Temple Adat Elohim
You are here:Home > About Us > TAE In The News > Temple Brings Shabbat to Homebound Preschooler

Temple Brings Shabbat to Homebound Preschooler

October 22, 2009 Thousand Oaks Acorn
Alanna and Jordan Tilles Alanna and Jordan Tilles Every Friday morning at 9:30 the 150 preschool students at Temple Adat Elohim in Thousand Oaks shout good morning to classmate Jordan Tilles, who cannot come to school.
Using Skype, a service that allows users to communicate online through video and audio, students include Jordan in the weekly schoolwide Sabbath gathering held in the temple sanctuary. The students sing songs; say the blessings over the candles, wine and bread; and recognize those celebrating birthdays that week. At home in Camarillo’s Santa Rosa Valley, Jordan sits on her mother’s lap and watches.
“She usually has a stuffed animal of some kind she bounces up and down and makes it clap its hands. She rocks back and forth and sings a lot,” said Deborah Bass, Jordan’s mother. “She really enjoys it.”
In July, Jordan, who turned 3 in August, was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia. She must remain at home while undergoing long-term treatment. Her twin sister, Alanna, attends the preschool, and Jordan will someday join her in the classroom.
When the synagogue clergy and staff heard about Jordan’s illness, they rallied to help the family. At first, Cantor David Shukiar made the 20-minute drive to the family’s home to do Shabbat with Jordan. But when her immunity was compromised because of the therapy she must undergo, Shukiar’s visits had to stop. The cantor came up with the idea to use Skype.
“This is the time this family needs to feel connected the most, needs to feel our love the most,” Shukiar said.
But the wireless Internet signal strength in the sanctuary wasn’t strong enough to provide a clear Skype signal through Shukiar’s laptop. Past president Ken Elman installed a different wireless network and ran a 200foot cable from the gift shop computer connection to the sanctuary so Shukiar could plug in his laptop to boost the signal.
“All the kids know about Jordan,” said Shukiar, who leads the weekly service with rabbis Ted Riter and Rebecca Dubowe. “To see her watching us on the computer, to see her dancing around with her stuffed animals, to take her away for 30 minutes a week from what she has to go through is worth all the effort. She is an amazing little girl, and this family has been really inspiring with how they’re handling things.”
Jordan was diagnosed after visiting the emergency room three times in one week for severe abdominal pain and bone pain. Blood tests ordered by the pediatrician and a visit to an oncologist confirmed the diagnosis, said Bass, whose husband, Ira Tilles, is an emergency room doctor.
“We were shocked when we got the diagnosis,” said Bass, who is a science system engineer with JPL in Pasadena, where she supervises 15 people working on strategic planning for the Mars exploration program.
Jordan is in the fourth month of a 30-month treatment cycle. Her prognosis for recovery is 90 percent. The first six months are the most difficult, Bass said, noting that this is when Jordan’s immunity drops and she loses her hair. Two weeks ago the little girl learned to take pills whole with a glass of water rather than crushed up in jam.
“Jordan is an amazing little girl,” her mother said. “I’m just so proud of her.”
Jordan stays at home with limited visitors. Having a sibling helps with the socialization she needs at this age, Bass said, and the additional one-on-one time with her parents has also been beneficial. Her mother describes Jordan as a sensitive and perceptive child who loves pink and has great fashion sense.
“Thank goodness she has a sister she can hold hands with, play dress-up with and steal toys from,” Bass said. “But the girls are having different experiences and growing in different directions.”
She commended the temple staff for its support.
“We are so fortunate to be part of this community,” Bass said. “This is just so hard, and we can’t do it alone, so to have all these people helping us is making a huge difference.”
She encouraged those needing help to reach out.
“Don’t be afraid to ask because you might just be surprised. I’ve been shocked by the support that we’ve received,” Bass said. “It’s what you hope and wish for, but you hope that you never need it either.”
She also credited her in-laws, Sheldon and Tobi Tilles, retired school teachers who live nearby, with providing tremendous support.
“The family support has been tremendous,” Bass said. “We are going to get through this. It’s just a matter of time.”
(Your shopping cart is empty)