After losing her mother Tambi at age eleven, University of Delaware student Tia Scheff searched for a way to honor and remember. Every year, she says, she tried, and it “never felt like the right place or time”.
Tia knew she found the place and people who could help her create an event for her mom when she became involved with Hillel at the University of Delaware. Her mother pushed for her and her sister to have a strong Jewish upbringing, so it felt significant to host something special in a Jewish space. With the help of the Hillel staff, she decided to host a commemorative Shabbat at the Kristol Center for Jewish Life on March 9th, 2018.
The theme of the night revolved around the question, “How Do We Remember?” Students were asked to share their own personal experiences and ideas regarding how to keep the memory of someone we love alive.
The day of the Shabbat was filled with nerves and excitement for Tia. Friends, staff and peers watched as Tia spoke about frontotemporal degeneration, the disease that took her mom’s life, and the grueling effect that illness had on her as a child and how the experience continues to affect her today as a young adult.
Rachel Polin, a student at UD who attended the Shabbat, was in awe of Tia’s courage to share such a personal and difficult part of her life with others. She said it reminded her that “you never really know the full story of a person's life or what they are going through.” Rachel expressed that she left feeling inspired and honored by Tia and her story.
Tia’s dad, Bryan Scheff, had his own way to remember Tia’s mom and had a special surprise in store for that night. He donated two beautiful intertwined Shabbat candlesticks and a hand-painted challah tray to Hillel, which have been used by students each week.
To Bryan, they serve as a lasting symbol of the memory and Tambi’s life. He said,"It's hard to forget someone who gave you so much to remember."
-- Leigh Deitz ‘19