I remember doing yoga with Daniella with our sons who are about a week apart. She was such a sweet, caring person and loved her son so much. I also remember walking to Coffee Bean one day with my son, Jack and on the way back she saw me and was walking with her son, Gavriel. She said, “where do you live?” and I responded on Sherbourne and she said “let me walk you home…”
When my husband and I got married, we decided to take our honeymoon to Hawaii, but do a stopover in L.A so we could spend shabbos there. Having never been there before, I was excited to do all the touristy Los Angelos things like the Grove, Jeff’s sausages, and Malibu. As soon as we got off the plane and checked into our hotel, my husband and I headed to the famed Grove to relax and walk around. Apparently, while there, Daniella spotted me and ran over to say hi. She heard I was eating by her friend’s house for shabbos lunch and she wanted me to know that she was going to make an effort to be there and that she felt so bad for missing my wedding because of Stern finals. She just seemed so happy to see me. We weren’t technically close, but she just made you feel that at that moment, you were her best friend. She sat with me, talking for about ten to fifteen minutes until I got around to asking what brought her to the Grove. She said she was on her way to get her hair and makeup done for a wedding she was attending that night. I asked, “aren’t you in a rush?” and she said with her radiant smile, “only a little, but I wanted to chat with you first because you just got off a plane!” To me, this small little story shows how she truly valued everyone over herself. She was willing to put aside a few minutes of her own precious time to make sure I felt welcome. Daniella was always someone who went above and beyond others, a trait that always inspired me and continues to do so till today.
Daniella Lee- Casper. She has a beautiful 5 month old son and a tzadik of a husband. She herself was a true tzadekes. I am honored to have known her.
I was her RA in Stern and we shared the rooms adjoining a bathroom. I remember hearing shiurim on loudspeaker from her room. I remember the day she picked out her wedding dress and she said that it just felt “right.” I remember when she met Noam on a shabbaton she came back and just “knew” he was the one. That was Daniella, she knew who she was, what she wanted, what was right, and she was never afraid to just be herself. She was a leader who lead by example, with the power of goodness. She didn’t have to stand up in front of a crowd to create a ripple effect of positivity wherever she went.
We reconnected later in LA, and she soon became a vibrant part of the community. She came to the valley for shabbas to my house, and she was about 7 months pregnant, calm, cool and collected. She had an inherent trust in Hashem and internalized the motto “Ivdu es Hashem b’Simcha/Serve Hashem with Happiness.” Though we didn’t see each other often, she was an extremely powerful force in my life and the lives of many, many others.
Perhaps what has always amazed me the most about Daniella is that she never judged or analyzed any person or action. She just is. Was. And she was incredible.
I always felt happier after being around Daniella; always uplifted. She had such a wonderful, loving, giving, non-judgmental aura about her; she was interested in everything; she made everyone feel special. These are traits that are simple to write down on paper, but very, very hard to do in practice, yet Daniella made it all seem natural. This is who she was, through and through — she was funny, she was smart, she was sweet, she was genuine, she was caring, she was — and is — an inspiration. May Hashem comfort us all in this time of tremendous loss.
My sister, Adeena Kempe-Halberstam, and Rachel Lee, Daniella’s sister, have been best friends for the past fourteen years. Because our families were close, our mothers scheduled a time to meet up and have dinner at Los Angeles’s local pizza shop, Pizza World. This was the first time I met Daniella Lee-Casper. I was only thirteen years old and just started to think about the next big chapter in my life, high school. Without any hesitation and with a bright smile, Daniella was happy to inform me on the ins and outs of a high school student at YULA whether it was the latest fashion on how to wear your uniform to which teachers were the most interesting to learn from. Aside from high school matters, we also talked about life in general, our big sisters being best friends, and cracked a few jokes as well.
Daniella also brought a friend along with her to Pizza World who just moved into our town and just so happened to enroll in YULA too. Daniella took it upon herself to introduce her to this new environment so she would feel as comfortable as anyone else who lived in LA would. Pizza World, one of L.A.’s #1 Kosher pizza shops, is definitely a hot spot for the LA Jewish community. We slowly drifted away from our mothers and sat at a separate booth so us “girls” could all get to know each other. We all had a great time laughing and talking about life. Daniella had such a warm personality that no one would ever feel isolated around her. The calming angelic pitch in her voice sounded as though everything in anyone’s life was going to be okay. I felt as if I can talk to her about anything that was on my mind and she would figure out a way to lessen my worries. Towards the end of the meal, the one thing that resonated within me at such a young age was how mature and astonishing Daniella truly was.
I finally made my way to YULA Girls High School. I reunited with Daniella and saw the same Pizza World smile every morning at davening making sure I was comfortable and included. Daniella graduated from YULA, went on to seminary, got married to Noam Casper, moved to the same block as me, and had a beautiful baby boy, Gavriel. Although Daniella and I were not so close, I saw Daniella often walking her Gavriel up and down the block. Again, Daniella would always stop and greet me with her naturally glowing demeanor. I learned a lot from Daniella over the course I have known her. She taught me that it doesn’t matter who you are, or where you’re from, or what you look like, always greet everyone with a smile, and never be quick to judge anyone. Make sure to include everyone, and genuinely care about the people around you. I will continue to live in her memory by incorporating her lifestyle into mine as well. Daniella, you will never be forgotten.
It was only months ago as I sat across the table from Daniella and her special husband celebrating the holiday of Succos . Discussing our futures me as a soon to be graduate and Danielle as an already hard working daughter, mother, and wife. I asked her Danielle.. How do you do it all? to which she replied with a smile across her face ” with loving parents, siblings and husband anything is possible”. This is the out look she had in life. She never looked at something as a punishment rather as a test to make her stronger.
Hashem blessed her husband, son, parents, and siblings with an “angel” who took the titles of mommy, wife, sister, and daughter. The years that she spent on this world were years of happiness and a proper Torah hashkafas, we all know that she is watching over all of us now from her chair in shamayim and shepping nachas from her family and friends.
My deepest condolences to the entire Lee Family on this loss. May we share in only simchos and happy times together!
Dear Daniella’s son, husband, and family,
My name is Faygel Beren and I was privileged to get to know Daniella in Camp HASC, Stern College, and Los Angeles (when my parents moved there three years ago).
I can still see a picture of Daniella lovingly touch her forehead to one of her little campers–a totally sublime moment–at which you know, her Neshama was connecting to this little pure soul, soothing the child that due to disability knows little of a true state of calmness.
I also remember Daniella as a devoted, focused student at Stern College. She was eager to become an accountant and follow in her father’s path. And anytime one had the opportunity to hear Daniella speak of her parents, he or she would become immediately envious of the tremendous kibud av viaim this woman must have demonstrated throughout her life. Her love for her family was so so so evident and radiated with such sincerity.
I never saw Daniella not smiling. She was someone who loved life, someone who loved being an observant Jew, someone who made you feel the world was absolutely beautiful. I remember Daniella once talking to me about her spiritual journey. From that conversation I garnered that she was a woman not afraid to change and to grow, in order to reach a higher level of spirituality and become closer to the Ribono Shel Olam. She was an Eshet Chayil, in many senses, but especially in the sense of her boldness and courage to move forward spiritually and to continually grow.
During college, when my parents moved to Los Angeles from Baltimore, I was going through a difficult time. The move was hard on me. When I came to visit my parents in Los Angeles for Shabbos, I was so surprised to see Daniella Lee-Casper at Young Israel! Of course, Daniella davened in Young Israel whenever she came to visit her parents, but at the time I did not know that. Though we had not seen each other for a very long time, she gave me the biggest smile when I came into the women’s section. After davening, she came over to me, we talked, and in that conversation, she offered me total unconditional friendship if I were to ever need anything when I was in LA. In addition, she was so eager for our parents to meet each other so that they could host us for a Shabbos. When talking to her, my worries about LA, about being anonymous in this new city melted away. At that moment I was with a true friend, Daniella Lee!
This past Pesach my mother and I walked with Daniella and Mrs. Lee after Shul. We were four women (2 sets of mothers and daughters, and Daniella on her way to becoming a mother herself!), full of simcha for the chag and excited to learn more about each other. I remember my mother talking to me after we parted ways with the Lees and said “That is the sweetest girl I ever met.”
That was Daniella to so many of us: the sweetest girl you ever met.
Hamakom Yinachem Eschem Bisoch Shaar Evlei Tzion ViYirushalayim,