Perfect Soul, Returned
by Maxine Dovere
Seth and Hindy Poupko Galena honored the memory of their beloved daughter, two year old Ayelet, and shared reminiscences of love and caring. Each word tore at the hearts of the thousands who came to share the young parents’ grief.
The outpouring of those who came to mourn with the Galenas mirrored their lives. Both are actively involved in both the Jewish and the wider community. Hindy is the Director for Israel and international Affairs of the Jewish Community Relations Council, Seth is a founder and editor of Bangitout.com, a Jewish humor website.
Tears flowed from the eyes of hundreds of the couple’s contemporaries who stood silently, sharing the grief of the young parents. Mourners came from New York and throughout the region – Americans, Israelis, members of every community – all were present to offer comfort to the family of the child whose brief life they grieved.
Ayelet Galena died January 31, 2012. The Galenas opened a window into the moments of their child’s life through a blog that they maintained. When she died, they wrote “With unstoppable tears and broken hearts we regret to announce that last night around 5 AM, after hours of fighting and holding on, our precious Ayelet – the heart of our world, the light and strength for so many, could not fight any more. She is gone.”
Please help. Please pray, her father had asked, only hours before.
Ayelet Galena fought for all the days of her life through the strength of the love of her parents, her family, her community and the thousands she touched. Through the blog, Ayelet’s parents allowed her moments, special and ordinary, her smiles and, just once in a while, their tears, to become everyone’s.
Her mother revels in the baby’s first solid food, and later, shares a precious first birthday party. Images documenting Ayelet’s waning childhood fill the posts that follow. The courage of the parents and their never ceasing calm and valor are compelling. The Ayelet posts chronicle her life in video and photographs: Seth and Hindy’s attempts to maintain normality, to “find Daddy’s nose,” “hug Mommy.” or find the “blankee” as they carry their child through her days is transcendent.
The Rabbi’s distraught call for comfort as the child’s funeral began must have been heard throughout the universe. The life of this child, the first daughter of Hindy and Seth, began precariously. When her birth came too soon, so many hoped with her parents to hear good news of her growth, and when she grew strong enough to come home, rejoiced. When her disease was diagnosed just before her first birthday, the outpouring of assistance and hope that traversed was worldwide. Marrow matches are genetically defined; the response of the Jewish community was intense.
In August, Ayelet received a marrow transplant at Cincinnati’s Children’s Hospital. Hope rose anew. The strength of faith and hope remained in late January Seth Galena wrote “Your prayers, your comments, your emails, your texts, your challahs. All these, every single one is read/felt/tasted by us… We read everything, and they are the single reason we are still standing.”
There are no words. Yet, despite the brevity of her days, there were deeds. Ayelet was a child who saved lives. Her diagnosis sparked a nationwide search for a marrow donor to combat her devastating disease. At the funeral, her grandfather shared that, through the search to find a matching donor for her, marrow matches for 21 others had been found. Still more may benefit.
Donations can be made in Ayelet’s memory to:
1. Gift of Life