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Jewish World Review
August 27, 2004
/ 10 Elul, 5764
A Blind Date, Prayer and A Double Blessing
The wonders of it all!
Netanel is the middle name that Shmuel and Rivka Klein gave to their firstborn twin, Yosef. It means "G-d has given" in Hebrew and it's safe to say that its meaning applies equally to Yosef Netanel's twin brother, Yaakov Aryeh. You see, the twins' birth was the answer to the Klein's prayers.
Is this just another run-of-the-mill story of infertility, prayer, pregnancy and birth, a modern-day medical miracle with no soul?
Well, not quite. First of all, it all started with an unusual blind date. Immediately, Shmuel recalls,"we had something in common, something that both of us could relate to."
What is this special "something" that the Kleins have in common?
Adversity or, rather, its overcoming. Shmuel Klein is a quadriplegic and wheelchair-bound. His wife Rivka is paralyzed from her hips down as a result of having polio as a child. She also uses a wheelchair. Conception was no easy task.
"One of our goals was to have children," explains Shmuel, who met Rivkah on a blind date in 2001. "When you are a quadriplegic there can be difficulties, but we have a lot of faith in G-d."
According to Rivka, there are now many options for people with paralysis.
"The key is to find out what might work for you, and not to get discouraged," she says. (The Kleins were helped by information available through the Miami Project, an organization dedicated to those with spinal cord injuries.)
Shmuel and Rivkah each have a long history of overcoming adversity. Born in Israel, Rivkah contracted polio at 14 months of age. Her family moved to the United States, living first in New York and later Los Angeles. Although independent, Rivkah lacks motor movement in her legs, but she does have sensation.
"She drives and does most stuff on her own," says Shmuel. Rivka has also worked as a bookkeeper for her father's CPA practice.
Born and raised in New York, Shmuel became a quadriplegic at 22 when an accident left him partially paralyzed from the mid-chest down. Shmuel, who also has sensation, can move his arms and wrists but has no motor movement in his legs.
Dr. Harold Peart, the Klein's obstetrician at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center in Los Angeles remembers the Klein's excitement when they appeared at his office. "We're pregnant!" they announced. "And guess what? There are two of them!"
Shmuel was in the delivery room as his sons entered the world.
"It was amazing, a fascinating experience," he says.
For now, Rivkah and the twins are staying in her parent's house, where family is there to help.
"Twins are big job for anyone," says Dr. Peart, noting that there are certainly people who've told the Kleins, "You can't do this!" But, says Peart, "They manage to do it. They persevered and didn't take no for an answer."
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© 2004, Shmarya Rosenberg