On March 11, 2021, at about 8 p.m., at the age of 80, nun Raphaela (in the world — Leonida Abu Lel, originally from the Palestinian city of Tubas) died of an acute form of the coronavirus. She had been in the Shaar-Tsedek hospital since February 18, where she died.
Mother Raphaela entered the monastery in 1951. at the age of 10 on the feast of the Three Holy Hierarchs, together with Schema-nun Christina who happened to have died a week earlier. From 1996 until a new abbess was assigned to the monastery in 1997, Mother Raphaela fulfilled the obedience of the Vice-abbess. After the appointment of Abbess Moisseia in 1997, Archbishop Hilarion (Kapral – the future First Hierarch of ROCOR), awarded Mother Raphaela the right to wear a gold pectoral cross for the excellent performance of her obediance as Vice-abbess, as well as for many years of conscientious service on the Mount of Olives. M. Raphaela performed various obediences: singer, reader, embroiderer, sewing, making prayer ropes (chotki), etc. Mother Raphaela was also the author of several embroidered mitres that are used in divine services. Together with her assistants, she embroidered the Shroud of the Dormition of the Mother of God of extraordinary beauty, which economically saved the monastery in the 1990s. During the most difficult years, M. Raphaela was sent abroad to gather donations from around the world: from the United States to Australia and New Zealand.
It should be mentioned that from 1982 until the last days of her illness, M. Raphaela performed the regular obedience of the sexton.
She perfectly knew the liturgical services. She spoke Arabic, Russian and English.
M. Raphaela was called a “peacemaker” in the monastery. She always knew how to mitigate various conflicts between people. Many sisters came to her for spiritual resolution of their difficulties and always left consoled! M. Raphaela was also very hospitable, it was impossible to leave her without a cup of wonderful Arabian coffee.
The funeral service was served on March 12 in the Church of the Ascension of the Lord. The service was lead by the head of the Russian Ecclesiastical Mission – Archimandrite Roman (Krassovsky). The monastic clergy co-served with Fr. Roman. Abbess Barbara (Novikova) prayed with the sisters grieving for the fourth loss in two weeks. We firmly believe that the growing brigade of sisters in heaven is interceding before the Lord for their convent. Mother Raphaela was buried in the monastery cemetery.
May her memory be eternal!