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Page 60 THE JEWISH PRESS  Friday, December 13, 2013

Community Currents Upcoming events…

and the Holocaust, with the Ben Hecht Award for Outstanding Journalism at the 115th annual Louis D. Brandeis Award National Dinner in Manhattan. “Through her writing as well as her actions, Prof. Bayefsky has made it her personal crusade to take a stand against racism and bigotry, and calling out the powers that be for the double standard so often used against Israel,” said Dr. Alan Kadish, president and CEO of the Touro College and University System, who was in attendance. “The people of Israel, as well as minorities around the world, owe her a debt of gratitude. We applaud Prof. Bayefsky for her work and congratulate her on receiving this prestigious award.” Prof. Bayefsky is a leading expert in the field of in-

The Holocaust Memorial and Tolerance Center of Nassau County will exhibit “Art as Conscience: The Holocaust Art of Aaron Morgan” through January 31, 2014. The Center is located at 100 Crescent Beach Road in Glen Cove, NY.

In recent news…

Touro Professor Receives Award From ZOA The Zionist Organization of America (ZOA) honored Professor Anne Bayefsky, the director of the Touro College Institute on Human Rights

ternational human rights law and anti-Semitism. A professor at Touro since 2005, she is also a senior fellow with the Hudson Institute and has taught at the University of Ottawa, York University and Columbia University Law School. She has served on many delegations to the United Nations with the government of Canada and various non-governmental organizations since 1984, and is a member of the International Law Association Committee on Human Rights Law and Practice. The editor-in-chief of the series “Refugees and Human Rights,” Prof. Bayefsky is the author or editor of 12 books in the field of human rights. She holds a B.A., M.A. and LL.B. from the University of Toronto, an MLitt from Oxford University and is a barrister and solicitor of the Ontario Bar.

Ezer Mizion: A Hand In The Dark Experiences From Another Planet Being the mother of a sick child is not simple. In our case, the struggle began with his birth. It was a surprise Caesarian section, and the baby was flown off to the preemie ward. We just stood there. Bewildered. Too frightened to unlock the gates to our emotions and allow ourselves to feel. They said there was something wrong in the blood tests. What? How bad? What will it mean for the future? Our future? This tiny, new person’s future? We didn’t ask. We were too scared. Then they released us, but said we should go to a pediatric hematologist. There were injections, blood infusions, and tests – lots and lots of tests. The hospital became his second home. The doctors and nurses, secretaries and lab workers, all became friends, family, and when necessary, consolers. And then came the diagnosis. There are advantages to diagnoses. When there is a diagnosis, there can be a prognosis. There are (or are not…) ways to treat the problem. But with the diagnosis also comes a rock, a huge boulder, sometimes also black, that sits itself on your heart. Your journey, the one you prayed all along would disappear in the mist like a nightmare at dawn, has only just begun. At night, you wonder if it is all your fault. Could you have prevented your sick genes from reaching him? And “What did he do, such a tiny little boy, that he has to go through this?” For the first time, our eyes turn outward. There are hands out there, extended, ready to support you lest you fall. People and organizations that are the epitome of all the good in the world. Foremost among them is Ezer Mizion’s wonderful staff and volunteers, with their warm, broad hearts. Before we even realized that we were running on empty, not having eaten a decent meal in days, meals began to arrive in the hospital; a professional appeared to help us cope emotionally; a medical expert came to help us through the maze and refer us to top people when we didn’t even know which field of specialists we needed; a mini-va-

cation was arranged at a retreat… Ezer Mizion provided it all. You try to tell yourself that you are strong, that you can handle it, that it is possible. But again and again you are broken. Broken by the lines in the printouts of his blood work, where the deviations from the norm screech out to you in bright red. Broken by another rise in temperature, requiring a run to the hospital. From another sleepless night, from another cry of a child that they are pricking, probing, injecting – again! And broken by a dream you had an eternity ago. A dream of being a mother –just a normal mother. You are desperate for normalcy, for a child with a sore throat, not with a disease that nobody even heard of. The doctors on the ward, and afterwards, the geneticists too, send us for a new kind of treatment – PGD – pre-implantation genetic diagnosis. When he is two years old, you go alone, day after day, for fertility treatments. You pray for another child, a healthy child, bright-eyed, smiley, and mischievous – and a donor for his older brother. You and your husband already went through an entire year of debating: Is it the right thing to do or not? But your desire mixed into the decision: You want another child, you want his brother alive. When the desire clicks in, the decision is clear. And in the delivery room, when the blessed cord blood is collected in a sterile bag, you discover your new little girl, a sweet beloved soul, a girl attached to her Mama, imbuing your parenthood with a new tranquility. Yehudah Elchanan is five years old, and his platelet count is at a new low. The hematologist says that we have to start thinking, get ready for… We did not yet digest his words. We did not yet understand, did not yet internalize. He was just five years old. He was just starting on his journey, wasn’t he? There would be other stops along the way. Multiplication tables. Book re-

ports. Camp. Marriage… or was this the end of the line? There was Ezer Mizion. Reaching out. Practical support. Psychological support. Love. Compassion. We moved to the Oncology Ward, on the top floor of the hospital, the closest to Heaven. Was the location chosen so that it would be a shorter trip…? Again, getting acquainted with a new staff. Again, crying in front of people, and this time, unfamiliar ones. Again bureaucracy. Only Ezer Mizion remained the same. Steady. Ever-present. Advising. Holding our hand. The day came to release the preserved cord blood, to figure out if and when to draw more, when to go in and according to which protocol. In the operating room, they put in a “Hickman,” a tap for his tiny arteries. And then we go into the ward. In this “other planet,” which is the Bone Marrow Transplant Division, I, an “almost settler” become the best friend of a father from Gaza. Our rooms are adjacent; the children of both of us are suffering. He had two others who died of blood disease years ago, and he is trying to save this one. We both understand this language, the language of the parent in pain. My hair covering fits right in with the other mother’s flowing hair and yashmaks. To all of us comes the smiling doctor with the big kippah and white beard. In this “other planet,” settlers and Palestinians fight together, worry together, care together. These are long days, the days in the transplant ward and the oncology ward. They are tough. They shatter you into a million pieces. The worry chokes your heart, but you are surrounded by help, support and love. Ezer Mizion never leaves our side. Two years have passed since then. Two years of new struggles with other forms of the illness. Two years during which I tell myself, and us, as a family: We fought and we prevailed. From now on, may we know only good.

Chai Lifeline Brightens Holiday For More Than 50,000 By Lisa Matkowsky Chai Lifeline goes all-out for children living with cancer and other life-threatening illnesses. Collecting and distributing 50,000 toys, games and electronics for sick children and their siblings, they also host parties for families and hospitalized patients around the world. “This is one of our favorite times of the year,” admitted Rabbi Simcha Scholar, the organization’s executive vice president. “It gives us a chance to touch so many lives in a short period of time, to foster relationships that enhance families year-round.” In New York close to 2,000 people came to Brooklyn’s Palace Hall for the organization’s Chanukah Gala. Each family received a gigantic box filled with toys collected as part of the Honey Engel Toy Drive. “About 20,000 toys were donated in the New York area alone,” explained program director Nachman Maimon. Over 800 attended the New Jersey Region Gala

in Lakewood, enjoying an appearance by Uncle Moishy. “Each child took home a huge carton of toys,” said event coordinator Rochel Mendlowitz. “We gave away over 10,000 toys!” On the West Coast families enjoyed their celebration, and the “Chanukah Angels program” reached record heights. Over 130 angels “adopted” a Chai Lifeline client or sibling. “Each angel receives a profile and a wish list,” explained regional director Randi Grossman, MPH. In the Southeast region, 30 children enjoyed a Florida Panthers game in a private box, and over 150 will celebrate at “FunderDome.” Twenty-two kids received gifts through the “Angels” program and the Uncle Danny Fund sent presents to over 200 children. Silver Spring and Baltimore had parties too. The Midwest region rejoiced at the Skokie Valley Agudath Jacob with activities, music, and lots

of presents. At Chaiyanu/Chai Lifeline Israel, parties are augmented by volunteers who visit homes, delivering gifts and also stopping at hospitals. Toys for children around the country are donated by the Ossie Schonfeld Toy Fund. Bashes in London and Manchester drew over 300. Camp Simcha UK collected over 4,000 toys for children in over 100 hospitals across the country and Chief Rabbi Ephraim Mirvis joined director Neville Goldschneider at the Royal Free Hospital in delivering balloons. Chai Lifeline Canada was also in on the fun. In Toronto, over 350 people partied at the E-Zone Entertainment Centre. “We had so many gifts we had to rent a truck,” marvelled Jennifer Gelberger, event coordinator. Montreal had its own gala, with over 200 guests. (See images on page 63.)

Page 62 THE JEWISH PRESS  Friday, December 13, 2013

Community Currents Queens was ablaze in Chanukah spirit on Sunday, December 1, thanks to CHAZAQ’s Community Chanukah Carnival that attracted hundreds of youngsters and their parents, and politicians, from Queens and beyond.

On the sixth night of Chanukah, students and faculty of SUNY Downstate joined members of the Crown Heights community for a menorah lighting arranged by the rav of SUNY Downstate, Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Holtzman. Rabbi Chaim Fogelman uplifted the crowd with live music and singing as the participants were treated to hot latkes and doughnuts. NYC Councilman Dr. Eugene addressed the crowd and the dean of SUNY Medical College, Dr. Ian L. Taylor, joined the festivities.

(L-R) Rabbi Yosef Yitzchok Holtzman, Councilman Matthew Eugene, and Rav Yaakov Holtzman.

Congresswoman Meng, Assemblyman Weprin, Rabbi Lonner, Mr. Yaniv Meirov and Rabbi Meirov at the Chanukah Community Carnival. (Photo credit: Stan Davydov Productions) Eighty venture capital and angel investors gathered The Biggest Chanukah Ice Cream Doughnut in The at the New York Stock Exchange to debate new capWorld, made by Klein’s Kosher/Ice Cream House. ital models at an investors breakfast organized by the US Israel Business Council (USI). Seated right to left: Jon Medved, founder and CEO of “OurCrowd”; Dr. Uri Geiger, managing partner at Accelmed; and attorney Andrew Peskoe, partner at Golenbock, Eiseman, Assor, Bell, & Peskoe LLP.

Rabbi Moshe Ungar addressing the crowd at the Philadelphia Community Kollel Chanukah mesiba.

At the Tribute to Sephardic Jewry – Congressional Luncheon. (L-R) Rabbi Shimon Alouf; Rabbi Joshua Maroof; Senator Ted Cruz; Maurice Shohet; Yehuda Azoulay, founder Sephardic Legacy Series; Rabbi Dr. Elie Abadie; Raymond Saka; Jacob Abecassis; and Ezra Friedlander, CEO of The Friedlander Group.

Otsar’s Chevra, a day habilitation program without walls for men in their 20’s and 30’s, has added a Music Therapy Program for its participants.

Friday, December 13, 2013 THE JEWISH PRESS  Page 63

Community Currents The White Shul in Far Rockaway opened its doors on Tuesday evening, November 26, for the Kids of Courage Annual Chanukah Extravaganza. This inspiring group of medically fragile children and young adults spent hours dancing to the beat of the popular Beri Weber. The Couragers were joined by over 150 volunteers who created a magical en‘light’ening evening. After having their faces painted, watching magic tricks, and eating delicious latkes and donuts, each child went home with a photo and festively-wrapped gift courtesy of The Mitzvah Man. On Tuesday, December 3, Robert T. Gross, a representative of New York Community Bank, Roosevelt Division, kindled the huge menorah in front of the Brooklyn Supreme Court alongside Rabbi Aaron L. Raskin, spiritual leader of Congregation Bnai Avraham and Executive vice president of Chabad of Brooklyn Heights. The NYCB

Family of Banks’s Boro Park team said: “We are excited to have this opportunity to take part in a community tradition and to get to know the people we will be serving in the near future.” The Flatbush Shomrim Safety Patrol recently held a party for Councilman-elect Chaim Deutsch.

(L-R) Naftali Rosenberg, Boruch Moskovitz, Councilman elect Chaim Deutsch, NYPD Chief Thomas, and Tzvi Weill.

Chai Lifeline celebrated Chanukah with children and families across the globe. (See article on page 60.)

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