In loving memory of Lara Noik
Shulamis bas Ephraim Betzalel a”h

A message from the Chief Rabbi of South Africa,
Rabbi Warren Goldstein

Providing comfort to those who have suffered loss is to do Hashem’s work in this world. The Talmud teaches, in fact, that the source in the Torah for our calling to help others is G-d’s own example. Just as Hashem clothes the naked, visits the sick, comforts the mourner and buries the dead, we too should strive to follow Him in these endeavours, emulating His kindness and compassion. In all these situations, people are suffering, whether from trauma, illness, grief, or indignity. And we are called on to alleviate and mitigate their distress as much as we can.

Bringing comfort to those who have suffered loss is Divine, and Terry Rubenstein has set up this remarkable website to do exactly that – to provide comfort to mourners, and give them the tools to deal with their loss and help them on their journey to healing.

This website is dedicated in loving memory of Terry’s sister Lara a”h, who was an overflowing source of wisdom and comfort in our community. She dedicated her life to bringing comfort and emotional support to those around her – whether through her selfless work for the Chevrah Kadisha Johannesburg, or more recently through the mental health organisation she helped set up, The Ki. Lara was a true pillar of kindness and compassion, and her passing at a young age is a loss not only for her family but the entire South African Jewish community. May Finding Light Through Loss continue Lara’s incredible legacy.

This initiative is accomplishing holy work, literally the work of Hashem. The traditional blessing we give mourners is, “May Almighty comfort you among the mourners of Zion and Jerusalem.” These words have added poignancy when we consider the painful times of war and loss the Jewish People are living through at the moment. God comforts us. He feels our pain. He is with us in our pain. And we seek to emulate His example. To be there for others in their time of great loss.

Our unredeemed world is filled with pain and loss. We know that there will come a time when “God will wipe away tears from all faces”, when “death will vanish in life eternal”. But until the promised final redemption arrives, our world desperately needs the soothing balm, the healing waters, of Divine comfort that we are blessed to be able to give one another.

With blessings,
Chief Rabbi Warren Goldstein

A message from the founder of Finding Light Through Loss, Terry Rubenstein

Grief can be a devastating, disorienting and intensely lonely experience.

When we lose a loved one, the world as we know it shifts on its axis. The anchors we have relied on to ground us psychologically, emotionally and spiritually often disappear into thin air. All grief is different and no-one can presuppose what your particular journey will be like until you undertake it.

We are launching the ‘Finding Light Through Loss’ project to coincide with the first yahrzeit of my younger sister, Lara Noik, Shulamis bas Ephraim Betzalel – an incredible mother, wife, daughter, sister, friend, colleague, social worker and community leader. Its purpose is to offer a glimmer of light providing support and resources through the journey of loss. The varied content offers profound wisdom from our Torah, as well as psychological and emotional insight and tools, to help navigate this inevitable life event we all must face.

Lara was a light to so many and will be remembered as a person who lit up a room when she walked into it. My sister’s huge smile, infectious laugh and magnetic presence left an impression long after she had left you. Lara loved and cared deeply about people. She was determined to alleviate suffering wherever she saw it, even when she herself was unwell and battling her own severe, debilitating illness.

Lara believed deeply in every person’s innate wellbeing. So many of us have felt broken-hearted by Lara’s passing. Yet we know, as her name Shulamis testifies, we are innately whole. We are not broken – though we might feel it at times. Her beautiful children are a testament to the insight and wisdom she imparted during her all too short time with us. Lara’s final words to her 16-year-old daughter epitomised what mattered to her: “Hashem doesn’t need you to be perfect. He only wants your heart” – רחמנא ליבא בעי

This project is inspired by and dedicated to Lara’s memory. We wish for it to be a continued aliyah to her neshoma; an ongoing legacy of her life-long commitment to helping others in this world.

May we all strive to emulate her ways until the coming of Moshiach, when we will once again be reunited with those we have loved and lost.

Best wishes,
Terry Rubenstein (a grieving and forever grateful big sister)

A message from Leonard Carr, Clinical Psychologist
and Consultant, South Africa

The essence captured within this resource on bereavement is of paramount significance, for it illuminates the multifaceted journey of grief, a path tread by all yet understood in depth by few. As we meander through the vicissitudes of life, the inevitability of loss clasps our hands, leading us into the shadowy realms of sorrow and remembrance. This knowledge, rich in its complexity and profound in its humanity, serves as a beacon for those navigating the tumultuous seas of mourning, offering solace, understanding, and, ultimately, a guide back to the shores of hope and renewal.

In our collective experience, grief is the price of love, a testament to the bonds that tether us to one another. To comprehend the nature of grief is to prepare oneself for the journey of healing, and to acknowledge the scars of loss as marks of our shared humanity. This resource, therefore, is not merely an exposition on the process of mourning but a manifesto on the resilience of the human spirit, an ode to the undying hope that persists in the face of despair.

As we delve into the narratives of loss and recovery, we are reminded of the universal threads that bind us, the shared language of loss that transcends cultures, religions, and personal histories. This knowledge equips us with the empathy to stand in solidarity with the bereaved, to offer a hand in the darkness, and to understand that grief, in its essence, is an expression of love undimmed by the passage of time.
Thus, the importance of this knowledge lies not only in its ability to provide comfort and understanding to those in the throes of mourning but also in its power to unite us in our most vulnerable moments. It teaches us that in the heart of grief lies the growth potential, for transformation, and a renewed appreciation for the fragile beauty of life. Through this lens, we see not just the shadows of loss but the light of hope, a reminder that even in our darkest hours, we are not alone.

*It is important to acknowledge that there are many stages, dimensions and faces to grief and loss. Whilst we have tried to cover as many of these as possible, this is just the beginning. Please be in touch via info@lightthroughloss.com if there is a particular topic or area you would like to see addressed on this website.

**When it comes to the specifics of Jewish law and practise as pertains to the topics covered, please make sure to always check with a reliable rabbinic authority.

Hespedim from the Shloshim of Lara Noik