First there was bad news, in a hospital, a few months ago: Yoav Aburas, 3 years old, had cancer. Then there was good news, in a dream: Yoav saw himself holding a white Torah scroll that would heal him.
He told his parents. And he told them again.
"Nobody listened because it was a dream," says Rabbi Simcha Scholar, executive vice president of Chai Lifeline, the organization for children with life-threatening illnesses that found a sefer Torah for Yoav two days after receiving his request.
Dr. Leonard Wexler, above left, a children’s oncologist, had contacted Chai Lifeline. Prominent Sephardic rabbis had told the child’s parents that Yoav had a special soul, that his dream might be prescient.
An area synagogue that is closing donated the Torah. Last week it was escorted to a playroom in Memorial Sloan Kettering Cancer Center, where Yoav is undergoing treatment. For an hour there was singing and dancing.
"The kid was holding it by himself" for nearly the whole hour, Rabbi Scholar says. "I don’t know where he got the strength ."
Yoav stands, above right, with his father, Noam.
Sick children usually don’t ask for Torah scrolls, Rabbi Scholar says. "We’ve dealt with thousands of patients, we’ve granted many requests. This is the most unique." As was a Torah dedication in a cancer hospital. "It was an incredible spiritual experience …an aura of godliness … on the child’s face," the rabbi says. "There was not a dry eye in that room: Jew, non-Jew, religious, non-religious, doctors, nurses.
The scroll, with a quickly embroidered white mantle dedicated to the "speedy recovery" of Ela Yoav ban Chaya, now sits in the ark of Yoav’s family’s synagogue in Bayswater, Queens, waiting for his return. "I promised he’d get it back," Rabbi Scholar says. "We shook hands on it."