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“We Won’t Stop Living”

Shlomi Gil

Amram Yosef is the scion of a famous rabbinic family, a grandson of Rav Ovadiah Yosef and son of Rav Yaakov Yosef. But nothing he learned at his father’s knee could prepare him for the grief of the past two years. Hammered by blow after blow, Amram says he’s found a new perspective that propels him onward.

Tuesday, May 26, 2015

Rosh Chodesh Shevat passed, and consolation arrived. It came suddenly, in the form of a tiny infant. The weary father stood next to the hospital bassinet, and for the first time in two years, he felt confidence in the future. The healing process, he would later relate, began on that day. He looked into the eyes of the wailing newborn and allowed himself to smile. Neither his father nor his mother was there to share his simchah, but he was sure they were watching it transpire from On High. “On that day, I could almost feel my parents’ presence as I looked at my baby daughter,” Rabbi Amram Yosef — the 28-year-old son of Rav Yaakov Yosef, himself the oldest son of Rav Ovadiah Yosef — recalled recently. “We had created a new life. I was carrying on their legacy. They’ve always been with me, at every point in my life. Even if they aren’t here physically, their spirits are with me.” Amram knew what his new daughter’s name would be. The previous summer, in Menachem Av 5774/2014, his mother, Rabbanit Nitzchiyah Yosef, had passed away. “In addition to my mother’s name of ‘Nitzchiyah,’ we gave the baby the name Ayalah,” he says. “It’s an acronym for the phrase ‘Avinu Yaakov Yosef L’chayei Ad — Our father Yaakov Yosef for eternal life.’ It represented a sort of closing of a circle for us. After losing both my parents, the baby was my nechamah.” The new two months were sweet ones. Every night, after Reb Amram finished learning and returned home from the various batei medrash where he delivers shiurim, he would approach the baby, caress her head, and coax a smile from her little mouth. Sometimes he’d interrupt his sleep to check on her, and adjust the tiny wool blanket that protected her from the chill of Jerusalem’s winter. This child, as small as she was, was his entire world. Every gurgle she made pierced his heart. WhenRoshChodeshNissan arrived, Amram and his wife began cleaning their home for Pesach. A few days later, the happy couple would celebrate their first anniversary. With his wife at his side and his two-month-old daughter completing the picture, Amram felt blessed; the approaching spring promised healing and renewal. But then, his carefully constructed recovery fell apart. On the morning of the fourth of Nissan, Amram awoke in a cold sweat. From his infant daughter’s room, his wife was calling him. “Amram, come quick — the baby! The baby!”

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