Tashlich Prayers Are Answered
Wednesday - October 06, 2010
Earlier this evening (Sept. 9) members of Temple Emanu-El gathered at Ala Moana Park next to Magic Island, as we do annually for Tashlich. We throw pieces of bread into the ocean, symbolizing the “casting off” of sins and shortcomings, thereby starting Rosh Hashanah, the Jewish “New Year,” with a clean slate. Then we situate ourselves near the last lifeguard tower along with our potluck dishes, mats and beach chairs.
Around 5:30 p.m., Temple Cantor Ken Aronowitz pointed to a pink object floating about 15 yards from the shoreline. It looked like a doll floating face down. Two women were already in the water, wading quickly to the area. It then became clear the doll was in fact a lifeless little girl. The woman who got to her first was now carrying the girl and crying hysterically for help. Another Temple member, Rebecca, quickly turned the girl sideways to facilitate the saltwater exit from her lungs and mouth. “Get her on the ground!” I yelled, and Rebecca placed her on the grassy flats. Barry immediately gave rescue breaths, as I began compressions. Lynn, a pediatric nurse, took over, giving breaths as I continued compressions. Several people had already called 911. Lynn and I continued to work in tandem, feverishly attempting to resuscitate her. Within five to seven minutes, City and County lifeguards arrived and took over CPR. Seconds after, an ambulance also pulled up. The girl’s mother and members of the family were sobbing mere feet away. The EMT crew worked for several long minutes on the lifeless girl while in the ambulance. The child’s mother got into the vehicle and they sped off.
We were all stunned. People unrelated to the family cried softly. My wife Susan held my hand and I hugged my daughter Jade and kissed the top of her head. Our Temple members gathered in a circle and said a prayer for the little girl.
I walked over to one of the lifeguards and asked, “The little girl, did she have a pulse when the ambulance left?” She answered, “No, no pulse.”
As my wife and I started packing up to leave, a strange but wonderful thing happened! A woman named Susanna, who’d been in contact with the family, returned and announced that “Arabelle” had survived, but was in critical condition at Queen’s. We all cheered, hugged and started clapping! The burden that was weighing down on all of us had been lifted.
For Jews, Tashlich represents special prayers said near a body of water. On this Tashlich, our special prayers for Arabelle were truly answered.
Special thanks to the woman jogger who spotted the lifeless Arabelle; to the unknown woman who ran into the water to bring Arabelle to shore; to Susanna and her family, thank you for keeping us informed; to the members of Temple Emanu-El who came together during adversity. I cannot tell you how proud I am! To the lifeguards, firemen and EMTs, thank you for giving Arabelle a second chance. To my bosses at Altres Inc., thank you for providing me with the skills to help and save others. To all parents of little children: Cherish and watch over them carefully. You may only get one chance.
Rabbi Peter Schaktman of Temple Emanu-El says the Jewish tradition emphasizes community, and this incident allowed members to act as one to bring about a miracle. “We are grateful that there happened to be a CPR trainer on scene (Myles), also a pediatric nurse and a social worker,” he says. “Everyone was in a position to have a meaningful role. Arabelle is not out of the woods yet. She’s on a ventilator and further tests are needed to determine brain function. We continue to pray for her. “
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