‘I Lost Someone Special’: A Conversation With Bracha Goetz
By Rochelle Maruch Miller
Bracha Goetz is no ordinary author. The author of 29 books, she is dedicated to helping every child shine. Her latest book, I Lost Someone Special: Mitzvos We Can Do in Memory of a Loved One, puts the loss of a loved one in the proper perspective by explaining that we can still connect to one who has passed on by learning Torah and doing mitzvos for the benefit of the neshamah. Its gentle language connects the valuable lesson that every child, even when very young, can have an impact on the neshamos of those who have passed on.
Through this engaging book, children will be able to take the important step of transforming their feelings into positive actions for the benefit of their loved ones.
In this interview with the 5TJT, Mrs. Goetz discusses her advocacy for children and takes us “behind the scenes” of her latest book.
Rochelle Maruch Miller: Bracha, you are a passionate and active advocate for children. Please tell us about some of the issues you are involved in, as well as your motivation for becoming involved in these causes.
Bracha Goetz: I live in Baltimore, where I have been coordinating a Big Brother/Big Sister program at Jewish Community Services that has been serving the Jewish community for the past 15 years. When I became aware of the devastating effect of abuse and how it scars young people, I was strongly motivated to do something to try to alleviate this widespread problem. I felt that the most important action I could take to help Jewish children from being targeted by predators who take advantage of their innocence and naiveté was to write a children’s book geared to children that would educate them about this. Although I first wrote Talking About Private Places, which focuses on this topic, my Let’s Stay Safe book, which includes other safety topics as well, was published earlier.
RMM: What other causes are you passionate about?
BG: I am also an advocate for lots of other things. Eating healthfully is one of the things about which I am passionate, which is why I wrote Hashem’s Candy Store—to educate our community’s children about the joy of eating Hashem’s amazing goodies. And Let’s Stay Pure, for instance, is about developing the skills to be able to distinguish between what is helpful for us to ingest from the environmental influences that surround us, and what is not nourishing for a neshamah to absorb.
RMM: What inspired you to write this book?
BG: The founder and president of the wonderful Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, the Society for Mishnah Study, called me to ask if I would be interested in writing a children’s book to help children understand how they can maintain a relationship with a loved one who has passed away. I guess Rabbi H. contacted me because, as he wrote in his introduction to I Lost Someone Special, he saw me as an author who “handled a difficult topic with her trademark creativity and sensitivity.” From the minute he described what he envisioned, I was excited about the challenge of writing about this deep topic in a sweet and uplifting way that children could comprehend.
RMM: How did you bring it to fruition?
BG: A dedicated and talented supporter of Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, Mrs. Robin Davina Meyerson, from Scottsdale, Arizona, had written a story that served as the inspiration for the book. She has also created a curriculum for schools on various grade levels for teaching children about this topic.
Thank G‑d, I was able to find an excellent illustrator for the book, Chani Judowitz, who met with Rabbi H’s approval. Rabbi H, Rabbi Noach Orlowek, Rabbi Dr. Dovid Fox, and his team of therapists at Chai Lifeline, reviewed every single detail in the book, making it better and better with each of their thoughtful insights.
RMM: How was Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah involved in the process?
BG: Initially, I was unaware of the wide range of unique and valuable services that Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah provides, but over the course of the year in which I Lost Someone Special was produced, I got an education about its work. I became aware that this great organization provides many ways to bring z’chusim (merits) to beloved souls who have departed as well as z’chusim for others through custom-designed learning programs by devoted talmidei chachamim (Torah scholars). I also learned that Rabbi H is committed to spreading knowledge far and wide through its publications (such as The Neshamah Should Have an Aliyah and Mishnas Chayim), CDs, and videos for adults, teens, and children about the Torah’s wisdom. These are all impacting the souls of the departed, while impacting the lives of those living in this world as well.
RMM: What response has the book elicited thus far?
BG: We were encouraged by our expert consultants about the need for this book. Before the book was released, our team tested the efficacy of the manuscript and illustrations on a vast variety of Orthodox professionals, including many therapists, educators, and children; the results were phenomenal. Thank G‑d, I Lost Someone Special: Mitzvos We Can Do in Memory of a Loved One is achieving its goal of showing children, in a gentle and inspiring way, how they can stay connected with loved ones.
RMM: Bracha, it’s been a pleasure speaking with you and learning about your endeavors and accomplishments on behalf of our children. What message would you like to convey to our readers?
BG: Thank you, Rochelle. Thank G‑d, our community is in the process of evolving courageously in its response to abuse, divorce, children who have lost a loved one, mental illness, corruption, unhealthy eating, addictions, and special needs. We are blessed to live in a time when we can clearly see that each of our distinct abilities and each of our individual struggles are needed in order to help more goodness be revealed. We all have missions to fulfill. And as our actions come to align with the Torah’s guidelines for living, our light can radiate more, brightening the whole world.
I Lost Someone Special: Mitzvos We Can Do in Memory of a Loved One is available from Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah, Judaicapress.com, Amazon.com, and Jewish bookstores. Chevrah Lomdei Mishnah can be contacted at 732-364-7029 or at info@ChevrahLomdeiMishnah.org.