June 22, 2024
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June 22, 2024
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Gershon Distenfeld Pledges WSOP Winnings to Charity

Former Bergenfield resident Gershon Distenfeld emerged victorious in the final round of Event #48: $1,500 Shootout No-Limit Hold’em at the 2021 World Series of Poker (WSOP) tournament, defeating Johan Schumacher on the third and final day of play. Distenfeld won more than $200,000, and also took home his first-ever WSOP bracelet. He plans to donate all of his winnings to charity.

Distenfeld hopes that by donating to various charities, as he did with the winnings from his Main Event final table last year, he will inspire other poker players to be more philanthropic as well.

“My wife Aviva and I are focused on charities that help make the world a better place,” Distenfeld shared.

As reported on PokerNews.com, Distenfeld said, “Aviva and I have been blessed with financial means and it’s a core value of ours to give both our money and our time to help make the world a better place … I’d love to offer a challenge to every bracelet winner to give away 1% of their money to the charity of their choice. There’s no lack of needs out there. If I could have a lasting impact in the poker community, it would be that.”

Distenfeld shared these thoughts with The Jewish Link: “I don’t want anyone to aspire to play poker. It’s not for most people and the time can be spent much better elsewhere. The lesson is not even that one should give a lot of tzedakah (although one certainly should—each according to what Hashem has blessed them with). The real lesson is that one should always strive to make a kiddush Hashem wherever they find themselves. Each of us will end up in their own unique situation where they can be me mekadesh shem shamayim or challilah the opposite. If one can make a kiddush Hashem in something as unholy—I’m being kind—as poker, it can be done anywhere!”

The morning after his victory, Distenfeld shared with PokerNews the charities he selected to receive funds.

“And all of this in memory of my dear friend and largest poker fan Yonky Berger, who passed away six weeks ago after a battle with cancer,” he said. “I hope he’s looking down from heaven with pride. I’m crushed that I can’t celebrate this accomplishment with you.”

Charity Series of Poker (CSOP)—Benefitting Three Square Food Bank and Families for Effective Autism Treatment.

Leket—Leket (Hebrew word for “gleaning”) rescues excess food that would go to waste and distributes it to the needy.

Yad Leah—Collects and distributes lightly used clothing donations while preserving the dignity and privacy of the recipients.

Minds Matter—Minds Matter connects driven and determined students from low-income families with the people, preparation and possibilities to succeed in college, create their future and change the world.

Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society—Provides an array of services for cancer-stricken patients in need.

Iron Mike Youth Foundation—Changes the lives of children and families through youth sports. This charity was recently started by the family of Distenfeld’s late friend Mike Snyder who tragically passed away three years ago at the age of 57. “Me winning this bracelet would have brought him so much joy,” said Distenfeld.

Young Israel of Hollywood’s Thanksgiving food drive.

Chabad of Emerald Hills, the synagogue to which the Distenfelds belong.

By Jill Kirsch


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