I don’t remember how old I was, maybe thirteen years old, when I caught a very bad case of bronchitis. There was a danger of pneumonia and my parents and grandparents were terrified. I guess in Europe, if someone coughed, it meant tuberculosis or worse, and they were beside themselves.
I did have a terrible cough and it took a very long time for it to get better. I don’t remember this part so clearly, but I do remember we went from one doctor to another and I was given one antibiotic after another. Nothing seemed to work.
All the coughing made me hoarse – first a little, then very, very hoarse. It became harder and harder for me to speak, until one day I stopped speaking altogether.
We went to all kinds of doctors who had all kinds of theories, but the bottom line was that I could not talk and they could not help. Sometimes when I think back, I wonder: Perhaps it was psychological?
And then my parents took me to the Rebbe. We went in as a family, with my parents, grandparents, aunts and uncles, squeezing into the room until you couldn’t fit a pin in! Everybody received a blessing and then the Rebbe said, “All of you please go out, I want to speak to her alone.”
I was astonished and stunned that everybody had to go out and that I was going to have a private audience with the Rebbe. I remember being in such awe of him.