We Have Something to Tell You

Posted on July 3rd, 2011

Dear Friends,

We need to tell you something.

It’s something we have known for a couple of days “unofficially,” but it is still difficult and frightening to say.

Especially now that it is official, confirmed, with no more “slight chance” of error.

I am going to whisper it at first.

Lean in close, this is tough to write.

Stella has cancer.


I know, I know. Just the thought makes my tears flow as I try and come to terms with how our lives have been so suddenly and rudely turned on their heads. Sunday morning we were looking forward to flying to California for our vacation, and a week later we were sitting in the Oncologist’s office looking at a scan of a malignant tumor that had somehow appeared in my precious wife’s precious stomach.

It’s o.k., It’s o.k.(I keep telling myself.)

We’re going to fight this. Both my Mom and Lance Armstrong beat cancer, and Stella’s tougher than them both.

Yet it’s not going to be easy. Stop, let me rephrase.

It’s going to be hell.

But at least we know — from all your e-mails, chats, comments, calls, and visits — that we are not alone.

Not by a long shot.

Please keep them coming. Even if we don’t respond, we do read them all. Address your comments directly to me and Stella. Talk to us not about us. It just feels better when you do.

Maybe the only thing harder than hearing the news was telling our dear, sweet children. I hope that you never have to hear the cries of your children shredding the night calm. To hold them and say that everything will be all right while inside you are still reeling yourself is torture. Cries that stem from deep love are the hardest of all.

I know my kids read these posts and I want you to know — I am so proud that you are our children. I will help you get through this and you will help me. And together, we will be there for Mommy.

And we are not alone. From Hevron to the Israeli Defense Forces to Potomac to San Mateo to a Church in Oklahoma and all around the world — there are people praying for Stella. When I pray I can feel everyone else’s prayers shaking the Earth, and I know someone up there is listening.

As I said before: We’re going to beat this disgusting, cowardly sickness which sneaks up on people like a thief in the night.

Many people already knew the results. It’s hard to put a calm face on when your world seems to be crashing down around you. I thought I did pretty well, but when I heard the whole Bet Knesset in Neve Daniel saying tehillim (psalms) that I knew were for Stella. I just become a blubbering mess.

So much for the tough marathon man, eh?

By the way, some people have told me that I really don’t have to write about all this. But they miss the point.

I have only two ways of coping right now.

The first is to drink a bottle of tequila and scream my head off.

Been there, done that.

The second is to write, write, and write. Perhaps to find a few laughs in between the tears.

You tell me which is better.

Many people come up to me and ask how we are doing.

While I want to say that I feel that I am plunging headfirst into a dark abyss while my soul is being torn into a thousand parts, I don’t think anyone will want to stand next to me at kiddish if I do so. Eating herring is hard enough, but to do so alone is unimaginable.

On the other hand, answering that we are “fine,” is a bit like the survivors of the Titanic describing the voyage as “pleasant.”

The truth is that we are both frightened.

So maybe, instead of asking, just give us a hug and we will know we don’t have to say anything.


Today’s song is from Coldplay. The lyrics fit exactly what I want to tell Stella much better than I could. Listen while you read:

My song is love, my song is love, unknown
And I’m on fire for you clearly,
You don’t have to be alone
You don’t have to be on your own

And I’m not gonna take it back.
Not gonna say I don’t mean that.
You’re the target I’m aiming at.
But I’m nothing on my own.

Got to get that message home


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  1. Mush says:

    Always in our hearts & prayers

  2. rutimizrachi says:

    Much love. Many prayers. Live strong, Yarden. I think it’s time to order a few hundred yellow bracelets for the yishuv. I’m in.

  3. Tal & Uri Bank says:

    Stella, Yarden and kids,
    Our hearts and prayers go out to you and the tears are flowing. Please know that we, like so many others, are proud to call you both our friends, and we are here for any kind of support you need – moral, logistical, cutting through red-tape, whatever. Please don’t hesitate at all to call to ask for anything – large or small. Hang in there! Yarden’s Mom and Lance have definitely shown you the way.
    Tal & Uri Bank

  4. Stephanie Frumkin says:

    Dear Yarden and Stella,
    My prayers and thoughts are with you in this difficult time. I am crying along with you. Stella, you are a wonderful and strong person. Please G-d, may you have a refuah shelaima.
    Stephanie Frumkin

  5. One day at a time, you know? It’s the best way to deal with it. Take it just one day at a time. You can usually handle for a 24 hour period that which you could never contemplate wrestling with for any real length of time. And when it gets to a point that 24 hours is too much, scale that back to an hour if need be.

    If you need to talk, let me know. I’ve been there before with both parents and more than a few friends. Some beat it and they’re still here, years later. This is what prayers and screaming Upstairs is for.

    Be well,

  6. Baruch says:

    We’ve been down this road unfortunately a few times. If there are any two people strong enough and worthy enough to be victorious in this brave battle– it’s you two!

    Use us and other friends, and kick this.

    With much Love,

  7. Vicky says:

    Hi Stella —

    Seems like ancient times when our lives overlapped — pre-children, pre-marriage, pre-grown-up complications. Still I look forward to finding time to catch up on so many things. I am so sad to hear and news and worried about the fight you have ahead. Please lean on the family and friends you have nurtured to be strong and brave. I remember the calm passion and focus of a younger-Stella which will serve you well now. I send hugs and laughs and will be thinking of you!

  8. Miriam says:


  9. Ellen says:

    I don’t have to say this for you – you know it already. But you may take some comfort in knowing others share it with you – Stella is one fabulous, awesome lady and I’m praying for her and for all of you to be able to weather this storm and come out of it into good health and love. Hugs to all of you.

    It might be more helpful to tell the children it’s probably going to be okay. We hope it’s going to be okay. We are all praying for it to be okay. They can know that you don’t know and that it’s okay for them to have some fear. They will have fears anyway. At least they will know that you have some as well, and that you will all face them together.

    May we speedily see the day when we can all laugh at the fears because they are “all gone” with the cancer, and Stella has a complete healing and a wonderful, happy, healthy, long rest of her life. May you both grow very old together in good health.

    Love from Miriam’s Mom in NY

  10. Paul Goldstein says:

    I don’t know what to say – Yarden, you say your thoughts so eloquently. OK, here goes anyhow: we’re thinking of you, we’re dovening for you, you’re in our hearts and minds. Stella, a refuah shalemah. You’re on a rocky road, but with G-d’s help, you’ll beat this. Be well, from Jeri & Paul

  11. Bill Landau says:

    Yarden – In spirit, I will be standing next to at kiddush, ready to share whatever is is you need to say – and there will be things you don’t want, but need, to say. And I’ll hug you, too.

    Stella – I can’t hug you in person – although I would, and propriety be damned! – if I were. But our prayers and tehillim are with you, as are our love and our thoughts.

    I suspect it will be a few years before I can next make it to Israel. When I do, Neve Daniel will certainly be on my itinerary, and I plan to spend time with you and Yarden, because I know you will beat this.

    All my love – and Gail’s – to you both.

  12. Josh Kulp says:

    My prayers are with you and Stella.
    My the Kadosh Baruch Hu bless you both with health and strength.

  13. Moishe Lewack says:

    Yarden, Stella & Family:

    Pam and I will say Tehillim every day at home. We are also asking R’ Labkowski our Rabbi in Frederick, MD to mention you in their davening in Crown Heights and at the Rebbe’s Ohel.

    Unfortunately, Pam and I cannot be there for you. You will always be in our hearts, especially all the joy you brought to Pam and I in Potomac, MD.

    Tzuriya Kochevet, you are a Malakha Yafah.

  14. Steve Wolinsky says:

    Dear Stella, Yarden and sweet dear children,
    We are all with you. All of Am Yisrael and humanity is with you. May you be strong and overcome.
    My wife had cancer over 12 years ago, and now she is B”H cured. With the help of H-shem, the top notch Israeli oncologic care and the tefilot of all of us ,you WILL beat this. Ein Breira Acheret.
    Steve and family

  15. rhonacorinne says:

    so now you will have to add ‘chaya’ or ‘alta’ to her hebrew names … my mom was given penicillin when she was newborn and almost died due to an allergic reaction … my grandfather ran into shule and added her name ‘chaya’ (which means ‘life’) to her name and immediately the allergic reaction subsided … my own brother had pneumonia that was not responding to antibiotics when he was an infant … adding the name ‘alta’ (which means ‘old’ in Yiddish) to his name saved his life … he is now a healthy 46 year old …

  16. linda reap says:

    Hi Cookie! It’s been many years since we’ve spoken, but Sharon and I remember you fondly in both our thoughts and conversation. Your news is most distressing. Sharon and I have both heard such words before…..my daughter endured three and a half years of chemo and both our lives were altered forever. Still, Sharon survived, we all survived and you my dearest Stella, will too! Be strong and fight for your life. Love you always and forever, linDA aka Sharon Ziparo’s mom

  17. nava says:

    Hi Stella and Yarden, and Max, Rivka, Miriam and Yedidya,

    A year and a half ago, our world came crashing down around us as well when Noa was born. I almost went insane. I was on the brink. Since, however, G-d hadn’t actually killed me or Noa, I figured that He still wanted me around for a job, even if it wasn’t what I had planned. Fancy that, huh? So I turned to Him, and a whole bunch of angels, many of whom live in ND, threw me a rope. His hand is holding the other side of the rope and I hold on. That was good preparation b/c 7 months later, He made the wind howl harder. It wasn’t just the heart and hypotonia. It was the brain; it was irreversible and it was for life. But this time we were ready, believe it or not, b/c we had the rope. So we were definitely blown off the deck in the tempest without much between us and the waves, twisting and turning, sometimes with only a finger or two still on the rope, a lot of water coming from our eyes too, but there still was the rope, see, and lots of amazing people hugging us from all sides. People are buoyant.

    So G-d thinks a whole lot of you. It’s not enough that you converted, became frum and moved to Israel. No…He’s got even bigger plans for you. Apparently, you are among His greats. You hold on to His rope. We are hugging you.

  18. Yedidya and Michelle Anflick says:

    Yarden and Stella,

    So sorry to hear this news and so sincerely wishing you refuah sheleima! We have been thinking of you and will continue to do so.
    Just thinking of you and seeing your image in our minds brings warm feelings and smiles to our faces! May you be zoche to much bracha and hatzlacha!!!

    Yedidya and Michelle

  19. עמי ודפנה says:

    ירדן, סטלה והילדים
    אנחנו פה, לא רחוק. יחד עם כל החברים ותושבים בישוב נתגייס ביחד איתכם.
    אתם ממש לא לבד במלחמה הזו.
    חיוך, תפילה, אוכל או כל עזרה אחרת שרק תרצו או תצטרכו בשלבים השונים.
    עמי ודפנה

  20. Sharon Baratt says:

    Dearest Stella & Yarden,

    My heart goes out to you and your wonderful children. Consider yourselves hugged by me – like Bill Landau said above, propriety be damned, I would hug both of you if I were able to travel to Israel.

    For some reason unknown to us mere mortals, G-d has a reason to give you and your family this challenge. Scream to G-d your feelings about this – it helps. I have been told so many times with all of the challenges G-d has seen fit to give me, that you don’t have to like the challenge, you can be angry with G-d for giving you this challenge, but you do need to rise up to the challenge to the best of your abilities. I believe that you both are very strong – otherwise you wouldn’t be given this challenge.

    We have been asking all of our friends to join us in davening for you, Stella. A number of them are planning to go to the Kotel to daven for you and leave a kvittel with your Hebrew name on it in the wall. Others are baking challah with you in mind, and still others are not only davening for you, but are also saying tehillim for you. Hopefully, G-d will hear the demands from all over the world to make this challenge go as easily on you and your family as possible.

    If you need a shoulder, we are here for you.

    All our love, Sharon & Jackie

  21. amoslevi says:

    We love you guys – you are all rock stars

  22. Gary Swickley says:

    Our thoughts and tears are with you. Be strong. You have never travelled the way of the pack, and I am sure you will continue to betray convention and overcome this setback as well.

    Our prayers are with you.

  23. Seitz Family says:

    Stella & Yarden,
    It says is Shir Ha Shirim “My dove in the clefts of the rock, in the secret places of the terrace, show me your appearance, and let Me hear your voice, for your voice is sweet, and your appearance is beautifull.” –
    The Netziv interprets “Your voice ” as “your lamentation”. This teaches us that Hashem yearns for our prayers (espescially those of women!).

    May Hashem help you cope with this problem untill He removes it or corrects it.

    With much love,
    Zefi, Dorron & Noam (that makes a total of 6 shoulders to lean on!)

  24. James Cohen says:

    Dear Yarden & Stella,

    When I was in high school one of my teachers taught me the importance of davening for people who are sick. At first, he said that one could be helping other people with the same name. (I personally didn’t like that reason). But then he said something that has stuck with me for years. He said that I should tell the person who is sick that I am davening for them, or made a mi shebeirach for them or whatever I am doing in the person’s merit and THAT will give them encouragement to get well knowing that I am thinking of them and that they are not alone in their difficult time.
    So, Stella, I am davening for you every day.
    Yarden, please tell her and yourself that you are not alone in this difficult time; and your family, friends and neighbours are thinking positive thoughts for you.
    May Hashem give you a Refuah Sheleimah.
    I send you all a hug.


  25. Leorah says:

    Dear Stella & Yarden,

    Sometimes life just doesn’t seem fair. It is so hard to have emunah when you are faced with such tests. But there is a plan from up above, and as hard as things seem now, everything is for the best.

    You will fight this and beat it and become stronger people from it.

    A big big hug from us

    Leorah and Arie

  26. Avigdor Book says:

    I will pray for a full recovery and that your familty get through this tough time with as little pain as possible.
    Avigdor (Vig)

  27. Lior Salomon says:

    Dear Stella, Yarden and kids,
    Are thoughts and prayers are with you all for a speedy and complete recovery.
    Yarden, your high spirits and positive outlook on life together with Stella’s strength of charachter and determination will G-d willing get you through this. Hoping to hear positive news in the very near future.
    Tzila, Lior, Nesya & Amit Salomon (ex-Neve Daniel now Beit Rimon)

  28. Judith Nessim says:

    Dear Friends,

    You don’t know me, but I know you. I am Zefira’s sister and I’ve heard a lot about you and of course, your lovely boy Yedidya.

    What can I tell you… I am as devastated as Zefira was when she learned the news.. she even told me on the phone the day Stella was taken to the hospital and you and her didn’t know what the problem was.. my gosh! who would have thought of this… : (

    (((HUGS))) my friends, reading this made me realize how much I also have a stake, how precious our spouses, children, family and friends are, and so is life.

    Just remember that where there is a crisis there is a great potential for renewal and growth. Behind the pain, agony and all the troubles, there is the hand of Hashem with a gift in it, waiting for us to see it and take it… it is hard, very hard I know, but I hope that by keeping this in mind ALL the time, it will help you to get through.

    My prayers are with you, please be strong, stay connected with Hakadosh Baruch, even, no, SPECIALLY when you feel you are plunging headfirst into a dark abyss…

  29. Lewis says:

    Dear Yarden and Stella
    love you..
    Always in our hearts & prayers
    Eli and Noa

  30. Cigal Gabay says:

    Dear Yarden & Stella,

    You guys don’t know me, but I’m a friend of Romi’s and I used to work at NBN as a PreAliyah counselor when you guys were planning your Aliyah…I remember speaking to you both a few times.
    I read your post about Stella your rockstar and then I read Romi’s post. I was moved to tears by all three posts, this one especially.
    I’m SO sorry that this is happening to you and your family. Please know that you are in our tfilot. We live in RBS and I plan to send out an email to the listserv requesting that tehillim be said for a refua shleima. Stella, I don’t know you personally, but from everything I’ve read about you through both Yarden and Romi, you sound like an incredible woman. I wish you a ton of strength to get through this very difficult time. Hashem should bless you and your entire family. ((((HUGS))))

  31. Samara says:

    Very emotional, very difficult to accept. It will just be one day at a time, and we will be here to help you down this long and difficult road. But you are strong and will become stronger as you beat this thief in the night. Out tefillot are with you…you have Toronto praying for you now as well! Big hugs…..

  32. Jill Smudski says:

    Yarden, Thank G-d you are so eloquent, because you will help us to help you. And around and around, and you’re right, it’s all love. Stella, I’m crying and davening for you, we all are in Potomac. I’m stunned and speechless, but fortunately Hashem hears the words of our hearts. Hugs, Jill

  33. elana miller says:

    Dear Stella and Jordan,
    I hope you received my message. i am truly sincere in offering to come there and take care of your family for as long as you need help. PLEASE consider this and let me know if you would allow me the pleasure of helping you in this time of great need. i feel that your children are my children and it would be a comfort to know that you can be available to do whatever medical things you need to do without worrying about meals, laundry or carpools. I love you both so much and being half a world away makes us all feel so powerless. if I could give back even a fraction of what you’ve given me, it would mean so much.

    I await your response.

    Love always, Elana

  34. Adam August says:


    You were less than a week away from moving your entire family halfway around the world to Neve Daniel and rather than leave anything behind, you gobbled up more mitzvahs by making a meal for us so that we could take a little breather when our newest child arrived. We were all so touched by your genuine, complete, selfless chesed. You are a remarkable, strong woman and HaShem has given you this latest challenge, from which we know we can count on you to show us how we would need to respond to adversity – like a mensch/madele. We all want to be like you in so many ways. Thank you for everything that you do to show us how to live a blessed life.

    Brooke and Adam August

  35. Lifshitz says:

    Dear Stella and Yarden
    You are in our tefillot every day. May you have a refua shalayma.
    Stay strong and big hugs!
    Avi and Sara Lifshitz

  36. Sarah says:

    Dear Yarden, Stella & family –

    Don’t forget: There is a 3rd way to cope – Daven, Daven, Daven. Do mitzvos. You’re probably pretty mad at G-d right now, and I don’t blame you, but always remember that it is He – not a mindless disease – who controls everything that happens to us. If the “fight” metaphor makes it easier for you to cope, that’s ok, but don’t lose sight of Who’s really in charge.

    May Hashem grant you a refuah shleima, Tzuriya Kochevet. We will be davening with you along the way.

  37. Avigail & Yossi Stern says:

    Dearest Stella and Yarden,
    First of all- big bear hugs!! We love you and are davening for you!
    As i read this shocking news..the picture that keeps coming in mind is of you, beautiful Stella lighting the torch on this past Yom Ha’atzmaut. I remember as they called each person up and when they called you, tears came to my eyes- you went up in your usual T”zanu’a way (modest) and lit your so deserving torch. I was so proud that i know you and was so happy that the yishuv chose you to honor us. Stella- i don’t get to see you much, each of us busy b”h but every time i see you or have a good shmooze with you- i’m in awe for days after. Your sincere care for others is so obviously noticed- if it’s a good morning smile on your daily walk or some great life tips you have given at time of need. You somehow are always there at the right time and know just what to say…and always so soft spoken and so tzanu’a. I think at a time like this- we all have to learn from u and try emulate these traits of yours- ur chessed and caring for others and your very modest behaviour and softspoken voice- and in the zechut of us trying to become better people because of you may Hashem send you a Speeedy Refuah Shleima.- I will be sure to pass this news on to my parents be”h and have them put you in their tefillot . My Mom loves you and we are all holding you in our hearts through this hard time.. remember- we little people in this world don’t see the big picture. we have to strengthen our emunah , especially at hard times, and truly believe that Hashem does e/t for the best although it is very hard for us to see at times…may we all strengthen our teffilot and mitzot and an dbe zoche to see you home happy and healthy very soon be”h!
    Avigail & Yossi

  38. I’m not mad at God. Davening like never before.