Lighting Up the World

By Tammy Aryeh

The light in my family’s world went out when my aunt passed away. I was four years old at that time, yet I remember the day clearly. I came home from preschool and saw that my brother and father were home from work and school early which puzzled me. Then, my parents shared the sad news that my father’s 18 year old sister has passed away.

Despite my young age, I remember how special my Aunt Aviva A”H was.  Whenever I would go visit her she would always make time for me no matter how busy she was. She was sweet, kind, and patient, and I was very close to her.

Her passing created a big loss for my family. We received great comfort during the week of Shivah from her friends and teachers who shared touching stories of how she impacted many girls’ lives with her sensitivity and concern for others. It was during this time that my family learned that my Aunt Aviva A”H was responsible for helping her peers connect with appropriate resources to address their emotional and educational needs. My family was inspired by these stories and wanted to continue this great chesed.

The Aviva Rachel Aryeh Foundation was established in May 2006 in memory of my Aunt Aviva. The Aviva Rachel Foundation raises money for high school girls and their families so that they can get the help needed to assist in their academic success. This includes tutoring, psychological services, getting books and supplies that they need in school, and covers many other expenses having to do with school.

I wanted to be part of this great chesed, so for my Bas Mirzvah I raised money for the foundation by working as a mother’s helper. I sent out an e-mail to my community and offered my services. Raising money for this foundation really makes me feel closer to my aunt. It also makes me happy, because once these girls get the help they need from us, the world really lights up to them. I am so happy that I am able to have the chance to be part of making a girl’s life a little bit brighter! I strongly feel that I, my Mom, my Dad, and especially my Aunt Aviva, all found a way to be connected in “lighting up the world.”