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Shooting Star

Barbara Bensoussan

Have you ever caught sight of a shooting star tracing its dazzling trajectory across the heavens? It seems to appear out of nowhere, lights up the sky for a moment, and then is gone, all too soon. Avigail Rechnitz a”h was one such shooting star.

Wednesday, December 04, 2013

Avigail Rechnitz, a brilliant, creative young woman, arrived in Los Angelesshortly after her marriage. As the Rechnitz businesses flourished, Avigail left a successful legal career and devoted herself to creating a small empire of chesed, revitalizing the local Bikur Cholim and transforming it into a major resource for theLos Angeles community.

“Avigail wouldn’t want to be portrayed as some sort of ‘angel of chesed,’ ” says her brother Mordechai Wakslak. “She grew into that role and became more spiritual through it. It was always her nature to step into any situation that required fixing and apply herself toward righting it. The more she helped people, the more she found self-fulfillment.”

Tragically, after many years of helping the sick, Avigail joined the ranks of patients battling life-threatening illness. Within a couple of years she was gone, leaving a gaping void in the hearts of everyone she had touched.

 

Superwoman to Supermom

Avigail’s wedding photos show a slim, dark-haired girl with a quietly gracious air. Her naturally regal presence was underscored by her height — she was 5’10”, a perfect match for her super-tall husband, Yisroel Zev. As sister-in-law Tamar Rechnitz describes, Avigail was “always poised, very classy and elegant.”

Avigail grew up in Long Beach, New York, the oldest of four; her father Rabbi Chaim Wakslak is the rav of a shul. “She was always a powerhouse,” he relates. “Even as a little girl, she’d come to shul, sit quietly during the drashah, and organize groups for the children.” Her playful, creative side found expression in skits and poems for family, shul, and school.

The Wakslaks set early examples of community involvement for their children. “My parents had the attitude that you don’t live for yourself. They were always involved with helping others, sending food to people, and we always had guests at our table,” says brother Menachem Wakslak, a cardiologist who took a position inLos Angelesshortly before his sister became ill.

Though Avigail’s first career plan was psychology, her father — a psychologist himself — discouraged her: “The job entails carrying the weight of other people’s troubles.” Ironically, when Bikur Cholim later dominated her life, she did nothing but take on other people’s troubles.

 

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