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AROUND TOWN

'Now Is the Time to Fight' for Ariel

February 17, 1995|BEVERLY BEYETTE | TIMES STAFF WRITER

But for now--with faith in Church and the center staff--the family dares to make long-range plans. Among these: Ari's bat mitzvah in July.

There will be a healing service and her Hebrew name will be changed from Batya to Batya Chaya, in hopes it will change the course of her life. Chaya has its roots in the Hebrew word for life. Another way of "fooling the angel of death," Larry says.

With Ari, Church says, "We've been dealing with potential disasters for quite a number of years now. Every time something serious develops, we've been able to beat it back.

"If I thought her situation was hopeless, I would be very direct with Ariel and her family." Church looks on each good day for Ari as a victory.

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The Childrens AIDS Center is a place where Ari and other children can confide their darkest fears to social workers. Where a dietitian helps them find foods to ignite their appetites. Where fun helps dull the pain.

Ari, Church says, is "a remarkable child--medically quite astute, not shy to express her opinions. And she has a very healthy attitude toward a very difficult situation."

He has special words, too, for Larry. "It takes dads a long time to deal with this. Dads, like doctors, are supposed to be able to take care of problems. Mr. Jacobs, with a great deal of soul-searching, has decided now is the time to fight. Some families never get to that point."

Married 18 years, the Jacobses head up a strong family that has not allowed gloom to envelop it. Larry calls Robin extraordinary. He makes terrible jokes; she laughs. Ari roughhouses with David at their Northridge home.

Robin says Church is one reason Ari "is still around. He's phenomenal."

The other reason? Ari, 63 pounds of grit.

"They picked on the wrong little girl," Larry says. "This little girl's not going to take it sitting down. She's feisty, and she's got an attitude."

One day, as Ari and Ethan were having a squabble, Ari stopped, hands planted defiantly on hips, and threatened him: " . . . and I'm going to live to be 80!"

Someday, Larry Jacobs is sure, Ariel Jacobs will be on the cover of Time magazine with a headline screaming, "SHE BEAT IT!"

Meanwhile, he says, "When I grow up, I'd like to be just like her."

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