Daniella Lee-Casper, I remember when I first met you. I met you when I was going to Israel my first time and you sat right by me on the airplane. We talked for hours about what we want out of our lives, our Jewish morals and values….I remember when I decided to become frum you were also the first person I wanted to share the news with. You were so inspiring and kind towards me and encouraged me towards a decision that would help impact me for the rest of my life. And the book you were reading on the plane called “The Life and Legacy of Rabbi Shlomo Freifeld”. I ended up buying it and am still working through reading it… However, I won’t forget your enthusiasm about Judaism and your love for your people and life.We always used to write back and forth to each other and somehow she managed to never forget to write me back as facebook was our main communication due to distance throughout the time I have known her since…She would write me back like a month later completely apologizing and stating how she did not forget me because she genuinely cared about people, her people and all people. She found value in making herself so indispensable to others and this made her a very special girl. The way I see it, Daniella was a flower that always was looking for a new way to blossom and grow. It is easy to miss someone like her because people like her are rare to find nowadays which is why I know Hashem must have had a reason to take her. I will miss you and you will be missed by all those whom love you in which hearts you have touched. Thinking back, I can see how she completed her mission in life because of how anything she did, she did whole heartedly while trying to keep this constant learning and finding beauty in life to illuminate who she was through Torah and honoring god. May her neshama escalate in shemayim…… A”H You were such an amazing person and you will be remembered by klal yisrael l’olam va’ed…<3
This past Sunday, February 16, I ran in the Ft. Lauderdale A1A half marathon with Team HASC, the same team Daniella came to support last year when the marathon was in LA. Many of us were Camp HASC counselors, as was Daniella a few years prior. During seudah shelishit, Daniella’s friend, Esther, spoke to us about Daniella and what a wonderful person she was. She said Daniella was an amazing counselor at Camp HASC, as “she did not only just fulfill the campers exact needs, but she would make that extra effort to really make it the best summer for her campers that she possibly could.” Although I was not zoche to meet Daniella, the way in which her friend described her was so inspiring. I learned so much about her incredible neshama just from that speech, and I know her memory will always be for a blessing.
“How are you? How are you coping?”, questions I get regularly to which I reply “lousy” and “not well.”
The loss of our beloved daughter Daniella is a tragedy we pray that no one has to live through. It is an unbearable burden and yet somehow we have to march on.
Rabbi Moshe Rosenstein, co-founder of Tomer Devorah, the seminary that Daniella attended, suggests that I share with Daniella’s friends some of the thoughts that have keep me sane during these trying times. I apologize in advance if at times I appear to be rambling.
First of all, I must thank everyone who has posted a memory, signed up to do a mitzvah or committed to learn something in Daniella’s honor. The outpouring of love and affection has been very comforting. As an aside, although all mitzvah’s are important and good, I think that Daniella would have favored mitzvahs “beyn adam le chavero” (man to man) because they tend to make the world a better place and become contagious. If you do something nice to someone hopefully they will do something nice to someone else.
The first few days we were consumed with complete and absolute grief. We were numb. We could not comprehend what had happened and how our lives would be forever changed. But when we heard all of the wonderful things that people were saying about her and the mitzvahs they were doing in her honor we had to struggle with reconciling our grief with the naches she was bringing us. We love her so much and she has made us so proud of the fine young woman she became.
How do we cope? First I remember that that we found out that Kerri was pregnant with Daniella the day my father. Sam Lee, Menachem Yishiyaho, died. It was January 26, 1989. Daniella came into the world 7 months later but we needed her right then and there to get us through with hope for what the future would bring.
My father was a Holocaust survivor. He was born in 1909 in Czechoslovakia, got married and had four children. When WWII broke out he was taken to a forced labor camp where he barely survived for five years. In Pesach 1944, his first wife, four children and both parents were taken to a ghetto and then two months later to Auschwitz where they were murdered.
After the war my father married my mother. They moved to Paris where my brother was born. From there they moved to Israel where my sister was born and from there they moved to Montreal where I was born. All of the moves were the result of terrible economic conditions and the search for a better life. Canada was very cold so when I was 18 months old the family headed out to Los Angeles, where my father was told that the weather was like Israel. My parents had no relatives or friends in Los Angeles but remaining in Canada was not an option.
In spite of all the tragedies and hardships my parents faced, they never gave up. My father lost his entire family in the war but started over to build a new family based on principles of honesty and integrity and always committed to his Jewish faith. All three of us went to Jewish day schools and regularly attended minyan at our local shul. We were raised being shomer Torah and mitzvahs and my father set an example for us by not being bitter.
My father was a strong man physically and spiritually and was an incredible role model. I think it is no coincidence that his yahrzeit was on the day that shiva ended for Daniella. She came into the world to give us solace on his passing and his passing was to give us strength on her passing. We have to follow his example of being strong and understanding that we do not know what G-d has in store for us but we have to believe that whatever it is, it is only for good.
Finally, and some may find this to be a coincidence, but it is of great comfort to us to know that at the shiva there were several donation plates and that the total amount raised through shiva amounted to $613! Daniella was committed to Torah, her email address contained the number 613 and I believe that this is a sign from G-d that he is watching over her and us and that things will somehow work out.
I pray that we all can meet only at simchas and that no one has to endure the great loss our family has suffered.
Frank Lee, Daniella’s loving father
P.S. A good friend of ours suggested that I ask Daniella’s friends to write a letter to Gavi to be opened when he turns 18 about what she meant to them. Just a thought.
Those that can remember their first few days of seminary can testify to how hard they can be when you are in a new place with a bunch of new girls that you don’t know yet… these pictures with Daniella were all taken within the first week of our shana aleph in Tomer Devorah. Daniella Lee-Casper was one of the first girls to introduce herself to me, initiate a friendship, and unbeknownst to her, she immediately made me feel less homesick. I will never forget that. Daniella, you were a tzadekes and an eishes chayil in its true meaning and you had a tremendous impact on everyone around you. You are loved by so many and we have no doubt that you will storm the gates of shamayim on behalf of the entire klal yisroel.
Some ideals to strive for. Many of them reached by Daniella on a daily basis.
Daniella was my mother’s student for three years at YULA. They were very close especially after Daniella graduated. Daniella would call and come by often.
But my relationship with Daniella began when I was 10 years old, the summer of 2009, when she came over to help my mother with my brother’s Bar mitzvah invitations (as she always did chessed). We started shmoozing and I decided that I really liked her. She was lively, fun,understanding and caring. She told me she would take me out to coffee bean so we could have another talk. We went out, and I couldn’t help but share all my thoughts, feelings and worries. I felt like she was my new big sister and best friend! She made it seem like I had an equal amount to offer in our “friendship”. She took me to her parents house so I could “help her” make dinner. She took me for walks and talks which were an important part of my “tween” years. I loved when she would come with Noam on Shabbos afternoon. There was always a special feeling in the room when they were there together.
I love her and miss her very much. I don’t know how I will go on. I’m 14 and my life is changed forever. I keep a picture of her in my desk at school. My life is not complete without her here and will never ever be.
Shayna Yaffa Abady
I met Daniella about a year ago when I moved into the same apartment building as her, immediately she came up to me and introduced herself i was like wow she’s so friendly..and i wish i can say from there we became best friends..we didn’t. There was just too little time. Daniella always had a huge smile on her face i just wish i can take a step back and made the time to get closer to her. This past sukot i think it was, i needed to light for chag and didn’t have a candle so i went to to borrow one she was so kind and gave me one. But the next night of chag 2 minutes before lighting i hear a knock at my door and its Daniella checking to see if i needed a light.
Daniella was so true and so genuine always so ready to help anyone, she was someone that i want to be now. In her honor i will try and be as genuine and kind as her and be ready so quickly to help a friend or stranger in need without thinking twice and i pray to hashem that this will make her neshama reach the highest of highest levels and she should beg hashem for moshiach now. i cant beleive such an angel is gone . She was so special her neshama needed to be so close to hashem. I miss you daniella
I met Daniella at Sharei Tefilah about five years ago after I had just moved to Los Angeles. I was so shy and never spoke to anyone when I would go to shul on Shabbos. The first Shabbos I saw Daniella, she came right up to me and introduced herself and invited me to sit with her and her friends. She introduced me to other girls at the shul and even asked what I was doing for lunch. She made me feel so welcomed. As time went on, she always remembered my name and pretty much anything I ever told her about myself. Her smile always made me feel happy and comfortable, like I belonged although I was still new to the community. She was a very special woman, one of a kind. I will never forget her kindness.
It’s still a shock that Daniella is no longer here, and the truth is I can’t understand why she had to go so soon. I suppose if she were still here, and I had the chance to ask her why someone like her leaves the world so early, leaves a beloved family, she would find a way to impart to me with some of her unwavering emunah.
We were at YULA together, and many of my memories of her are of a bright, happy, cheerful girl who was constantly alight, and so sincerely committed to Judaism that her love of Torah and Hashem was evident in everything aspect of her life. I remember we did a project together in Freshmen English, and she offered her house for us to film it. Of the group of four of us, she was the positive one, the one who made us laugh, who kept the peace, smoothed things over when issues came up. When we were in high school I saw her at NCSY shabbatons consistently, singing, talking to anyone and everyone, making people feel welcomed, and always, always with a smile on her face. Recently I saw her on a shabbaton again, both of us as advisors, and she with her husband and baby. I remember how she greeted me with a smile, seemed genuinely happy to see me and catch up with me even though we were never very close, and also that I left her with a smile on my face. I suppose now we can only hope that our memory of her buoyant emunah will help us get through this challenging time. You will be missed, Daniella.
I am good friends with Daniella’s sister Rachel. Any story I ever heard about Daniella rang of commitment to yiddishkeit.
I remember Rachel mentioning to me that Daniella had gone to shul on Yom Kippur, just a few weeks after giving birth to Gavriel. I was in awe and felt a tremendous amount of respect for her, especially since I stayed home with my kids!
Daniella has been a powerful source of inspiration to me over the past few days.
She has inspired me to work on my relationship with others and on my connection to Hashem. Any mitzvah I do is in her zechus. Thank you Daniella.