Describing his miraculous recovery, accident survivor calls calls for more chesed


BP Photo by Eli Weiss

MISSION: Micah Kaufman had been involved with chesed long before his accident, including giving one of his kidneys to a woman he didn’t know. His Nov. 8 meeting with Shalhevet students in the gym was arranged by Chesed Director Ms. Chani Liberman, left.

By Jaden Silver, 11th Grade

After surviving life-threatening injuries in an accident Dec. 19, 2019, Micah Kaufman decided to spend his time encouraging others to perform acts of chesed – acts of lovingkindness – which he said helped see him through.

Not that he was unfamiliar with chesed before the accident. Micah, who lives in Teaneck, N.J., and told his story during Flex period Nov. 8, was already considered a pillar of his community and had donated one of his kidneys to an elderly stranger.

He knew that was risky, he said, but did it anyway, thinking, “if I can give this lady a few more years of nachas, it’s worth it.”

After he did it, he spent time supporting other kidney donors, and in fact was on his way to visit one when the accident happened. He went to daven Maariv first, and afterwards stopped to speak outside with someone he knew – both were then hit by a car.

His friend died from his injuries. Micah suffered a severe head injury from the accident and was in a coma for several weeks.

Eventually, he made what he described as a miraculous recovery, and in his talk at Shalhevet he credited his community in Teaneck along with family and friends. He does not remember everything that happened in the accident, but has been told details from his family and friends.

His speech was unexpected; students been told to head to the gym that day without knowing what it would be about. It started with a video that described Micah’s accident, and then Micah talked to Shalhevet students about the incident and the importance of chesed.

Right now I can’t do as much chesed, and need you each to be my chesed agents.

— Micah Kaufman, inspirational speaker

“Two years ago, my life was turned upside down,” Micah said. “Now I am on the receiving end of chesed, which is much harder than being on the giving end of chesed.”

He said people have told him that the first time he showed movement was when people were reciting psalms to pray for his recovery.

”I started moving my fingers, the time that everyone was saying tehillim for me,” Micah said.

During his recovery, community members came and visited him, sang, told stories and generally tried to make him feel better, he said. As soon as he could, every day in the hospital, he would wrap tefillin and pray.

“My head wasn’t working, but my neshama was working,” said Micah.

Micah has not traveled much since his accident and his trip to Shalhevet represented the first time he had flown since his accident. He stated that he did not come to speak as a part of any organization. The meeting was arranged by Student Activities Director Ms. Chani Liberman after being contacted by a community member.

He just wanted to share his experience and discuss how chesed changed his life, he said. He asked the Shalhevet community to stand in for him since he can’t do as much chesed as he used to do.

“Right now I can’t do as much chesed, and need you each to be my chesed agents,” Micah said.

When he finished speaking, the floor was opened to a few questions from students, followed by students dancing and singing with Micah to “Dovid Melech Yisrael.”

“It was very interesting, especially to hear someone’s story who has gone through so much,” said junior Daniel Nosrati. “It was empowering, to an extent.”

When it was over, Judaic Studies teacher Rabbi Yagil Tsaidi invited Micah to Mishmar, Junior Dani Kunin, found the whole experience very moving.

“I thought it was really nice that Shalhevet brought a motivational speaker,” said Dani. At Mishmar, he said, “We sang with him, we got to know him a little better.”

“I found his speech very moving,” he continued. “I think his message of continuing to do chesed even though he had such a big tragedy in his life was really moving, and it inspired me to continue my search of finding something that I could do chesed with.”.