It's a Miracle but Not Everyone Sees It

"It's a miracle but not everyone sees it." 

   This is the headline of an article written about my good friend, Yona Yacobovitz. She is the founder of Tofa'ah, Israel's first all-woman rock band that was established in 1981. I am one of the founding members. Clearly our friendship goes pretty far back. 

   Yona's unique vision gave birth to alternative avenues of artistic quest and expression when there were none for observant Jewish women in Israel. The impact of the band's mere existence was huge and changed the lives of many. 

   As an extension of the band we also formed a non-profit organization that focused on and still gives support to women artists in Israel. Tof Miriam

   Tof Miriam is dedicated to the encouragement and support of Jewish women artists. We seek to gain respect and recognition for Jewish women in the arts and to develop new forums for the celebration of women's voices and women's experience. We serve to provide cultural exchange locally and internationally to promote mutual understanding through the arts and to encourage Jewish women of varied backgrounds to express themselves through their art.


"It's a miracle but not everyone sees it," 

   I've now repeated that phrase three times because the meaning behind those words is so profound that I think about it quite a lot. 

   As life would have it Yona is a woman living with the challenges of rheumatoid arthritis and Stickler syndrome, a disorder that causes a genetic malfunction in the tissue connecting bones, heart, eyes and ears - though she was diagnosed with Stickler Syndrome only after giving birth to her first son. Yona now has two sons, Yisrael Meir and Eliyahu. Both are disabled, chronically ill children living with life-threatening conditions. They require round-the-clock 24/7 nursing care. When her first son, Yissy, was born with so many overwhelming issues,  the doctors were not sure he would survive. They even dared suggest he be left to die. Yona and her husband refused. The result was that their home was transformed into an Intensive care unit. Her second son, Eli, was born with Down's Syndrome and also lives with Stickler Syndrome. The intensive care was doubled. It is no different today even after twenty-four years except for the fact that keeping these boys alive today has a huge price tag attached. They are older, bigger and are doing some amazing things. Yona's background as a musician, educator and today, a music therapist has worked wonders on the development and growth of the two boys.

   Yona remains a shining example of positivity and true faith.

See a short video clip here.

**Excerpts below from the article in Ha'aretz: 

   "Pain is inevitable, but it is our choice not to suffer," Yona explains. 

   "People who see my son see a spark of light and joy," she says. "There's something intangible about him that I can't describe. He helps me grow, and give and get to other places so that I can see the grander picture."

   Yona continues, 

   "I'm not walking around with rose colored glasses on," she insists. "I'm very much in the real world. But that world is beautiful, with laughter, joy, kindness and happiness. When my son takes a breath, that's a miracle. I see it and it makes me high. But not everyone sees it."

   "Yisrael Meir and Eliyahu keep me in balance," she writes. "To see the love and compassion they have for one another is a gift that I treasure. There is no processing in their perception."

   "It's a miracle but not everyone sees it." 

 Yona was always an inspiration to me and to so many others. However, it is that phrase that changed my own perception about those caring for and/or living with special needs. It has taken centuries for us to get out of our own way and begin to realize, acknowledge and accept that perhaps WE are the ones who are disabled? Can you paint with one foot? Can you put your shirt on with one hand? Can you communicate without words? Can you smile if you cannot see or hear? Who really has the disability? 

   Just take a look at some of the recent video clips from their home life and you will come to love these special children as much as Yona does. Yona too! 

Nevertheless, Yona is living a very challenging existence. Here are a few articles you can read:

   The challenges of life are phenomenal. It takes more than love to care for children like this. Keeping them alive in a manner that supports a decent quality of life requires tremendous effort and tremendous funding. 

   Can you lend a helping hand? 

1) The women of Tofa'ah all are happy to volunteer their time and talents for a performance where proceeds will go to support Yona and her family. Contact YONA or me, Rahel, for details and booking. 

** You may be blessed with the opportunity to meet Eliyahu in person because he is now drumming with the band on occasion! See video clip here:

2) Send a check or money order to: Yona Yakobovitz, PO Box 3959, Jerusalem, 9103901 Israel

3) Transfer funds through PayPal:

4) Transfer funds directly to the family account. Please contact us for account details. 

*** Should you need verification that these addresses and charity is valid please contact the following people (please contact us for their phone numbers): 

1) HaRav Dovid Weinberger of Har Nof, Jerusalem
2) HaRav Yehuda Saslow of the Ponevezh Yeshiva


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