Nate Geller of Teaneck was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) at the end of April of this year, and is in desperate need of lifesaving blood stem cell donations. To date, through postings on Facebook, as well as via Congregations Beth Sholom and Bnai Yeshurun in Teaneck; Congregation B’nai Israel in Rockville, Maryland; Hadar; Camp Ramah in New England; and the listserv of Conservative rabbis in Israel, more than 100 donors have swabbed for “Be The Match,” a chesed organization that maintains a registry for these stem cell donations. The more people who submit swabs, the higher the chance that a match will be found for Nate and other cancer patients who can be helped on their path to recovery through such donations.
Nate and Lyn Light Geller have resided in Teaneck for over 30 years. They have been active members of the Beth Sholom family, where Lyn served as president for two years, and also chairperson of the board under the rabbinic leadership of Rabbi Joel Pitkowsky. The Gellers both work as Jewish-community professionals: Lyn has worked for the past 25 years for UJA-Federation of New York, where she was recently named the associate executive director of the New Community Resources Team, while Nate served for many years in executive positions at various Jewish organizations, including the Abraham Fund, the Schechter Institute of Jewish Studies and the National Conference on Russian Jewry. Currently he serves as the assistant director of development for 70 Faces Media, a not-for-profit digital media company that aspires “to connect to as many people as possible on all sides of the unfolding Jewish story.”
Nate is particularly proud of one of the latest educational initiatives to be undertaken by 70 Faces Media. In January 2020, the group began its first daily online Daf Yomi learning program, which now hosts over 7,000 Facebook participants and 500 discussions daily. The group completed Masechtot Brachot and Shabbat and now is in the midst of Eruvin.
Nate began treatments in early May. At the end of May, it was suggested that he join a medical research study taking place at Hackensack Hospital. The study required him to undergo a regimen of chemotherapy and aspiration almost daily. Fortunately, he is now in remission, which translates into his being a good candidate for effective blood stem cell donations.
The Gellers are the parents of three adult children who are following closely in the footsteps of their parents. Their daughter Aliza resides in Chicago, where she is a “Jewish activist,” teaching in the Jewish Enrichment Center and recently co-chairing the huge Limmud event as well as being involved in many other community educational programs. Their son, Yaakov, is a graduate of Chovevei’s rabbinical program and resides in Rochester with his wife and two children. Their daughter Ariana, a graduate of Solomon Schechter and The Heschel School, is a program associate in the Business Improvement Division for the City of Yonkers.
On Father’s Day, this past June 14, Ariana posted a call on Facebook for life-saving stem cell donations to be donated to Hackensack Hospital through “Be The Match.” From Facebook, the posting was posted to other sites, including local newspapers such as The Jewish Link.
Her post reads: “For those of you wondering how to help the Geller family, they have asked us to share one safe, simple and very impactful act of chesed (kindness). If you are between the ages of 18-44, you are the perfect candidate to be a blood stem cell donor at no cost. If you are between the ages of 45-60, you can also join the registry but will be asked to make a $100 donation to cover the cost of the more intricate test. Register at http://Join.BeThe Match.org/Hesed.You can also simply text “Hesed” to 61474 to register. “Be The Match” will send you a swab to return to them in the mail. This link and code will allow the Geller family to anonymously track how many people register and send in a swab for Nate Geller.”
In appreciation of every swab, the Geller family will be donating $5 to the Equal Justice Initiative, an organization founded some 20 years ago by Brian Stevenson, author of “Just Mercy,” to fight racial injustice. In addition, for each sharing of the original Facebook post, the Gellers will donate $1 up to a maximum of $1000.
Nate invites the community to log in to his blog at www.gesherlhesed.com called “My Yiddishe Cup,” where he shares how he has found his voice in coping with his battle.
We urge community members who are eligible to join the registry and help spread the Gellers’ message. Register at http://Join.BeTheMatch.org/Hesed or text “Hesed” to 61474.
By Pearl Markovitz