July 18, 2024
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Englewood’s ‘Shabbat of Heroes’ to Culminate in Connection to Worldwide Stem Cell Registry

The “Shabbat of Heroes” taking place in Englewood on March 29-30 will culminate in a special program on Motzei Shabbat. Members of the Englewood and surrounding communities will be given the opportunity to join the community of “heroes” in the Jewish stem cell registry represented by Ezer Mizion through the formation of donor pools. These family or community groups will sponsor the thousands of swabbings that take place daily in Israel and that have resulted in the creation of the largest Jewish stem cell registry in the world. Having just celebrated its 21st anniversary, the Ezer Mizion Stem Cell Registry has grown to over 965,000 members who are ready to donate their stem cells. From its inception in 1998, the Ezer Mizion stem cell registry has saved the lives of over 3,000 men, women and children in Israel and across the globe.

Ezer Mizion, founded in the 1970s by International Chairman Rabbi Chananya Chollak, functions as one of the largest paramedical organizations in Israel, providing elder care, support for cancer patients, an extensive meal program, a fleet of ambulances, hydrotherapy, and support for individuals with special needs among many other services. These services are provided by over 3,000 employees and over 30,000 volunteers.

In 1998, the mission of Ezer Mizion was greatly expanded through the vision of the late Motti Zisser, z”l. Together with his wife, Bracha, the Zissers spearheaded a massive change in the treatment of cancer within the Jewish world. They created the largest Jewish stem cell registry in the world, which today is directed by Dr. Bracha Zitter. Twenty years ago, despite there being 30 million people in worldwide registries, only a small percentage were of Jewish background, and the chances of finding a match for a Jewish patient was only 8 percent. Today, as a result of the Ezer Mizion registry’s innovation, the chances for finding a suitable match for a Jewish patient has risen to 76 percent.

Statistically, only 25 percent of cancer patients will find a stem cell match within their own families, which leaves 75 percent who will need stem cells from strangers. Through a game-changing move in 2005, the IDF aligned itself with Ezer Mizion, signing a landmark agreement that enables every recruit to join the registry as part of their army induction. While undergoing their medical evaluations at the Bakum, inductees into the IDF are swabbed and placed into the Ezer Mizion stem cell registry. This partnership created the world’s largest Jewish stem cell registry, numbering over 965,000 registrants to date with over 525,000 coming from the IDF.

This collaboration with the IDF constantly infuses the registry with young, healthy recruits from the broad spectrum of ethnic groups and genetic combinations, thus greatly expediting DNA matches for cancer patients around the globe. In 2018 alone, 77,831 new members joined the registry, of whom 28,803 were civilians and over 49,000 were IDF recruits. Of the transplants carried out in 2018, 88 percent were from stem cells donated by IDF soldiers.

With the addition of the IDF, the Ezer Mizion registry is the sixth largest in the world and is a member of the World Bone Marrow Organization, which hosts 12 sites worldwide. It services the 14 million Jews worldwide including in the U.S., France, Germany, Italy, Spain, Turkey and Israel. The registry is housed in Oranit, a state-of-the art facility located in Petach Tikvah.The facility houses Ezer Mizion’s own harvesting center as well. Individuals come to Oranit and centers around the country to be swabbed in a friendly environment as opposed to a hospital setting. This past September, a massive drive was held during which 16,000 people were swabbed in one day. This past February alone, 39 transplants were facilitated by the Ezer Mizion registry throughout the world..

At a cost of $50 per swab, Ezer Mizion relies almost entirely upon private donations. Therefore, during its upcoming “Shabbat of Heroes,” in addition to swabbing members of the community between the ages of 20 and 45, Ezer Mizion hopes to form donor pools through which individual families or groups of families will pool their resources to underwrite the swabbing of large numbers of IDF soldiers..

According to Ryan Hyman, a Teaneck resident who serves as the national director of development for Ezer Mizion, “Nothing can compare to the feeling one experiences when notified by Ezer Mizion that a match from the donor pool sponsored by them and their family has resulted in a successful procedure that saved the life of a fellow Jew. There are well-known families within the American Jewish community who have saved over 100 lives through their generous donor pools. These include Ira and Ingeborg Rennert, George and Pamela Rohr and Gloria Kaylie.”

The “Shabbat of Heroes” is slated to be an unforgettable Shabbat of inspiration. Former Chief Rabbi of Israel Harav Yisrael Meir Lau will be addressing the community throughout Shabbat at Congregation Ahavath Torah and the East Hill Synagogue. Shabbat davening will be conducted by renowned Israeli Chazan Yitzchak Meir Helfgot. On Motzei Shabbat, at Congregation Ahavath Torah, a musical Havdalah will be led by Simcha Leiner followed by an address by Rav Lau. A “Shuk Machane Yehuda” collation will offer wine, cheese and halva from the Holy Land.

Please join Ezer Mizion as they honor the true heroes of our nation, the IDF soldiers who protect us on the battlefield as well as in the fight against cancer in patients throughout the Jewish community worldwide.

Learn more about Ezer Mizion and RSVP for the “Shabbat of Heroes” by going to shabbatofheroes.com or contact National Director of Development Ryan Hyman at [email protected] or 718-853-8400 ext.109.

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