May 30, 2024
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Just One Life Virtual Event Highlights Organization’s Crucial Work

One of the prime features, or challenges, of a fundraising event in the COVID-19 era is that often these functions are stripped down to their bare essentials.

Pre-COVID-19, a parlor meeting for an important cause would feature a set of ancillary attractions that helped draw a crowd and create a favorable impression: the opportunity to visit a prominent community member’s home, table(s) spread out with enticing hors d’oeuvres and desserts, an occasion for socializing and meeting new people, and hearing from a well-known speaker and more.

In the current climate, the parlor meeting, held as a videoconference, must sink or swim on the strength of its promotional video and the charm and inspirational capacity of the marquee speaker.

Judging by the July 28 livestream event to benefit the Just One Life organization, which was hosted by Rachel and Azi Mandel of Bergenfield, those bare essentials are all a well-regarded organization needs to effectively make its case.

Just One Life/Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael offers expectant mothers in Israel a helping hand and an array of services to guide them through the months of pregnancy and beyond. Pregnant women in crisis are referred Nefesh Achat in Israel by various hospitals like Shaare Zedek hospital, doctors, nurses and social service agencies from around the country. Often, their clients struggle with a variety of challenges associated with their pregnancies, including complications due to unexpected and/or high-risk pregnancies and/or related or pre-existing medical, psychological and emotional conditions or financial difficulties. As a result of the overwhelming circumstances they find themselves in, clients also experience anxiety, ambivalence, fear, loneliness, and helplessness, among others.

Just One Life works to provide a support system set up to empower each and every client, by providing them with a multitude of diverse yet complementary services while working to help them learn skills to overcome what often seem to be insurmountable and overwhelming challenges. Since its founding 31 years ago, Just One Life has enabled pregnant women to more confidently give birth to over 18,500 children.

The July 28 event began with brief remarks by Azi Mandel, who noted that due to COVID-19, “We’ve lost so many good people.” He then asked, “What can we do to rebuild?” He pointed to the work of Just One Life as a strong answer and introduced keynote speaker Rabbi Martin Katz, founding executive vice president of the group.

Rabbi Katz welcomed those participating in the livestream and introduced the organization’s newest video to illustrate the work of the group.

In the video two of the organization’s Israeli social workers, Atara Block and Liana Rubinstein, each discussed a specific case they had worked on recently—one a pregnant woman who was scared to give birth during the COVID-19 restrictions, the other a pregnant mother with six kids whose husband had just abandoned her—and the different services and support they provided in each situation to help bring the pregnancies to term. Chaya Katzin, director of the Israeli offices of Nefesh Achat B’Yisrael, pointed out that the organization now supports about 500 pregnant women a year and does so successfully by providing assistance tailored to each woman’s unique circumstances, before and after the birth.

Katzin noted that the organization’s dream is to open more offices in Israel and serve even more clients. She mentioned that it costs the group an average of $1,800 to assist each mother and baby.

Rabbi Katz then introduced Rabbi YY Jacobson, noted author and speaker, who addressed the livestream from the Mandel’s home.

Rabbi Jacobson asked why, on Rosh Hashanah, the anniversary of the creation of the world, we read three stories in shul about women being “remembered” by Hashem and giving birth, rather than reading the beginning of Bereshit, which describes the actual creation of the world? He answered: “Because how do Jews celebrate the birth of the world? By focusing on our children.”

Rabbi Jacobson shared the story of Sol Teichman of Los Angeles, an older man in the frum community who is well known for being an open-hearted man who helps many others. He was once asked why he dedicated himself so completely to chesed. He responded by telling the story of how, as a young Jew from Munkatch who was transported during the Shoah in a cattle car to a selection line at a concentration camp, he was “coached” by a man he’d never met before on the correct answer to the question, “When were you born?” The answer he was given allowed him to survive the selection. He said: “I was saved by that person. I had an angel who saved me. So I decided that I wanted to be an angel for others from then on.”

Rabbi Jacobson concluded by stating that with Just One Life, each of us can be that angel for another neshama.

To learn more about Just One Life or to make a contribution, visit justonelife.org. For more information call Rabbi Martin Katz at 347-996-7751 or email [email protected]. Checks can be mailed to Just One Life, 587 5th Ave, Room 702, New York, NY 10017.

By Harry Glazer

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