All Living Souls - An ALS Song
Last Updated: November 14th, 2006
Click the play button to your right to listen to this inspirational song inspired by Dr. Rahamim Melamed-Cohen who has lived with ALS for 12 years. The music was created by Rahamim's nephew David Koren, and submitted to ALSforums by email.
The song is composed and sung by Rahamim's nephew, David Koren. David wrote to ALSforums to share this song in hopes that the song, the lyrics, and the story about his Uncle would inspire others living with ALS.
About the Singer/Composer, David Koren
All Living Souls was inspired by the nephew of Rahamim Melamed, David Koren. David was inspired by his Uncle's fight with ALS.
David wrote to ALSforums with the following:
We appreciate the submission and are more than happy to post this song and information about his Uncle.
If you like the song please take a moment to post some comments for David Koren, and his Uncle.
All Living Souls: Song Lyrics
How do you touch without sorrow
Striving in pain
How do you chant without crying
Bells now are ringing
Whatever there is
Song Inspired By Dr. Rahamim Melamed-Cohen
Excerpt and Photos From: AISH.COM
At the age of 57, he had everything going for him. He was handsome, athletic, happily married, the father of six children, and successful in his career. Dr. Rahamim Melamed-Cohen, with a Ph.D. in Special Education, held a leading position in Israel's Ministry of Education, served as Head of the Education Dept. in a Jerusalem college, and pioneered Special Education programs throughout Israel.
Then one day, he felt a weakness in his left shoulder. Soon the weakness spread down his arm to his fingers. When he made Kiddush on Shabbat night, the Kiddush cup shook and the wine spilled.
He and his wife Elisheva made the rounds of neurologists, until one doctor gave them the dread diagnosis: ALS, also known as "Lou Gehrig's Disease."
The doctor spelled out for them the entire course of the disease: first his limbs would become paralyzed, to be followed by the muscles of his neck, esophagus, and tongue. "The day will come," he told Rahamim, "when a fly will land on your nose and you won't be able to brush it off. You will become dependent on other people for everything." And in the final stage, his lungs would stop working. "You have three to five years to live."
That was 12 years ago. Three of the doctors who attended on him have since died, but Rahamim Melamed-Cohen, while completely paralyzed, is still going strong. Since the onset of his illness, he has written seven books, the latest by means of a computer that types by his eye movements. Until a year ago, when he could still speak clearly, he gave lectures on educational methodology to students in his living room. He maintains a voluminous email correspondence with readers who look to him for encouragement and wisdom. He prays thrice daily and attends synagogue every Shabbat. And he and his wife go out regularly, to the theater, to weddings, and to restaurants, although Rahamim himself no longer eats except through a feeding tube to his stomach. As Elisheva explains, "Although he doesn't eat, he sits with us." His company is obviously worth the effort.
From the beginning, Rahamim decided to stay one step ahead of the disease. Anticipating the paralysis of his legs, he installed an elevator to carry him up to his second-floor apartment. When one hand was still good enough to press the buttons on his special wheelchair, he had a control mechanism installed on the back of the wheelchair for the stage when he would not be able to drive it himself. While he could still speak clearly, he researched and located the ingenious American-made computer that is now his principal means of communication.
Yet, with all his preparations, he did not prepare for the inevitable moment that strikes all ALS sufferers: the final moment when the paralysis creeps into the lungs. One day, six and a half years ago, Elisheva heard her husband straining to breathe. She called an ambulance. The medics arrived at the same moment that Rahamim's breathing stopped. They resuscitated him and rushed him to the hospital. There Elisheva made the decision to hook her husband up to a respirator rather than let him die.
"Everything would have been different in one minute," Elisheva recalls, "if I hadn't called the ambulance. And there was a doctor in the emergency room who said to me, 'Why did you resuscitate him?' This was very terrible to hear."
"If they had let me die, I would have missed the best and most important years of my life."
When he regained consciousness, Rahamim himself was not sure that being kept alive by a respirator was the best decision. Now, however, he asserts, "If they had let me die, I would have missed the best and most important years of my life."
His daily struggle with survival has taught him a vital lesson about the vast, untapped potential inherent in every person. "Before, I didn't believe that I have such inner strength. I learned that every human being has sparks that he can transform into a burning flame."
Although he had written articles and lectured extensively before his illness, this new phase of his life has opened up wellsprings of creativity. Since the onset of his illness, he has written seven books: two about education; two on Jewish subjects; one book of personal anecdotes; one book of poetry; and Choose Life, a collection of his musings about life and advice to the chronically ill.
Belief & Determination
Dr. Melamed-Cohen believes that many other people suffering from terminal illness or serious disability give up due to three reasons:
While many advocates of euthanasia admit that Dr. Melamed-Cohen's life on life-support systems is definitely worth sustaining, they claim that he is an exception. Dr. Melemed-Cohen himself disagrees. "Maybe I am special, but the principles can be applied to other people as well. Not everyone has to produce so much, but everyone can fulfill his life in his own way. Rather than always talking about 'death with honor,' why not put the same effort into sustaining 'life with honor'? They can do this by encouraging patients and by bringing them volunteers to help them. Instead of prodding them to finish their lives, prod them to live their lives."
At 68, Rahamim's daily schedule would daunt many healthy people his age. He starts out his day by praying Shacharit, the morning service. His friend Yitzchak comes daily to put tefillin on him. Then he and Yitzchak learn Torah for an hour.
Then he works: writing his books, which sometimes entail considerable research, either on the internet or in the comprehensive Judaic library he has on disc; answering his email correspondence (he receives on average ten letters a day); and doing artwork on computer.
Read the rest of the article (about 5 pages) at the aish.com website, the article titled The Hero Within.