April 1, 2020

A Rosh Hashanah Hit and Run

18 seconds. A flashing red hand with 18 seconds to go. That’s the last thing my father can remember before waking up being put into the back of an ambulance. He was so confused, knew he was on the corner of Beverwil and Cashio, just two blocks from his house, he thought it must be some bizarre taxi taking him home. He told them his address, and then quickly realized they were taking him to the emergency room, not his home.

My father, 81 years young, was walking home from the end of the Rosh Hashanah davening at YULA, he remembers having the right of way, he remembers looking both directions, he remembers there were 18 seconds left on the flashing signal, and then he doesn’t remember anything else. We’ve been told there were witnesses to the crime but no license plate information. Nobody from the police has contacted any of us so we currently have no idea what they might know about this hit & run. 

In the meantime here is what we do currently know about my father’s condition:
The impact was so severe, that not one but both eyes had their lenses completely detached, and will require multiple surgeries before my father regains sight again. But thankfully we believe it is all reparable.

The gash on his forehead was so severe it went to the bone, the Plastic Surgeon in the ER described it as “dog-meat”, but thankfully it appears purely cosmetic, and my father’s modeling days appear behind him.

His left knee is fractured, and we only know this because he eventually allowed them to X-Ray it after insisting it was thankfully not in pain.

His spirits have ranged from jokey with the staff, to sad that he is putting my mother through this. Yes, he is fully alert and “with it”, and that is no small miracle.

What a year for my family’s health, both frustratingly “Why God?!” and equal parts “Thank God it wasn’t worse”.

You see, in May my mother was diagnosed with Lymphoma. She had the Big C diagnosis, and started 6 rounds of chemotherapy. But here’s the thing: she felt great when it was found. It was a routine mammogram and life-saving new 3D technology that caught her lymph nodes at her armpit that led to the diagnosis that has saved her life. 6 rounds of chemo made her feel terrible, but every doctor will tell you that the fact that this was caught before she was even mildly symptomatic is a miracle. So Why God, but also, Thank God.

My daughter Natalia, born last year prematurely, was sent home unforgivably early by Cedars, in spite of numerous objections on my part. She was readmitted twice within a week, for dangerously high jaundice levels, and failure to thrive feeding issues, and ultimately we spent almost a month in the hospital with a myriad of errors on their end (including them giving us the wrong patient’s breast milk to take home!). She is now 16 plus months old, and is the best eater, the best sleeper, adorably cute, and in wonderful health. So Why God, but also, Thank God.

Here we are now, my father was hit by an unknown man or woman, who did not have enough of a moral compass to stop, help and take responsibility. This happened on the same day that we read in our Rosh Hashana davening the Unetanah tokef, where we ask who will have good things happen to them versus terrible things plagued upon them. I will never be that person to tell others that the bad that occurs must be for a good reason. I do not honestly believe that, and even if it were true I find the sentiment condescending and presumptive to assume for others. But I can in my own case, in the midst of the stress of it all, say Why God, but also, Thank God.


Boaz Hepner grew up in LA in Pico/Robertson and now lives here with his wife and baby girl. Thus, the neighborhood is very important to him. He helped clean up the area by adding the dozens of trash cans that can still be seen from Roxbury to La Cienega. When he is not working as Registered Nurse in Santa Monica, he can be found with his wife and daughter enjoying his passions: his multitude of friends, movies, poker and traveling.

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