May 26, 2024
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Rachel Dube: Committed to Caring for Ugandan Youth

Rachel Dube is on a mission. That mission is all about chesed. “I want to leave the world a better place, and fill the world with goodness and happiness where ever I can,” says Rachel. She, along with her husband, Mike, runs the Dube Zone, a children’s sports programming company. The couple shares a passion for chesed and is always thinking of things to do to help others. In fact Mike created a non-profit organization, Sharing Seats, which provides sick and underprivileged children event tickets that may otherwise go unused. He has served as an inspiration for Rachel’s drive to perform chesed. Recently, another cause has inspired Rachel.

That cause is the Abayudaya Jewish community located in Uganda. Rachel learned of this cause through a video by D’vora Biderman-Gross. D’vora is a recent graduate of New York University. Her degree is in dental hygiene. Armed with a desire to do global outreach, D’vora scanned the American Dental Association website. Her only criteria were that while performing dental outreach, she be able to eat kosher food and keep Shabbos. Ultimately D’vora ended up in Uganda serving the Abayudaya Jewish community. “I was working up to 12 hours a day providing free dental service, yet I went to bed with a smile on my face. The people there are always in pain, and it made me feel better as a person to help them.” In the video that Rachel saw, D’vora shares her observations made while on the health excursion to Uganda in the Abayudaya community.

Like others who viewed the video, Rachel was moved. After all, this is a Jewish community that is in great need of even the most basic things including toothbrushes, toothpaste and more (D’vora actually had to teach the people how to use a toothbrush). They are, however, serious about Yiddishkeit. The community entails eight villages, and each has its own shul. There is a day school and a yeshiva there as well. The students learn how to read and speak Hebrew and how to daven.

Rachel was determined to do what she could to assist the Abayudaya Jewish community. She contacted D’vora who was planning on going on a second mission and asked how she could help. It happened to be that on D’vora’s first Shabbos in Uganda, there was a massive youth convention. After talking with Sampson Nderitu, president of the Abayudaya Youth Association, D’vora learned that they lacked sports equipment. So, when Rahcel approached to see how she could help, it was a clear Shidduch.

“I had jerseys that were just sitting in my garage, and now they are being put to good use,” said Rachel. In addition to donating the jerseys, Rachel donated basketballs, volleyballs, footballs, soccer balls;  pumps, needles, and a camera. She also told her dentist of the story, and he donated as well. Since making the donation (D’vora delivered it along with other items she and others got together when she returned to Uganda on a second mission), Rachel often hears from the community. She is in regular contact with Seth Jonadav, the head teacher at the yeshiva high school, who has thanked her many times.

However, Rachel does not perform chesed for thanks. While she is amazed that there is a Jewish community in Uganda and fascinated by its history, her thoughts start at home. “I’m always thinking about ways to bring our kids an understanding of the world beyond Bergen County.” Rachel wants the youth in Bergen County to recognize the blessings they have and to know that the simple things for them are not necessarily so simple for others.

The first step in Rachel’s quest to educate the youth of Bergen County started at home. The Dubes have an 11-year-old son and a 9-year-old daughter. Rachel showed them D’vora’s video and talked to them about what was happening in the Abayudaya Jewish community. “Now, when they are told to go brush their teeth, they realize that they are blessed,” said Rachel. In addition, the children want to help as well, and so, they went along with Rachel to buy dental products to be delivered to Uganda.

With that mission accomplished, Rachel wants to go beyond her doorstep. Besides contacting friends and family to donate, Rachel is striving to bring D’vora to the local day schools. “I think the uniqueness of the story would appeal to kids and help them appreciate all they have.” She also hopes that the students will take up the cause similarly to her own children.

D’vora Biederman-Gross is aiming to return on another mission to Uganda. This self-described independent and self-motivated young woman says, “My whole life is about volunteering—it’s just who I am.” As D’vora strives to raise money for her trip and supplies for the Abayudaya Jewish community, she is on a mission to share their story. The compelling story of fellow Jews has enlivened many to the cause. Rachel Dube is one of those people, and she is happy to know that “my work is making an impact.”

To view D’vora’s video, visit http://vimeo.com/111226288

To support Dvora’s mission, go to: https://www.crowdrise.com/AbayudayaJewishDentalExcursion/fundraiser/dvorabidermangross

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