If you are new to this page, you might want to look at it from the bottom up, beginning with the entry from 1/28/12. We invite you to read about Tali, follow the links–and the links within the links–and be inspired and motivated by the example that was her life.
With gratitude and blessing,
Dear Friends and Loved Ones,
Tomorrow is “Giving Tuesday,” easily the most meaningful of these post-Thanksgiving “days.” In that spirit, here is a report of some hands-on giving at the Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS) in Nairobi.
Our friends Edina and Alan Lessack, of Temple Bat Yam in Sanibel, FL and Chicago, took it upon themselves to spend a day at TAGS during a recent visit to Africa. They spent a day there as volunteers. In Edina’s words, if you can make this trip, it will be “one of the most meaningful things you will ever do in your life.”
During their day at TAGS (8am to 5pm–“and it went by so quickly!”) they accomplished many things. Here are a few of the highlights:
Together they played bingo (an educational game, with numbers and letters!) took meals (which the girls prepared) and shared candy, which Edina brought with her. She also managed to bring in some coconuts from a Nairobi market, which the girls had never seen before.
Alan and Edina’s son Lee Lessack is a concert performer. They were able to leave some of his CD’s as gifts.
According to Edina, the girls are “organized and take direction”– both during classes and study in the morning and during enrichment and housekeeping in the afternoon. This comes as no surprise to those who know Edith Murogo, the Shelter’s founder and director.
Of course Edith talked about Talia and how much she meant, and continues to mean, to the Shelter. Edith showed Edina and Alan some of the furniture Tali was able to procure through her own fund raising efforts as an undergraduate.
Either in honor of “Giving Tuesday,” in memory of Talia, because we are nearing the end of the year or just for the sake of impacting the world in a direct, profound and personal way, we invite you to make a contribution to the work of the TAGS. If you cannot visit and give of yourself as Edina and Alan have just now, here are a couple of other ways to have an impact:
1)You can contribute through this link:
2) Or, you can write a check payable to “Chemonics” with “Talia Agler Memorial Fund” on the memo line (it is important to do this exactly) and mail it to:
Talia Agler Memorial Fund
1717 H Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006—attention: Riley Smith
3) Arrange for a contribution to be made from your place of work or business. Many companies have charitable budgets or offer “matching funds” programs.
Thank you one and all for your continued caring and support.With gratitude and blessing,
Richard and Mindy
P.S. Here is a picture of “Talia at 15 months” taken by Edina. You may remember Talia was born to one of the girls and named at the conclusion of our last visit to Nairobi. Also, enjoy and smile during the video of the farewell song from the girls to Edina and Alan! To see it, click on http://youtu.be/OvO6UDzgNIQ
Here is an essay that Tali’s cousin Adam Agler recently wrote for his 10th grade English class. His mom Ellen writes that Adam “elevated his remembrance of Tali, one that is both very painful and also brings joyful memories, to the surface and wrote about it.” His teacher wrote the following note: “Wow, Adam, what a beautiful story and lovely tribute to your cousin. She sounded like a wonderful person and I’m sorry for your loss.” Adam received an “A” on the paper. Read it and you will see why.
Clicking on the button below will facilitate your contribution, however modest or generous, to the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Nairobi. Your gift will help rescue, rehabilitate and save the lives of trafficked and abused young girls in Tali’s memory. Thank you.
Here is another story on the current organ donation initiative from the Florida Keys Free Press. The support and participation in the community has been outstanding. We continue to register new donors telling Tali’s story–and Martha’s–in the video from NBC Washington. See entry below for further details on how you can become a donor.
This is the gift giving season and there is no greater gift we can give than the gift of life.
If you have not already done so, please consider becoming an organ donor now. It is simple, cost free, painless and may well be the most precious gift you have ever given to anyone.
From anywhere in the US, you can register at http://organdonor.gov/
To register to donate your organs in Israel, you can click here.
In either case, you will be doing more good than you ever thought possible.
As per the Reporter article, here in our small Upper Florida Keys community we are embarking on a campaign to sign up 2014 donors. We will be speaking at churches, synagogues, civic groups and others as part of our effort.
We have been amazed at how easy it is to get people to sign up to be organ donors. The main reason that people have not yet done so is inertia. We think it is something for “the future.” But as we know, “the future” may arrive at any moment. And btw, age is not a factor! People of any and every age can be potential tissue donors. (I never really thought about it but that’s how I got my ACL replaced almost 20 years ago.)
There is a severe shortage of organ donors in the United States. There is no shortage of needy recipients. As a result, people—our friends, neighbors, loved ones–die waiting every day.
If you would like to do more than simply sign on and organize in your own community, let us know and we will help you get everything you need to do so. In our workplaces, civic clubs, houses of worship, schools or any other organization, people will say yes. The main thing to do is ask. It is something we all agree needs doing--and it is something we can all do.
Organ donation is recognized by leaders of all faiths–as well as by people of no particular faith–as a great virtue. The Conservative Jewish movement recently debated not whether or not organ donation was appropriate (it is) but whether or not it was an obligation. (Mixed vote, but still.)
As a gift to yourself and your loved ones, in memory of Tali, for people you may never know, we ask you to make this priceless gift today. We would be more than honored to know if you do—or already have.
Thank you more than we can know–and happy holidays to one and all.
Rich and Mindy
P.S. This link is to the NBC Washington report of our meeting with Talia’s heart recipient, Martha Lefebvre. We’ve been told that viewing it makes a powerful impact and encourages people to register to be donors. If you are not sure about becoming a donor, please see it. And feel free to share it at any gathering you attend or lead.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel ran this story on the “Mitzvah Lunch Club,” whose creation was inspired by Tali’s life and legacy. I described this group in my Rosh Hashanah talk from this year entitled “Sacred Community.” Blessings to Marcy Barrick for her work in bringing it to life.
There are a few things to catch up on.
We received a priceless gift and letter from the First Presbyterian Church of Smithfield, NC. Mindy and I met their pastor, Joe Hester, at an interfaith retreat over the summer. A group of women in his church have a “prayer shawl” project. They knit one in honor or Tali. You can see in the photo that it is in three main sections, one the colors of the Kenyan flag, the second, blue and white for Israel and blocked in tribute to the Western Wall and finally, five sections at the bottom to represent the five people who were given a new lease on life through Talia’s organs. It is, as I said, a priceless gift.
Next you can see this blog entry from Temple Sinai in Washington, where Tali taught and worked part-time. It is a beautiful tribute to her.
My friend Rabbi Sam Cohon recorded an interview with me for his weekly radio show, “Too Jewish.” It centers on Tali and you can listen to it here. Click on “Listen to past Too Jewish Shows” on the side menu and scroll down to the entry of 6/9/13. The Talia portion begins about twenty minutes in.
Sam is an exceptionally talented rabbi and while you are there, check on some of his other podcasts. There are interviews with everyone from Robert Klein to Kinky Friedman to Ron Blomberg. You won’t be disappointed.
Finally for the moment, Rabbi Dr. Andrea Weiss is a professor of Bible at the Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in New York. Upon learning about Tali, her children, Rebecca, 15 and Ilan, 9, dedicated their annual tzedaka project fundraiser to the TAGS. They collected over $1000 in the process. Below is a picture of two exceptional young people. Tali would have been proud–as are we all.
Mindy, Jesse, Tovah, Sarah, my brother David and I traveled to Kenya this month to visit the Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS). As you might imagine, it was a most meaningful journey for us all.
I’ve decided to take another tack and let the pictures do most of the talking–with a few captions for good measure. I hope they give you a sense of what we experienced and the wonderful work that is being done there.
First, if you do nothing else here, see these videos, taken at the TAGS. They say pretty much everything that needs to be said.
There are more in this vein at this You Tube channel but at least see those two.
Let’s do this next.
Here are some photos from our visit to the Shelter. I recommend you see them all. (Of course, why else would I have posted them!)
Here are some pages on our visit to the CDTD’s central office. The CDTD is the parent organization of the TAGS. It is where Tali worked as a student.
And here are some pages from my teaching experience for the CDTD in the outer Nairobi neighborhood of Githurai.
Finally, at the TAGS, there was a fifteen year old girl, well along in her pregnancy. She had been trying to decide between giving the baby up for adoption and keeping her. Shortly before we arrived, she decided to keep the baby. She gave birth on our last full day in Kenya and named the baby Talia. We all pray that she shines as brightly as her namesake.
The Talia Agler Girls Shelter and the Centre for Domestic Training and Development both exist in order to provide opportunity and hope to human beings who may have little of either, due to life circumstance, poverty, abuse, trafficking, violence and more. They rescue, restore, and quite literally, save lives. We continue to be grateful for Tali’s legacy and that she continues to be a blessing.
That will do it for the moment. Thank you one and all for visiting. Feel free to share any of this content with anyone who might appreciate it.
Of course, any contribution you can make, however modest, is most appreciated and will be most effective. (From the $2000 that Tali raised in 2006, Edith was able to construct eight classrooms and several bunk beds. You read that right.) US dollars go a very long way in Kenya. Thank you for whatever–or anything–you can do.
The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has just published this article on Tali, her work and her legacy.
An NBC Washington television crew visited Mindy and me in Florida last week to do a story on Talia and organ donation. Together with the Washington Regional Transplant Community, they arranged for us to meet with Martha Lefebvre, Tali’s heart recipient and her husband Bart. The three broadcast reports are linked here, here and here.
And here is an accompanying story from the Florida Keys Free Press.
Please do what you can to support organ donation. If you are unable for whatever reason to do so, please consider making a regular donation, of any amount, to the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Nairobi, Kenya in memory of Tali and in honor of her ongoing work. You can do that by clicking here. We thank one and all for your continuing support and love.
A beautiful new 3 minute video narrated by Edith Murogo and produced by Chemonics highlighting the work of the Talia Agler Girls Shelter can be viewed by clicking here.
Some new pictures from the Talia Agler Girls Shelter–sent by Edith. Click the link: TAGS Photos Nov 2012 to see them. As with all the photos and letters from the TAGS, they remind us why it remains our privilege to support the work.
A new video, produced by all who contributed to the Talia Agler Memorial Fund through Chemonics and describing the needs that are being met by the Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS) is linked here. The video is 7 minutes long and tells the story about the life-saving work that the TAGS does. We encourage you to view it, “like” it, and share it with your friends.
Here is a letter from the President and CEO of Chemonics International, Richard Dreiman, who recently visited the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Nairobi with members of his staff. Tali of course worked at Chemonics and the company has been incredibly supportive both of the work of the CDTD, including the Shelter, and our family, since the beginning.
If you are giving tzedaka at the new year, please know that contributions to the Talia Agler Girls Shelter in Nairobi can now be made online through Global Giving. Global Giving is a remarkable organization that vets and funds charitable causes around the globe. Its work has been recognized in the NY Times, Washington Post, NPR, Forbes, Foreign Policy, USA Today and more. That the Talia Agler Girls Shelter has already been included on the Global Giving roster is a noteworthy achievement and a particular tribute to Edith Murogo, the shelter’s founder and Tali’s teacher, sponsor and friend.
In addition, the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism continues to accept gifts for the Machon Kaplan College Scholarship fund in Tali’s memory.
And please, if you are eligible and have not already done so, become an organ donor and give help give the most priceless gift of all, the gift of life.
May the blessings of life be ours to give and receive in 5773.
New from Edith Murogo in Nairobi–includes a video link on the Talia Agler Girls Shelter (TAGS):
…We are expecting two very senior staff from Chemonics and are very excited about it. Also around the 22nd of Sept. we shall be receiving the US Ambassador-at-Large from Washington DC who is in charge of Trafficking in Persons (TIP). He will be in Kenya to hold a roundtable discussion with stakeholders on TIP, which is critical because Kenya has recently been downgraded from Tier 2 to Tier 3 due to poor implementation of the TIP Act…
…I want to assure you that Tali’s spirit is living even more strongly through the work that we are doing at TAGS. I went to visit TAGS last Saturday and was so much moved by the spirit of Tali as I tried to bring her alive to the girls at the shelter so that they could really know who she was…
I am attaching a link of a digital story that was developed by CDTD staff with the help of a lady known as Lydia Holden who had been sent by the GFC (Global Fund for Children) early this year before we legalized the name TAGS. It captures the change moment when CDTD decided to start a shelter for girls only early this year. You can find the digital story here.
My cousins Sharone and Aaron Cheskis (Sharone is the daughter of Rachel and Stan Lerner) recently gave birth to a baby boy and named him Brandon Naftali. For the bris, Sharone wrote the following words:
“Naftali is named after two people. First is my cousin Tali Agler. She was the type of person that whenever I think of her, I thank G-d for the miracle that people like her ever exist in our world.
As a mother however, I hope that our son takes many more years to accomplish what Tali did in her short life. For that reason I lengthened her name to Naftali, the tribe blessed with the symbol of the deer.
The second is my great uncle Tzvi Klein whose name means “deer.” I loved his sense of humor and his general outlook on life.
I hope that our son takes the many virtuous traits of Tali and continues to make the world a brighter place well into old age.”–Sharone
To this I add, may Brandon Naftali Cheskis come to be in Israel a shining name. And may Talia Agler continue to be remembered for blessing and inspiration.
Here’s a letter we received today from Edith Murogo in Nairobi to Tali’s company, Chemonics that was cc’d to us. It is descriptive of Tali and the relationship she had with the Centre for Domestic Training and Development. Thesecond part details the trafficking victims assistance program that takes place at the newly established Talia Agler Girls Shelter.
Here is a photo of the shelter:
Here are some more photos of the work going on inside.
Thank you more than we can say to those who have asked how to contribute to the newly established “Talia Agler Girls Shelter” at the Centre for Domestic Training and Development in Nairobi, Kenya. (See 3/7-8/12 entries below if you do not know about this.) The easiest way to contribute is through Tali’s former employer, Chemonics. Make a check out to Chemonics and be sure to write “Talia Agler Memorial Fund” on the memo line. Mail it to Chemonics, 1717 H Street, NW, Washington, D.C. 20006. They will see that it gets to the Centre. And be secure in the knowledge that Edith will see that your gift goes a very long way. We are most grateful to Chemonics for continuing to process these transactions.
We also invite you to support the Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism with contributions to the RAC, Talia Agler Memorial Fund, 2027 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036. We have joined with Rabbi David Saperstein in designating this fund to be a source of scholarships for the RAC’s Machon Kaplan summer college intern program. Thank you once again.
Please do Tali the honor of accepting our invitation to visit the website we have created in her memory. Spend some time there and come back often. Whether you knew her well, a little, or not at all, you will be inspired by the blessing that was her life.
Also, please consider supporting any of the causes listed there–or one of your own favorites in her name. Tali really was all about making the world a better place. She did. And so can we all.
My friend and colleague Jack Riemer asked for a copy of the “Rules According to Tali” that Mindy shared at the memorial service in Florida. He wanted to teach from them at his Shabbat table and described the compilation as an Ethical Will. Inasmuch as Jack has written books on that subject, we’ll accept his description. Read, enjoy and share them at this link–scroll down to the Feb. 5 entry by Mindy.
Mindy and I met today with Edith Murogo, the Director of the Centre for Domestic Training and Development in Nairobi, Kenya. This is the place where Tali worked when she was an undergraduate on her semester abroad and one of the places we have suggested that people contribute to in Tali’s memory.
Edith is in the United States to speak as an invited guest at two international conferences on the role of women in Washington, DC. Despite that, she made it her business to fly down to meet with us for a few hours in the afternoon. We looked forward to being with her, as it would provide us the opportunity to share some Tali stories with someone who was very special in her life. It turned into something more.
As we sat over sandwiches at the airport, Edith told us that the CDTD has recently expanded to include a program for the rescue of girls ages 10-18 who have been victimized by trafficking. We congratulated her on this most worthwhile mission. Then she told us that the board of the Centre has decided to name it the “Talia Agler Girls Shelter.” It left us speechless. But we wanted to share the news with you.
Thank you once again to one and all who have been there for us in love and support in recent weeks. We remain more grateful than we can say. And yes, Tali’s memory is very much for blessing.
Rich and Mindy–and Edith
Correspondence between me and Edith:
> Date: Thu, 8 Mar 2012 08:20:55 -0500
> Dear Edith,
> Yesterday’s visit is one we will never forget. Meeting you for the
> first time brought Tali and her love to life once again. I have
> always believed that good people will find other good people and as
> Mindy said to me last evening, you and Tali were a match made in heaven.
> We are touched and honored more than we can say by the naming of the
> girls shelter in her honor. Thank you to you and the board members so
> very much. I know that her spirit will keep everyone who knew her
> energized and focused on making the girls lives all that they should
> be. We will make it our business to visit one day, hopefully in the
> not too distant future.
> Thank you once again and many blessings to you and your loved ones.
Dear Rich and Mindy,
Thank you so much for finding time to meet me yesterday. I will always cherish the precious time we spent together and I can’t begin to say how much I felt touched and appreciated by your love and kindness. Mindy it is always my pleasure to talk to you and now I am happy that I met Rich. You are such a wonderful couple and even though I know that you have heard this before many times, I want you to know that this is from the depth of my heart. I want to commit that I will do everything possible to keep Tali’s candle burning and to let the flames warm needy girls especially those who have no one else to turn to. I am sure you will support me in this so that together we can do what Talia would be proud of…
I had a good journey back yesterday arriving at Washington at midnight! By 10.30 am today, I was at the Global Fund for Children‘s (GFC) Boardroom making my presentation, especially about the Talia Agler Girls Shelter. As you already know the GFC is providing initial support to CDTD to develop this shelter so that it can offer much needed services to abused girls. At the moment GFC has approved a grant to develop a Child Protection Policy to guide our engagement with children and another grant has been given to some consultants in Tanzania so that they can start a process of organizational development.
I want to thank you very much for accepting our request to honor Tali through the Shelter Project and hope and trust that her spirit will live on through the vision of this project. I will be contacting you both in future to discuss more on this project but for now let us all concentrate on thinking how best we can set up and develop the shelter. I know you both have a lot to offer.
Mindy, thanks for writing to Lucy, she adores you and hopes that she can meet you some day. As I told you she is a great lady, she made it possible for me to meet you and Rich yesterday.
I have just seen an email of your friends who would like to make a donation, I will reply to them, and inform them of how to do so through our website.
With much love,
Rabbi Efrem Goldberg of Boca Raton Synagogue (Orthodox) wrote the passage below in his blog following his shiva call in honor of Tali. It is in the context of Jews across the various movements building closer bonds but it stands on its own here.
…Indeed, it was this motivation that two weeks ago led me to a decision that I am so happy I made. Rabbi Richard Agler, who recently retired as the Sr. Rabbi of Congregation B’nai Israel , a Reform Congregation, suffered a terrible tragedy when a car struck and killed his 26 year old daughter as she was jogging… I decided that the proper thing to do, if for no other reason than my role in the Orthodox community of Boca, was to pay a shiva call. And so, Rabbi Broide and I went to the Agler’s home to simply communicate that we care, feel their pain and pray for their comfort.
The time we spent together and the inspiration Rabbi Broide and I received that day, were remarkable. I asked Rabbi Agler how this tragedy impacts his faith in the Almighty. As a Rabbi, he undoubtedly has spoken about bad things happening to good people, but now he has lived it.
His answer blew me away. He said, “My Judaism, my relationship with God and my faith are what empowered me to raise such a wonderful daughter and these values are what gave her life meaning and purpose. Why would I throw away the very things that made her so special, just because she was taken so prematurely and tragically? Faith allowed me to raise a special daughter, and faith will guide me through the tragedy of her death.”
To read the remainder of Rabbi Goldberg’s blog post click here and scroll down to the entry of Feb. 10.
Deepest thanks to the members of the Keys Jewish Community Center who have dedicated this brick in the Meditation Garden in Tali’s memory. Among many other places, she loved the Keys.
Dear Beloved Friends,
Words cannot express my gratitude for all your support at this sad time in our lives. It is that support from Tali’s friends, our friends, Jesse, Tovah, and Sarah’s friends, and our amazing family, that will get us through this.
A website has been created where we can all post our memories of our wonderful Tali. Please visit this link to add your thoughts. We will posting our remarks, as well as those of others who spoke at her two memorial services.
Thank you again for all your kindnesses and love.
With inexpressible sorrow and loss, we inform you of the sudden passing of our daughter and sister Talia, on Friday, January 27 in Washington, DC. Tali was jogging along the National Mall when she was struck by an automobile and fatally injured the previous evening.
Tali sought to better the world and she succeeded in doing so–through her work, through her wit and through her love. Her memory is more of a blessing than we can say.
Contributions in Talia’s memory may be made to the Centre for Domestic Training and Development (CDTD) in Nairobi(through Chemonics) or to the Religious Action Center in Washington, DC
Talia Agler Memorial Fund
1717 H Street, NW
Washington, D.C. 20006
Religious Action Center of Reform Judaism
Talia Agler Memorial Fund
2027 Massachusetts Avenue, NW
Washington, DC 20036
As an organ donor, Tali’s heart, kidneys, liver, pancreas and lung gave life to five individuals. They and their loved ones are more grateful than they can say. In Tali’s honor, or your own, we invite you to consider becoming an organ donor.
We also invite you to visit and add to this link that has been established in her memory. Come back often as it is a work in progress.
We are more grateful than we can say for the outpouring of love and support we have received. Kindly bear with us as it will take some time to appropriately respond to one and all. Thank you, and bless you, once again.
Richard, Mindy, Jesse, Tovah and Sarah Agler