Tuesday, May 23, 2006

In Memory of Elisheva Buxbaum - Rape Victim Advocate

The Awareness Center is dedicated to the memory of
Elisheva Chana Buxbaum

 Rape Victim Advocate

Jerusalem, Israel
July 8th 1959 - May 22 2006
(Tammuz 2, 5719 - Iyar 24 5766)

There are people you will meet in your life with whom will have an impact on your soul and influence you in ways that you cannot even begin to imagine. For me Elisheva Buxbaum was one of those individuals.

Elisheva was one of the most spiritual people I have ever met. Her quietness could be quite deafening. All one needed to do was to listen closely and you'd start to learn what was really going on in some orthodox communities in Jerusalem and many other locations throughout Israel.

I met Elisheva Buxbaum while I was living in Jerusalem. I had known her brother Rabbi Benyamin Buxbaum online for several months prior to my move to Israel. At the time I was running a media watch group called "CNN-WATCH."  During our many e-mail exchanges, Benyamin learned of my background working with sexual trauma and of my long time dreams of creating an international organization to address sexual abuse in Jewish communities. Because of the work I wanted to be doing and because of his sisters interests Benyamin introduced me to his younger sister Elisheva, who was an extremely soft spoken rape victim advocate.

Elisheva Buxbaum had no formal education or training in the field, yet did what she could to connect survivors in Jerusalem with appropriate resources.

Elisheva's influence really motivated me to create The Awareness Center. It saddens me a great deal to know that Elisheva lost her battle with cancer on May 22, 2006.

As her brother Benyamin stated "Eliesheva was a selfless friend of many and strong in her faith in Hashem."

Vicki Polin
Executive Director
The Awareness Center, Inc.
In Memory of A Dear Friend
Elisheva Buxbaum - Rape Victim Advocate
October 10, 2007

Last year I sent out a message letting you know about the passing of a dear friend. Elisheva Buxbaum spent most of her adult life advocating for survivors of sex crimes. I recently received the following e-mail and wanted to share it with you (see below).

If anyone else has stories they would like to share about Elisheva, please forward them to Vicki Polin. I would like to post them on her site and also share them with her family.


Sara Yocheved Rigler, author of "Holy Woman," recently published a book called "Lights from Jerusalem." In it, she has a chapter about Elisheva Buxbaum. 

Here are a few excerpts:

"...The most moving evidence of hashgachah pratis attached to Holy Woman involved the very person who first introduced me to Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer.  In the summer of 1985, I had been in Israel barely a month. Hearing that I was a writer, someone who was trying to put together a book called A Spiritual Guide to Eretz Yisrael (which was never published) asked me to write a chapter on "Holy Women."

I was at a loss as to how to track down such women when a stranger told me, "You have to call Elisheva Buxbaum. She knows everyone worth knowing." The person gave me Elisheva's phone number, and I called her. She told me that I must meet Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer, who lived in a moshav named Kfar Gidon, north of Afula.... I never met Elisheva nor spoke to her again. I turned the key that she had given me and walked through the portal into the aura of the holy tzaddekes Chaya Sara Kramer, and my life was forever changed. But by the time I realized how much I owed Elisheva, I had lost the scrap of paper with her phone number..."

...I started doing research. Often, at the end of an interview, the interviewee would ask me, "How did you meet Rebbetzin Kramer?"

I would answer lamely, 'Someone named Elisheva told me about her.' By Chanukah 2005 the book was almost completed... [At a Melaveh Malkah]...I was relieved to spot my old friend Nechama Bergman... [After describing the book]...Nechama answered, Rebbetzin Chaya Sara Kramer!

Elisheva and I used to go visit her all the time." I was stunned. 'Y-y-you know Elisheva?' I finally managed to stutter.

'Of course, she's one of my best friends. She and I used to go up to Kfar Gidon and visit the Kramers all the time.' [After learning that Elisheva was very sick]...The next morning I called. Elisheva remembered me...

We arranged that I would visit the next day...

...I had known friends in the final stages of cancer, but I was totally unprepared for the sight that greeted me in Elisheva's room. The sheet covering her body barely rose from the mattress. Her shoulder and neck were skeletally thin, and the skin of her face was taut lik photos of concentration camp survivors. Yet, set into that emaciated face was a broad, radiant smile. As we talked, the smile never waned, except when it was replaced by a jubilant laugh.

Gazing at Elisheva, my cognitive dissonance was total. There was almost no body left except for that broad smile. I felt like I was conversing with a soul almost shorn of its body...

After an hour I left, promising to return again with the manuscript of the book that owed its existence to Elisheva...

[After discovering a photo of Elisheva when she was healthy]

... I took the picture, copied it, framed it, and brought it as a gift to Elisheva, with the manuscript. She was thrilled to receive it...

A month later, she finished reading the manuscript. In a faint voice she told me, "I love it."
...A few weeks later Elisheva Chana bas Avraham died.

...knowing that she had been the catalyst for a book that would exert a profound effect on thousands of readers

... I have often felt that, since Rebbetzin Chaya Sara was childless, everyone who reads Holy Woman and is inspired to grow becomes the Rebbetzin's spiritual child. Elisheva also died childless. The readers of Holy Woman are no less her spiritual children."

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