heart chainDo you remember being in high school? For just a moment, try to recall what it was like. Smell the tuna salad; hear the din of the hallway in between classes – lockers slamming shut, students yelling about going out for pizza, or what’s for homework. I’m sure you can conjure up a pretty accurate picture. Do you remember the competitive nature of high school? There are so many realms where one-upmanship and insecurities run rampant: grades, looks, fashion, performing arts, creative writing, sense of humor, sense of ‘cool’, and the list goes on. Now imagine being in high school with a person who excels in each and every one of these realms (yes, despite what your mother told you, they do exist). Beautiful, blond, brainy, brilliant, great actress, talented writer, witty, super-ambitious, a born leader. You want to hate her already, don’t you? Well, you can’t. Because her magnetic personality has you smitten. And because in addition to all of those things, she is genuine, kind, caring and inclusive. That’s what it was like being in high school with Rochie Shoretz z”l.

During summer vacation before the start of my junior year, I received a call from the school principal, offering me a position as one of the heads of the school’s drama club. Three sophomores-to-be were already collaborating on the program, and she thought I’d be a great asset to the team. I needed some time to think about it, especially since I hadn’t even participated in the drama club(!) [forced to choose between acting and singing]. A few days later, I declined the offer. But while I was considering it, the trio (of which Rochie was an active part) reached out to me, sincerely inviting and welcoming my input – despite my being an outsider, an upperclassman who hadn’t even spent a day in the drama club, and despite the fact that they had already done much of the hard work. This always struck me as exceptional.

Yesterday, as my facebook feed filled with posts sporting her radiant smiling face, I was amazed by the sheer breadth of Rochie’s impact. People from all over North America and Israel, from all walks of life, be it from the legal community, patient advocacy groups, Jewish education forums, and representing a myriad of causes and organizations, had all been touched and inspired by her shining example. The incredible organization Sharsheret is only one of the many chains she initiated and nurtured, whose links reach far and wide.

Yehi Zichra Baruch (May her memory be for a blessing). Because really, it couldn’t possibly be anything but.