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Renewal ‘Reunion’ Celebrates 1000+ Milestones

Dr. Tamar and Dr. Stuart Green

One thing that was abundantly clear at “The Reunion” gathering held by the Renewal organization in the Count Basie Theater in Red Bank on Sunday, January 7 is that this group has inspired an exceptionally passionate and growing following, who deeply appreciate its life-saving work.

Founded in 2006 and based in Brooklyn, Renewal assists patients diagnosed with kidney failure and their families as they seek to obtain a kidney transplant. Renewal assists patients with all the medical challenges of a transplant; its services are free of charge to all those in need.

Renewal provides advice on doctors and hospitals, offers a thorough published guide on the process of donating a kidney, and provides a range of support to kidney donors as well. The website features endorsements from a range of rabbonim, including Rabbi Dovid Feinstein, Rabbi Aryeh Malkiel Kotler, Rabbi Yechiel Michel Steinmetz, and others. It also shares medical opinions on the safety of kidney donations from seven noted medical leaders in the New York/New Jersey area.

Louis Loketch

Renewal held The Reunion event to celebrate reaching and surpassing their 1,000th kidney transplant and to spotlight their support services. Kidney donors and recipients, their families, and Renewal staff and supporters came out in appreciable numbers to help mark the successes of the organization. Staff at The Count Basie Theater told The Jewish Link that the floor of the theater holds 1,000 seats, with another 600 in the balcony levels; the seats were filled during the formal program.

Attendees were happy to share with The Jewish Link their experiences with kidney donation and Renewal.

Rabbi Avraham Cooper of Lakewood, executive director of Chai Lifeline, said that he donated a kidney in 2019, inspired by a close friend who had donated a kidney four years earlier. “I realized how easy the process is and I wanted to save another person, even if I didn’t know him or her.” He proudly shared that he is donor #609.

Devorah Markovitz with her family.

Dr. Tamar Green of Highland Park, who attended the event with her husband, Dr. Stuart Green, said of her decision to donate a kidney, “It was the best thing I ever did.”

Yehuda Spiegel of Lakewood received a kidney, with the help of Renewal, 10 years ago. He noted that “it was really coincidental,” how he learned about the organization, because “it wasn’t really well known then.” He said “I want to thank them; they were very helpful” and he is happy to be in touch with his donor, Aaron Krikheli.

Krikheli of Lakewood said that he initially attended a Renewal information session at the suggestion of his wife and is proud to have donated a kidney to Spiegel, who was 16 at the time and is now married and building a family.

Aliza Fund

Louis Loketch of Monsey donated a kidney 10 years ago, after seeing an ad from Renewal. His wife, Dina, who attended the event with him, shared that she is “very proud” of her husband for doing this selfless act.

Aliza Fund of Lakewood donated a kidney in April 2021, after hearing someone speak at a Renewal event about the process in November 2019. She donated the kidney to a woman whom doctors had given a “one in a million” chance to find a donor; the two women have become “very close” and Aliza reports that she hosts the woman’s children for Shabbat.

Devorah Markowitz of Lakewood donated a liver to her sister’s husband in January 2020, after 20 family members were tested and she emerged as the best match. She said, “I felt that Hashem called me up to do this.” She attended The Reunion event with her husband and daughter.

Rabbi Avrohom Cooper (left) with Aaron Krikheli at the Renewal event.

Attendees were treated to an evening that started with a gourmet buffet dinner. Afterwards, they were invited into the theater for a well-orchestrated program with a variety of prominent guests. Comedian and talk show host Mendy Pellin was the evening’s emcee. Renewal Outreach Director Rabbi Josh Sturm and Renewal Founder and Director Mendy Reiner spoke. The program featured a tribute to Renewal’s major supporter Boruch Hollander, z”l; a conversation with three mothers of students in the same class at Yeshiva Beit Hillel in Passaic who are all kidney donors; video testimonials from donor recipients and their family members, remarks by David Greenfield, chair of the New York Metropolitan Council on Jewish Poverty; presentations by Renewal advisers Ilan Kaufthal and Dr. Kenneth Prager, and more.

It was an evening filled with strong feelings of hakarat hatov for a remarkable organization that has touched thousands of lives, and enthusiastic plans for Renewal’s continued growth and impact. Judging from the conviction and commitment of the hundreds of attendees, those big plans look very likely to succeed.

For more information about Renewal, visit their website at https://www.renewal.org

Renewal will be hosting a swabbing and awareness event in Teaneck on Sunday February 4 at Congregation Rinat Yisrael, on behalf of two community members in need.

Harry Glazer is the Middlesex County editor of The Jewish Link. He can be reached at [email protected]

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