In North Miami Beach, Florida, August 23, 2007, a family barbecue was transformed from simple summer fun to a catastrophic event which would permanently alter the lives of the Schwab family. Four-year-old Aliza Schwab was found unconscious at the bottom of the family pool. When the paramedics arrived, hope seemed also to have drowned as the little girl, whose image would soon be broadcast around the world, was declared to be in critical condition and placed on life support.

What followed was a moral and spiritual conflict in the public sphereWeeks passed, and Psalms were said continuously, even by those who had never even met Aliza or the Schwab family. "Ruchama" meaning "one who has received mercy," was added to her name to increase her vitality and to rouse Divine compassion on her behalf. What followed was a moral and spiritual conflict in the public sphere, a wrenching and memorable media battle that recalled the Torah dictum to "Choose Life."

While doctors were certain there was nothing more they could do and Jackson Memorial Hospital declared they had gone beyond their expected duties to keep the child alive, a tearful Esther Schwab told the media, "Man does not make the decision of whether we live or die. G‑d does." Although Ruchama Aliza was declared brain dead, according to Florida law, the family insisted that as long as her heart is still beating, she is alive.

Esther insisted that she be given a chance to take care of her daughter, regardless of the outcome. "Whether she comes back fully aware or not, it doesn't matter to me as long as I have her with me… I believe there is still a chance."

The nightly news depicted the conflict with religious principles at the core, but the parents insistence that their daughter Aliza was alive demonstrated that this was a family not merely adhering to an ancient doctrine, but were vividly aware of their daughter's condition and potential, more so than trained medical staff.

The public outrage at the intention to detach the young girl from life support finally pressured the doctors to allow Aliza to go home to her family, even as hope for any progress was slim. "They were sending her home to die," recalls Esther Schwab. "They said, 'We feel her home is the best place.' So you nod your head and put on a straight face. If you break down and cry, they won't help you because they don't want to give you false hope. But I did have hope. I never believed it."

But only a month after Aliza was taken home, the family noticed her responding to stimuli and lifting her legs when asked. Elated by signs of progress from Aliza, the family caught the girl lifting her legs when commanded and responding to the familiar sounds of the home. They made video recordings of the toddler's first motions weeks after her devastating accident.

Her brothers and sister sing to her, play games and massage herThe Schwab family saw their insistence on a constant attitude of hope justified by further progress and urged friends, family and Jews across the globe to pray and take on good resolutions to bring the vision of a complete recovery from a vague wish to a reality. In 2008, a Torah scroll was written in the Schwab home in North Miami Beach for the complete recovery of Ruchama Aliza Sarah Chana bat Esther Liba. Popular Chassidic entertainer, Mordechai ben Dovid, performed at the event and all who attended witnessed the little girl's progress and felt joy for the life that had been recovered and nurtured.

While, two years since the accident, Aliza still needs the assistance of a ventilator to breathe and a feeding tube to eat, she is markedly less dependant on the devices; she used to require thirty-five breaths per minute, and she now only needs the ventilator for six breaths. With the help of speech and physical therapy, she is able to respond more quickly to noises. Her brothers and sister sing to her, play games and massage her, and Aliza shows signs of enjoying attention from her siblings. The fact that Aliza can hear has been confirmed by medical tests.

To the other children in the Schwab household, Aliza is as much as part of the family as she ever was. Brothers and sisters take turns reading to Aliza and singing songs. Esther says that visitors to the house wouldn't realize that there was anything unusual and the family doesn't need to alter its routine to accommodate Aliza, and spend time with her as they would with any other child. Aliza's responses to touch and voices demonstrate an awareness of her surroundings. Ruchama Aliza's family provides her with the love and warmth she would never receive in a hospital or an institution.

Aliza has survived not only the initial injury, but has pulled back miraculously on two other occasions since she was released from the hospital. After Aliza's first release, she developed a serious staph infection and had to return to the hospital for antibiotic treatment for several months. While the doctors were again pessimistic, Aliza strength once again surprised onlookers. One neurosurgeon, who was not overtly religious told Esther, "Sometimes G‑d does things you would never have an answer for," and Esther says medical professionals are consistently stunned by Aliza's advances.

One mitzvah that Aliza has always treasured is lighting Shabbat candlesThis past winter, Aliza went into cardiac arrest. The problem arose without warning and Esther Schwab recalls the experience of praying for a new miracle. "We did all we could do. We watched her go in our arms, and saw the oxygen level in the blood go to zero. There was nothing more we could do. But, thank G‑d, she was saved once again. A lot of nissim, miracles, have happened and she has fought really hard to come back from where she was."

Aliza is able to hear everything that goes on around her, even though her brain can't necessarily process every stimulus. One mitzvah that Aliza has always treasured is lighting Shabbat candles; with her mother propping up her hands in the correct position, she is still able to light candles every Friday eve and hear her mother make the blessing.

While Esther Schwab feels grateful for the efforts of doctors and surgeons on the behalf of her daughter, she is constantly aware of the higher power that transcends medical knowledge. "Doctors are great people and save many lives, but they don't always know everything. They are messengers from G‑d. I never believed it when they told me she would live two days or two hours…We pray and pray and she still needs our tefillot, our prayers, to recover. We hope we will see her full recovery and G‑d willing will be dancing at her wedding."

The Schwab family encourages everyone to say Tehillim, Psalms, or make a resolution in the merit of the full recovery of Ruchama Aliza Sarah Chana Bat Esther Liba.