May 16, 2024
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May 16, 2024
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Linking Northern and Central NJ, Bronx, Manhattan, Westchester and CT

Renewal Honors Passaic Kidney Donors

Rabbi Ronen Dvash delivering inspiring words.

Passaic and Clifton residents gathered at the Event Space in Brook Haven for an event honoring past kidney donors and encouraging people to swab and join a database for the organization Renewal to find the best medically indicated matches for kidney donation. The event was also held for the sake of Frank Snitow, father of Gary Snitow, who is suffering from kidney failure and needs a kidney donation.

At the event held on Sunday night, more than 250 people attended and over 100 people swabbed to join the database Renewal maintains of potential matches.

Rabbi Ronen Dvash, a rebbe at Heichal HaTorah and BY Machon Ora, is a recipient of a past kidney donation. He spoke to the attendees about how he was so exhausted, living life with failing kidneys, that “I lived from Taster’s Choice to Taster’s Choice.” Getting the kidney gave him a new lease on life and levels of energy he didn’t even know he could have.

Rabbi Pinchas Novoseller of Adas Yisroel gave divrei bracha and told inspiring stories about the power and priceless value of donating a kidney.

Rabbi Josh Sturm, Renewal’s director of outreach.

Another speaker, AJ Gindi, a Renewal community advocate, donated his kidney in 2013. He said, “We have someone in the community who needs a kidney. The line [to swab] has not stopped the entire night. It’s truly a case of lo taamod al dam re’acha. Someone in this situation, they are on dialysis for a few years, and then that’s the end of their story. By donating, you are giving them life.”

According to information shared by Renewal, statistically, only 10% of patients survive 10 years on dialysis. Dialysis is a very difficult and unpleasant experience, being hooked up to machines for hours at a time multiple times a week, making it hard to hold a job or take care of a family, usually also including severe side effects like nausea and vomiting.

Transplanted living donor kidneys work right away in 95% of cases, and have been known to last for many decades. Deceased donor kidneys not only have a long wait time but also have a much lower chance of success.

Panel Discussion with Heshy Cohen, husband of kidney donor Esther, and kidney donors Rabbi Elie Rothberger and Rabbi Yosef Jacobovics.

“There have been eight donors in the last 10 years who were from the Passaic community; iy”H there will be many more,” said Rabbi Josh Sturm, Renewal’s director of outreach.

“Matching is not a yes or no, it’s a spectrum,” he added. “So the more people who sign up, the best, most long lasting matches can be found.”

The event honored kidney donors from Passaic: Esti Cohen, Rabbi Yaakov Glaser (rav of the Young Israel of Passaic Clifton), Rabbi Yosef Jacobovics, Chaya Krimsky, Zahava Pianko, Rabbi Elie Rothberger, Penina Samet and Hadassah Stauber.

Stauber, of Passaic, donated her kidney six years ago and wishes she could do it again. She was beyond impressed at how well Renewal takes care of the donors afterwards. “I’m pretty streamlined,” she joked. “I have no appendix, no gallbladder and one less kidney. I am grateful to have the health to be able to do this.”

She experienced a straightforward recovery. “The first few days were hard, but after a week I felt better than I did before.”

Rabbi Pinchas Novaseller, rav of Adas.

Another Passaic kidney donor, Samet, said she also had an easy recovery. She donated her kidney to a Bukharian grandfather and has stayed in touch with him, his wife and his three adult daughters. “I speak on the phone with his wife every Erev Shabbos,” she said. “He calls me Peninitchke. He and his family just won’t stop with the hakaras hatov and they are always sending me gifts before yontif and helping me with anything they can. My life has been completely enhanced since they came into it. I’m making a bar mitzvah soon and they’ll be there. Not everyone has a connection to their donor afterwards, but I am so grateful that I am able to be a part of their lives.”

Samet thinks there is something very unique about this mitzvah. “In the hospital room when I was recovering, there was a chassid who donated the day after me, and we traded names with each other for Tehillim. I was thinking about how people from all walks of life have this shared language [as kidney donors], and how it really unifies all cross-sections of Jews. This [mitzvah] pierces the heart, no matter if they’re religious or not religious—it’s an amazing experience like no other.”

Many people are afraid to donate because they imagine that they will be limited in some way for the rest of their lives, but she wants to reassure them that it is not as difficult as they might think. “My life is the same before and after, I can eat and exercise the same, no special medications or anything. It hasn’t held me back. Two weeks after I gave the kidney, I went bike riding with my daughter for 2.7 miles.”

Rabbi Ronen Dvash embracing Renewal Director of Outreach
Rabbi Josh Sturm.

Rabbi Rothberger is a rebbe at YBH who donated a kidney. When it was time to tell his class about his plans, he didn’t expect them to be familiar with kidney donation—but as things turned out, three boys in the class had mothers who were kidney donors and one boy’s grandfather was a donor!

Rabbi Rothberger donated his kidney in March 2023. He had done the swab test at a Renewal event at the Tiferet Israel shul. Then a few months later, he got the call that he was a match. He spoke to his rabbi, Rabbi Glaser, who had already donated a kidney, and who gave him the encouragement to move forward in the process.

In the end, what gave him the confidence to go ahead was a feeling that “if I match, it’s for a reason.”

If you missed the event, you can contact Renewal to receive the at-home testing kit. It’s a simple cheek swab, nothing difficult or even uncomfortable. Visit www.renewal.org or call (718) 431-9831.

Kidney Donor Hadassah Stauber with volunteers Dina Snitow and Miriam Esther Jacobovics.
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