december 1, 2014

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:

Alan, an architect, showed the girls maps and pictures of buildings in Chicago on postcards and in books. It was fascinating for them.

Edina brought a chopper, measuring cups, and with local and imported ingredients taught them to make kugel and charoset (during Sukkot–why not!)

Alan asked the girls to write about themselves and what wanted to do when they got older. Everyone wrote–and shared.

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.

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

Talia, daughter of Winnie, age 15 months


January 2, 2014

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.

This link 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.


december 2, 2013

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.


November 15, 2013

Dear Friends,

This is the gift giving season and there is no greater gift we can give than the gift of life.

Please click on the story from today’s Florida Keys Reporter <front page><inside page> about the effort our local community is making on behalf of Organ Donation in memory of Tali.

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

If you are in Florida or the Washington DC area and want to tell them you are doing this in Talia’s memory, click on respectively.

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.


September 23, 2013

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.


September 17, 2013

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.


July 13, 2013

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.

In a bit of a role reversal, Mindy has been blogging extensively on the trip at You can click on “TAGS Visit June13” to get to the new pages directly.

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.

1) Catherine’s Poem

2) Wana-meri-ba-ya-ya!

There are more in this vein at this You Tube channel but at least see those two.


Let’s do this next.

Click here for the story


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!)

TAGS visit p.1

TAGS visit p.2

TAGS visit p.3


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.

CDTD Pictures Page 1

CDTD Pictures Page 2

CDTD Pictures Page 3


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.


june 4, 2013

The South Florida Sun-Sentinel has just published this article on Tali, her work and her legacy.

May 1, 2013

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 herehere 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.