Boruch Dayan Ha’emes: Levana Rothner, mother of eight from Jerusalem died unexpectedly several days ago at the young age of 48. It was only after her sudden death that the subhuman conditions her family was living in were brought to light.
“We always knew that their situation was very complex. But we never could have imagined how horrible it really was,” explained a neighbor.
Levana’s husband doesn’t function as a father and often disappears for extended periods of time. Levana was left to take care of the eight children on her own and tried her best to give her children as normal of a childhood as she could. But it in the end, it was far from normal.
Shortly after her death, her daughter Sarah (17) recounts the tragic disaster:
“My mother went to light the Shabbos candles when suddenly, she collapsed on the floor. I quickly gathered all the children out of the house and shouted to our neighbors to call Hatzolah. After a few terrifying minutes, they turned to me and asked: “Where is your father? She is not responding to our resuscitation attempts.”
In a heartbreaking letter, Sarah describes her longing for a functioning father:
“Once when I was with a friend, I saw a two-year-old girl run into her father’s arms. He scooped her up and kissed her rosy cheeks. I went back home to our filthy floor, to my mother shuffling through the mess, looking for food for my little brother. Ima did not have much to give us, but she had a raw and pure love and she gave it to us without measure.”
Sarah is underaged and cannot take financial responsibility for her seven siblings. The Rachmastrivka Rebbe, the Pinsk-Karliner Rebbe, and the Strikover Rebbe held an emergency meeting on the family’s behalf and strongly encourage anyone who can do so to help. In Sarah Rothner’s words:
“I’m only 17. Old enough to understand the dangerous severity of our situation, of how very alone we are. Too young to take financial, emotional and physical responsibility for the family. I turn to you and beg: If you see the pictures of our house you will understand in an instant that we have gone through enough in life. Now, we are on the verge of falling apart completely. Please help us…”