A Life with a Legacy: Mrs. Chava Willig Levy

By: Daniella Weiss  |  May 10, 2023

By Daniella Weiss, Staff Writer

After her recent passing, I was inspired to write about Mrs. Chava Willig Levy, whom I was privileged to get to know over the past months. Although many have known Mrs. Levy much longer than I, I was privileged to spend two Shabbosim at her home with a friend of mine. After listening to the Behind the Bima podcast and the Welcome to my World interview conducted by the Jewish Orthodox Women’s Health Association, I came to realize the true greatness of the person I had been in the presence of…

Just after the polio vaccine had been approved for use but before it was widely distributed, Mrs. Levy was diagnosed with polio. However, she explained that she wasn’t angry with Hashem about her diagnosis. She said that Hashem’s plan was for her to experience the disabilities of Polio, and that it must be for reasons that are beyond her. Mrs. Levy speculated that perhaps Hashem gave her Polio because she loved to sing. Had she not been sick, she might have faced the hard test of violating the halachos of kol isha by becoming a professional singer. Although there is so much to say about her, I would like to share some personal thoughts on what I learned from Mrs. Levy over the two Shabbosim I spent with her. 

When we arrived, Mrs. Levy would welcome us in with a smile, and always thank us for coming to help her place food on the blech and to set the table for Shabbos. She was always so humble, and whenever the meals began, would immediately ask us about ourselves and make us feel right at home. She loved playing Scrabble, which came from her love of words, and she found great joy in sharing new words she had found in the dictionary as she played Scrabble with her husband Michael on Shabbos. She also loved to talk about her children and grandchildren. 

Her care for other people was quite profound. I was once talking to her at the meal, and a lady in the community came over to ask for help from Mrs. Levy, and I was interrupted in the middle of what I was saying.  When she returned a few hours later, she mentioned what I had been speaking about and urged me to continue. I was so surprised that she remembered. 

I still remember being at the Shabbos table and hearing Mrs.Levy sing Shalom Aleichim and Eishes Chayil with such joy and serenity. Her emunah was palpable. She was always careful to be positive and optimistic even when she was in great pain. I remember I had gone to Patis to get challah for Shabbos. She enjoyed the challah from Patis and made me feel like I had done a great favor by bringing extra challah. She excelled in the way that she treated people and she was concerned with their honor. 

Some people, in their own modest and humble way, show their greatness. I was so fortunate to see someone that despite her painful disabilities and illness, she still managed to live a happy, positive, and meaningful life. Mrs. Chavay Willig Levy taught us all how to live with and overcome disabilities and to positively impact the Jewish world. Yehi Zichra Baruch.

Photo Credit: https://www.liherald.com/fivetowns/stories/chava-willig-levy-dies-at-71,174613