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  • Orna Hillman

In Memoriam: Dalia Hillman

By Orna Hillman

Dalia Bertha bat Yocheved v’Avraham ztl, was niftar on 15 Iyar/27th April 2021. She was born and raised in Manchester, daughter to great baalei chesed, and she closely followed their example.

After completing a degree in Biomedical Technology are Sheffield University, Dalia settled in Israel. She worked as a biomedical technologist in Haddasah Hospital and was a much loved and esteemed colleague. On one occasion she transported her research to NASA. She would be very thrilled to learn that a drug project she worked on for many years in the area of toxic shock syndrome, is about to achieve FDA approval.

Dalia was a brilliantly inventive cook and loved to entertain and feed others her delicious creations. She made fabulous chocolates and had many and varied other interests including science and alternative medicine. She was an extremely devoted daughter, proud aunt and loving sister.

One aspect of Dalia that is most often remarked upon is that she was always positive and smiling. She simply shone. This was despite many difficult struggles she experienced in life, indeed she was true to this this until the very end. Her positivity allowed her to survive over double the time of her expected prognosis.

Whilst she was a very diligent employee, she dedicated most of her time to chesed. Every day, she would leave work and spend her time cooking for the poor and needy and help manage a soup kitchen. She sometimes did not return home till two in the morning.

Dalia still found time to make very strong friendships and to provide a secure place for anyone who needed her help, financially or otherwise. Having very modest expectations for herself didn't stop her from lavishing generosity and kindness on others. She had a pure heart and her greatest pleasure was to give and make a difference.

Dalia’s chesed extended far beyond the soup kitchen and friendships, yet we do not know exactly how far, as the chesed was done beseter. She did not wish to see anyone suffer and felt people's pain too much. She dedicated her life to try and ease people's suffering.

Here is just one of the many examples of her kindness as told by her friend Uriel:

Dalia organised a theme park trip for children in Shaarei Tzedek with terminal cancer.

She wanted to organise a second trip but sadly three quarters of the children had passed away. Dalia was so upset and with tears in her eyes, she cried that Yossi, David, Avi, were no longer alive.

On that second trip, Dalia organised a coach to take the children to Ashdod. They had a wonderful time, went on a boat, to the beach and to fancy restaurant. The children were absolutely thrilled. There was such a feeling of unity, they sang "hevenu shalom aleichem" on the bus, including the Arab children. Afterwards one Arab girl was very moved. She expressed how amazed she was by the goodness towards all the children, regardless of whether they were Jewish or Arab. Dalia prepared packages and gifts for the children from her own money. The bus was filled with the presents that she had bought. She had put together a table detailing each child's dietary requirements and had travelled to Ashdod in advance of the trip to sit with the chef for an hour and a half, going through the dietary needs of each child. Dalia invested much of her own time and money to do this.

It was commented to Dalia that it was a shame that she had to take two days off work for this and that she was missing out. Dalia replied "How can you say that I'm missing out!!? I'm only gaining from this and I am doing it with a complete full heart"

Friends and acquaintances of Dalia tell of numerous acts of kindness - paying for expensive dental treatments, medication; catering from home for poor people with difficult dietary requirements that they were unable to afford.

One example is her preparation of meals for an Holocaust survivor that lived far out of Jerusalem. It would take her up to two hours to get to her, and she did this whilst receiving high doses of chemotherapy. She also bought and cooked food for her parents in Netanya, food for the whole week on a weekly basis. She never asked for help , financial or otherwise.

These weekly shiurim are my small way of being able to do something for her. She, who did so so much for so many.

She is a shining example of how a person on her own can make such a difference and impact on the world. Yehi zichra baruch.

Note: 2020 Torah is hosting a series of shiurim in Dalia's name on Wednesday evenings from 7 pm to 7:45 pm UK time, beginning on 14th July. Click here for details and to book a free ticket.

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