Inspiration of the Month

A Mother’s Story – Iyar 5774

Chana Sharfstein narrates the moving story of her daughter Zlati, diagnosed with Autism when it was unknown and misunderstood.

By COLlive reporter

When Zlata Esther “Zlati” Sharfstein, the daughter of Rabbi Mottel and Chana Sharfstein, was diagnosed with Autism, the medical condition was only in its infancy.

There were no occupational therapists, physical therapists or early intervention to assist the child. Few resources such as day camps, schools or residential centers were available.

As what was known about the condition was very little, there was a lack of support and understanding of the needs of this population. Medical insurance plans were not available at the time for those diagnosed, adding financial burden to families seeking advice from neurologists, psychiatrists and costly exams.

In these circumstances Zlati’s mother was determined to create a good life for her, despite the great challenges and obstacles. Living on a tight budget, Zlati’s needs were a priority. Beans and rice and potatoes, interesting casseroles, were often served for dinner. There was no extra money for cleaning help or babysitting. To top this off, there was a lack of understanding and support from within the Jewish community.

At her funeral, Zlata’s mother said, “Today my daughter Zlata could finally feel at peace. She has a pure Neshamah. She was pure from the beginning. She was pure her whole life. She is going back to G-d in purity.”

“Just all realize that special people are special people and we have to love them just as much as we love everybody else, because their souls are the purest and the holiest.”

Zlati’s life history, the over-medication of drugs administered in a residential center that destroyed and shortened her life, will be presented in a video at her Shloshim. Here’s a preview:

The Shloshim will be an evening of inspiration will include Zlati’s mother discussing the trial and tribulations of being a pioneer parent in the world of autism. Additional speakers will be presented.

The evening will encourage the understanding, and compassion and a world of greater kindness for those with special needs.

The Shloshim will take place on Tuesday, April 29th at Chabad of Yonkers, 600 North Broadway, Yonkers, NY, 10701.

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