April 17, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Englewood Hosts Ezer Mizion Shabbaton

Dr. and Mrs. Alan Spiegel receiving award from Rabbi Chananya Chollak, founder of Ezer Mizion.

(Courtesy of Ezer Mizion) It’s a small community next to the big boys like New York City, but a giant in warmth and caring. Four years ago, the Jewish community in Englewood undertook the purchase of an Ezer Mizion Personalized Donor Pool whereby the genetic testing of a specific number of new registrants was funded by the community. Those registrants were flagged and when one of them is found to be a match for a cancer patient, the community is notified with the electrifying words: You have saved a life!

Would they ever be called? Would one of ‘their’ registrants ever be one to be chosen from the over a million as the best genetic match for a patient?

The answer is a resounding yes. In fact, 20 yesses. In four years, the call was received 20 times. Twenty Jewish lives were saved. Twenty families remained whole. Twenty families were suddenly catapulted from the black world of despair into joy and sunshine when the phone call arrived: We found a match!

Recently a shabbaton, capably spearheaded and overseen by Dr. Alan Spiegel, an exemplary, compassionate Jew, was held. It had been an elevating Shabbos with Rav Asher Weiss providing inspiration and chizuk, emphasizing the importance of saving even one life.

Joining the event was Noam, who traveled to the U.S. from Israel to tell her story. She had been there. Amid the nightmare of terror on October 7. All around her, friends and neighbors were screaming. Death was everywhere. Somehow, she was saved. She emerged from that day of terror with the question: “Why?” Why was she saved while so many others were not?

It was shortly afterwards that she received an answer. Eons ago, when life was still calm and predictable, she had registered as a potential stem cell donor in Ezer Mizion’s International Jewish Bone Marrow Registry. It was now that she received the phone call. Now, when her insides were still screaming, when the pain was still so raw, when she herself was in need of comfort. She answered the call and, unhesitatingly, donated her cells to save the life of another Jew. And gradually the healing began. Giving was the ointment she had needed to heal the wounds. In saving another, she found meaning to her own life.

Ron was another who traveled to the U.S. to share his story. He served in the IDF at a Homefront Unit, actively rescuing citizens. He, too, had donated stem cells about a year ago. Ron received the surprise of his life when he was asked if he would like to meet the man whose life he had saved. His heart thumping, he nodded as Ezer Mizion led a “walking miracle” to the stage. He appeared perfectly healthy, not a trace of the disease that had threatened his very life such a short time ago.

The two men embraced, their very souls entwined. The vast hall was silent as the two blood brothers met for the first time.

This stirring event was greatly enhanced by the uplifting chazonos (cantorial rendition) of Cantor Helfgott. The Kallub Music Group created a festive atmosphere for Havdalah (ritual ending of the Sabbath).

The guests heard how so many lives had been saved. Yet, many, many—some of them small children—are still waiting for the match that will mean life. They heard and they opened their hearts. Thank you, Englewood Community. Your pool is growing by leaps and bounds and you will soon be hearing, once again, those precious words: You have saved a life!

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