Tobi Friesler

Tobi.jpgTobi lived with an uncommonly rare illness: Late Onset Tay-Sachs (LOTS). This condition went unnoticed throughout elementary school and into her middle school years until a relative noticed that she had an unusual gait.

After going to a specialist, she was diagnosed and told about the astronomically small chance she had of acquiring this disease. She said, "I remember my father leaving with me from that appointment and telling me I must be "special" because the odds were so low. I remember thinking that I'd rather not be so special."

It is an understatement to say that Tobi was uncommonly brave and accepting of the inevitable loss of her bodily functions that robbed her of her independence. Even when she reached the point where she would live in a nursing home to receive the proper care, she continued to greet each person cheerfully, never complaining and always showing great interest in the lives of others. Her triumph over negativity was heroic.

Along the same lines, she was a social creature who loved to laugh, even after she had little to laugh about. It seems everyone knew her, mostly from a wide and welcoming smile that was so genuine, giving no hint of her life burdens.

Tobi was fiercely committed to her Jewish heritage. She lived and worked in Israel as a young adult and always dreamed of returning. This vision was never realized, given the nature of her condition. Her pictures,stories, and so many positive memories came from her experience living there. She spoke Hebrew fluently.

With the help of her friends, Tobi was able to reach climb to the top of Massada, one her greatest achievements.

Often, Tobi spoke with great excitement about her many adventures as a youth in Jewish summer camp. These experiences also helped shape her Jewish identity and her life-long social connections.

So many have asked how they can honor her memory. What better way than to provide opportunities for local youth with special needs to enjoy the same enriching Jewish experience that Tobi so dearly treasured. Your support will make this vision a reality.