Married to a Rock Star

Posted on June 30th, 2011

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Lately, I have been asking people to pray for my wife’s health. We are anxiously awaiting the results of a biopsy performed on “something” (excuse the medical term) that they found in her stomach. No, they have ruled out leftover cholent beans.

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Now, I don’t really care if you are a black-hatted, beard-to-the-ground Satmar Hasid, a lesbian, pregnant Reform rabbi, Christian, Buddhist, Shinto, Muslim, or really frum agnostic. If you believe that there is some Unified Force that can control the universe, do me a favor and ask Him/Her/It to please cut Stella some slack.

In the Jewish tradition, we believe that using a person’s Hebrew name is important. I’m not sure why because believe me, G-d knows Stella very well. If he wanted to give us all an example of how chesed (kindness) should be performed, then Stella is the super-model. The only one who would say that Stella is not the embodiment of kindness would be Stella herself — and that kind of proves my point.

I am not surprised that through Facebook, we have received an outpouring of support from all the communities that we have ever lived. We have gotten messages from friends we met by the snowy hills of Colgate University (where we first met about twenty-six years ago) through Potomac, Maryland to our present community of Neve Daniel, Israel. There are people all over who have been touched by Stella’s kindness. (By the way, we read and cherish every single e-mail, status comment, chat, and “like.” Keep ’em coming.)

But back to the name thing. Stella’s Hebrew name is Tzuriya Kochevet, and I bet you won’t meet another with the same name. It is no secret that Stella converted to Judaism. In fact, she liked the process so much she did it twice. The first time was under the auspices of the Conservative movement, the second time was in the Orthodox style. (For non-Jewish friends reading, the different streams of Judaism have different standards for whether certain fish are kosher, what’s okay to do on a Saturday afternoon, and..oh yeah, what a convert needs to do in order to eat herring at a Bat Mitzvah as a member of the tribe. [Not really. -Ed.])

So before the first conversion, the Rabbis asked Stella to come up with a Hebrew name. That’s a great benefit to being a convert — you can pick out your own name. So Stella decided to use a Hebrew phrase (Tzuri-ya) that means “G-d is my rock.” Good name for someone who always remains calm no matter what the situation. Space aliens could be landing all over and Stella will remember whose turn it is to drive carpool to Tae Kwan Do camp. If that person has been captured by little green men, she will drive the kids herself before defending the planet.

At the Orthodox conversion, they asked her for her Hebrew name and she mentioned that she was already Tzuriya. One of the Rabbis suggested that she add a name to signify the second conversion. She was on the spot and couldn’t just come up with an appropriate moniker for life. So someone suggested she just use a form of the Hebrew word for “star” which is what “Stella” means anyway. So she chose “Kochevet.”

So when she finished with the Rabbis and told me her new name was Tzuriya Kochevet, I pointed out that her new name really meant ‘G-d is my rock star.” (You see why I doubt you will meet anyone else with the same name.)

So please, if you have ever been touched by Stella’s kindness, take a quick moment to ask G-d to make sure that everything will be completely alright.

And if he asks who you are talking about, just say “You are her rock star.”

Not only will he know who it is, I bet he will give a (metaphorical) smile.

Thank you for your prayers. May we receive good news very soon.


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  1. tamara says:

    Dear Yarden and Tzuriya Kohevet — May G-d smile upon you both, granting your prayers as well as all those who are lifting you both up in prayer, for complete healing, whether through an outright miracle, or correct diagnosis and treatment to bring Tzuriya back to health and strength.

    Yarden, your words were beautiful. I have never come in contact with your wife, but she sounds like a special woman, and I can hear your outpouring of love and honor for her in this blog. You are blessed to be married to the “bride of your youth” and may you have at least 50 more years together to share your love in health and happiness.

    Shalom U’vracha and Refuah Shlema!

  2. Gerson Brusowankin says:

    from , Efrat. I will pray and put her name on the Efrat list. Please verify that it should be Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sarah?
    Thank you.

  3. Yes, that’s correct

  4. May Av HaRachamim bless all of you with strength – and refua shlaima.

    Read “It’s MY Crisis! And I’ll Cry If I Need To: EMPOWER Yourself to Cope with a Medical Challenge”

    Find me on Facebook!

  5. Carol says:

    Hope this “thing” is a nothing. You DO seem like a rock star!
    Tzuriah Kochevet bat Sara, I will make a note to put you on our Boston, MA davening list.
    (I live in Boston now, but know the Shuter and Gottlieb clan from YEARS ago).
    Refuah Shleima!

  6. Nina says:

    Beautiful blog, thanks for sharing. We hope Stella has a speedy recovery and you can reschedule your trip abroad and celebrate a refuah shalyma. Nina

  7. Fay Ckymer says:

    We met in Potomac MD when you and your family were stateside and my son and his family were part of the kollel that came from Israel.I heard that you 2 had become one of the Americans to make aliyah and had made your home in Neve Daniel with the contingent from Maryland. Please know that you all are in my thoughts and prayers.May Hashem offer complete healing and a long life to Tzuriya…shalom and love…Gershon Clymer’s Mom…Fay Clymer,East Lyme CT
    ps…there are lots of survivors out there…I,for one, am a 2 time survivor..Hashem has work for us to do and things for us to see!!!

  8. Shellie and Lenny says:

    Lenny and I feel very safe with Stella fighting off aliens when they’ll arrive, so she is in our thoughts and prayers. Here’s hoping that the “something” is nothing. Refua Shlaima. Shellie and Lenny

  9. arline says:

    we will pray for tzuriah kochevet bat sarah and will have her put on our refuah shlema list….how blessed you are to have such a wonderful person for a wife and such a wnderful person for a husband…may you both be blessed with a return to good health…refuah shlemafrom arline in potomac

  10. rutimizrachi says:

    I used to like you okay, Yarden. After a few tears over this loving accolade for my rock star spinning buddy, I am actually fond of you. May she keep shining her special light in your life until you are both very old, wrinkly people. And may we all share many smachot and many laughs.

  11. Donna Goldman says:

    Ian and I are praying for you.

  12. Annick Abrams says:

    I only know you briefly over some soccer seasons, but when you meet people on fire, you don’t forget them. So, Stella, I am so praying for you and getting a very treatable diagnosis and living the life of a rock star!

  13. Lauren Mervis Praff says:

    Dear Stella,
    I have indeed been so uplifted by your unique kindness, (around shul in Potomac and in Neve Daniel) and so it was particularly lovely to read Yarden’s blog post. I am davening for your continued welfare and that all should be well and resolved soon. You are clearly a close friend of Gods, and I think Yarden’s take on your name is just excellent.

    Sending much love, (with my new husband, Yoni,)
    Lauren Mervis

  14. Sarah says:

    How distressing! I’ve sent Tzuriya Kochevet’s name to 2 local shul lists, plus my own. May you hear good results soon. Please keep us posted.

  15. Rocky Hankins says:

    El na refa na lah May the one who was a source of blessing for our ancestors, bring blessings of healing upon “Stella” “Tzuriya Kochevet’s,” a healing of body and a healing of spirit. May those in whose care they are entrusted be gifted with wisdom and skill, and those who surround them be gifted with love and trust, openness and support in their care. And may they be healed along with all those who are in need. Blessd are you, source of healing. Know my friend that not only Stella but her entire family are in our thoughts and prayers and will continue to be for as long as there is a need. I have absolutely no doubt that the God we both serve knows your Rock Star wife very well, in fact He has known her since before the foundation of this earth was created, He then created her and has been with her ever since and He will never leave her. He wants nothing but the very best for His children. Let us commend our friend into God’s rich grace and pray for speedy healing and recovery. And let us all say, Amen. Rev. Rocky Hankins

  16. Sue Sussman says:

    We met in Potomac and were very happy when you made aliyah to Neve Daniel. When we visit Josh and his beautiful family, I always look forward to seeing you. They are very fortunate to have you as their good friend and neighbor. You are a very special person and you are in my thoughts and prayers. I join an army of people who hope you will be well soon and back to being your wonderful self.
    Thinking of you.
    Sue Sussman

  17. libby anfinsen says:

    Dear Stella, We all have been gifted by your presence in our lives, your warmth, your good head for complicated challenges, your embrace of pure love……your many abilities ……you have served as a role model for all who have met you and we expect you to continue until your 120th birthday. With
    much love and admiration, libby anfinsen

  18. Rachel and Jeffrey Hamberger says:

    Dear Yarden and Stella,

    We are davening for a refuah shelaymah, a complete and speedy recovery for Stella. May we hear only good news!

    Dash Cham,
    Rachel and Jeffrey Hamberger

  19. Miriam says:

    What a powerful article. May Stella have a quick and easy refuah, and live to 120!

  20. avrum says:

    May Tzuriya Kochevet bat Sarah have refuah shelimu and we should here many simchas from both of you

  21. Amanda Shechter says:

    Dear Jordan and Stella,

    I am Leslie Rosenberg’s sister. We haven’t seen each other in a very long time (a baby naming in Potomac, I believe?). You can be certain that my family and all of my friends will be adding Stella’s name to their tefillot. We pray for good news very soon.

    Refuah Shlaima,

  22. John Levin says:

    Stella, we love you – all the thousands of us – and we have you in our prayers, not only in shul, at every turn, and even past the water tower.

    רפואה שלמה

  23. Galit Rutstein says:

    Stella and family,

    You are in our thoughts and prayers!

    Galit Rutstein

  24. Ruth says:

    Stella, I met you a few times during our visits to Potomac. We had pleasant conversations. I hope we will have many more when you visit in Potomac after your recovery. Meantime I will daven for your refuoh shelemoh. And keep your husband writing upbeat updates etc. I see him here every year when he visits.
    All the best.

  25. rachel himelstein says:

    as an alien i can tell you honestly you dont want to mess with Tzuriya shelanu, she was looking after all the people who love her like crazy in neve daniel. at the same time as visiting unwell people, welcoming newcomers to the yishuv, taking care of her jobs, loving and caring for all of her wonderful family members and did we mention their dog . she was doing all this and single handedly defending the planet/ we come from a kochav and we went straight back there. we cant take her on and with that kind of strength and with so much love coming her way from so many friends and family members we just ran the other way. hopefully this thing will do the same, faster than the speed of light. Refuah Sheleima from your new fan club up in star milky way. you inspire us!!

  26. Krista Strothmann says:

    I laughed out loud in the coffee shop reading about Stella’s famous calm. I know it’s true. You are both in my thoughts and prayers.

  27. steve wolinsky says:

    My family and I wish a refuah shelema to Tzuria Kochevet bat Sara

  28. Jen and Joel Tabin says:

    Hey Yarden! What a great post. What you said really captures Stella. We will be praying for a speedy, total refuah. All our best to you, Stella and the whole family….Jen and Joel Tabin

  29. Debbie and David kaler says:

    David and I are praying for your speedy recovery !! We love you and you are our, “Rock Star !!!!” May we hear good news soon !!!!

  30. Ruth says:

    What did I say that needs moderating? I wish Stella only the best and hope and pray that she will soon visit Potomac in good health.
    Kol tuv

  31. Ken says:

    Shalom U’vracha and Refuah Shlema!

  32. Jill Smudski says:

    Dear Stella and Yarden, Thanks for the explanation of Stella’s Hebrew name, I was wondering. But didn’t she pick “Stella” as well? Does her Japanese mean “star,” or did she just happen to pick a name that illuminates her soul? We are davening for a refuah shleima for Stella, and for blessings for your whole family.

  33. A says:

    Hi Coach! I am sorry to hear this news. I wish your wife a refuah sheleima, and I have a memory of my own about your wife’s kindness.

    I remember that your wife (and all your kids too) would come to all of our baseball games back with our team, to cheer everyone on. It also struck me that your wife was very kind and sweet, when I would talk to her once in a while at our games. So I can definitely attest to the kindness you were talking about, even from just one simple baseball season- it’s been 6 years or so since the time and I still remember that specific memory because I really liked (and of course I still like ! ) your family.

    I wish your family all the best, and your wife should have a speedy recovery and lots of chizzuk. We should only hear good news in the future.

    Shabbat Shalom.

  34. Russ C says:


    I think Jordan has is slightly askew. You are G-d’s Rock Star. It’s erev shabbos here and we love you!

  35. Susie Porgess says:

    Dear Yarden and Stella,
    What a beautifully written article. I saw it on Rina Rebibo’s facebook page. I remeber the good times we had at Young Israel in Potomac and always admiring Stella and the family. We will daven for Tzuriya Kochevet. Wishing Stella a complete refuah sheleima.
    Susie Porgess

  36. Samara says:

    Stella, you are always calm and tranquil, even around screaming babies! You were smiling and singing with us just a few days ago, and we are praying with all our hearts that you return stronger and healthier in the very near future. Yarden, you wrote a beautiful blog. We are here for you, for whatever you might need. We are all davening for Stella to have a Refuah Shlemah and thinking of you all, constantly.

  37. rhonacorinne says:

    Definitely will put your beautiful wife in my prayers … for a refuah shleimah … and just a reminder … as an organic gardener, many of the toxins farmers use to grow plants can easily cause the big c … so try to buy only organic … or grow your own foods! lots of websites can help with the nutritional approach to curing cancer … and also what foods to avoid (like meat and other toxins:—5-Foods-to-Avoid&id=2904696 ) …. G-d bless you and your wife in this fight … it can be done!

  38. Esther Thangjom Schomberg says:

    You must be one brave soul -you still have your humour intact .I went through a similar trial back in 2009 ,what I learnt from Rav Shalom Arush helped me , I thanked Hashem on the “fact” that hurted me the most …….if you have time please read Garden of Emunah esp recommend it for your wife -it gives a tremendous “Chizuk” .Gd willing she will come out of it stronger ,will remember her in my prayers .BTW send me yr address so that I can order the book .
    Refuah Shlema min Hashamayim .

  39. noki says:

    Refuah Shleima, a healthy and full life for both of you till 120!! (come and visit sometime. coffe on me.)

  40. ruth powers says:

    Stella, many of us from your childhood are are here rooting for you and hoping and praying that all will be good soon. I love the smiling picture of you in the baseball hat–still the same great smile from when you and the other musketeers, Carol and Marybeth, from Commodore Circle were just little girls and planning your concert with Shawn Cassidy. My how time flies, but we never forget the precious moments. I will be thinking of you, your children and Jordan, and of both your parents who are also involved in this frightening journey with you. There is much love coming your way.
    Ruth Powers (Marybeth’s mom)