Ayelet Galena’s January death, at the age of 2, from a rare bone marrow disease, set off a wave of mourning that spanned time zones and oceans.
Some 14,000 people around the world had been following the little girl’s fight for her life on the family’s Eye on Ayelet blog. For months, as Ayelet was prepped for a bone marrow transplant, as she progressed and as she deteriorated, her mother, Hindy Poupko Galena, was her constant companion.
Eye on Ayelet, a collaboration between Poupko Galena and her husband, Seth Galena, was infused with humor and optimism. But the Galenas never sugar-coated the realities of parenting a critically ill child. As Ayelet’s condition worsened, they posted photographs of the once-energetic blue-eyed toddler unconscious in a hospital bed, tubes emanating from her tiny body.
The online journal fostered a community of people: Countless strangers sent cards and challahs, and offered their prayers. It also created an extended support network for the Galena family. “[W]e found tremendous comfort in the universe of friends and families and strangers standing with us both virtually and in reality,” Poupko Galena, 29, director of Israel & International Affairs at the Jewish Community Relations Council of New York, told the Forward earlier this year.
The impact of Ayelet’s journey has been lasting. Bone marrow donor drives held on her behalf have found potentially life-saving matches for 52 people, according to the Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. And in Montreal, where Poupko Galena’s father is a prominent rabbi, a Sefer Torah was recently commissioned in Ayelet’s name.