May 21, 2024
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Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society Kicks Off Bergen Advocacy With Sold-Out Modi Comedy Show

More than 550 people showed up last week to support Rofeh Cholim Cancer Society (RCCS) at its first large-scale public event in Bergen County, a fundraiser featuring the popular comedian Modi. Held at Congregation Ahavath Torah in Englewood, the evening featured an introductory video of the important work RCCS does to help cancer patients and their families, and a few words by Yossi Hecht, an inspirational client of RCCS. Hecht, who currently rocks a wheelchair for transportation, said he first experienced the miraculous work of RCCS during the illness of his mother, and more recently utilized RCCS’s comprehensive services, such as medical referrals and insurance funding, during his recent bout with cancer of the spinal cord. His joie de vivre and enthusiasm for RCCS was truly inspiring to everyone in the room.

Rabbi Dovid Cofnas, the regional director for RCCS Bergen County, said that the event had surpassed all expectations, noting he was overjoyed that so many people had come out to support local cancer patients. Cofnas shared that RCCS has its roots in an incident in 1997, when a friend of Rabbi Hershel Kohn crashed his car into a horse-and-buggy near Central Park and learned from hospital staff that not only had he broken his leg, he also had brain cancer. The friend had also recently lapsed on his insurance payments and believed he wasn’t going to survive because he couldn’t afford medical treatment.

Rabbi Kohn, the owner of a large payroll company in Brooklyn, took over his friend’s insurance payments and was soon approached by two other people with the same kind of request. Rabbi Kohn took them on as well! Subsequently, two of Rabbi Kohn’s rabbinic mentors, Rav Pam and the Bobover Rav, encouraged him to start a new organization to address this major communal challenge. They understood that a Jew on his own without adequate funds is not going to be able to get the best medical treatment, but Klal Yisrael pulling together and making sure that every Jewish person diagnosed with cancer has the best medical insurance that money can buy, could save a tremendous amount of lives.

The rest, as they say, is history.

“Today RCCS is a multifaceted organization that deals with the complex needs of seriously ill patients from A to Z, with one goal—to do whatever is humanly possible to maximize the recovery and save the lives of Jewish cancer patients here and in Israel. We have 75 full-time staff and a budget of $16.5 million; Over the last 12 months, we have helped 3,700 cancer patients, 2,500 here and 1,200 in Israel,” Rabbi Cofnas told the sold-out crowd, to thunderous applause.

“I believe the secret to the success of RCCS is that we look at cancer like a war, and the only way we have a chance at winning this war is to have the very best weapons and tools to fight with, and that’s what RCCS offers its patients,” he said.

Cofnas explained that RCCS has four main tools—or weapons—to fight the battle against cancer. Firstly, because of the close relationships built up over 25 years with top cancer specialists all over the world, RCCS is able to offer highly specialized medical referrals. “We’re also able to get appointments fast, often in days, and even in less time than that if we’re in a situation where every moment counts!”

Second, sometimes a patient’s insurance doesn’t cover particular experts, so RCCS will do everything it can to help, and send the patient to an insurance broker who will often be able to help them find a better plan. Third, and staying true to Rabbi Kohn’s original goal, RCCS offers substantial financial assistance, paying the patient’s entire medical insurance bill which can often come to tens of thousands of dollars per year. “We also give out generous medical subsidies for co-pays, co-insurance costs and out of pocket expenses,” said R’ Cofnas.

Last, “Insurance companies will often challenge or deny large claims, insisting that the operation or the medication that the patient needs desperately can be obtained for a lower cost elsewhere. RCCS’s insurance advocacy team fights and most often wins these cases. In fact, in the last 12 months we recovered almost $12 million in denied claims for our patients,”  Cofnas said.

After the main event, with Modi delivering his trademark side splitting Jewish humor with Jackie-Mason-style delivery, the crowd departed to purchase raffle tickets, check out the contents of a beautiful gift bag containing treats from sponsors such as World of Goodies, Glatt Express, Vineyard, Farmer’s Pantry and Corehome, and enjoyed refreshments sponsored by Grand & Essex and Lazy Bean. The buzz in the lobby indicated that the group had really enjoyed the night out and was glad to support such a worthy organization.

“I was so thrilled to see the amazing turnout tonight,” said Cofnas. “If people take home the message that they heard, and they understand that RCCS has 25 years of experience successfully helping Jewish cancer patients, and has the tools and resources that will benefit people with every type of cancer and in every age group, then I think we will have accomplished our main goal. There is no doubt in my mind that if this information is acted upon and hopefully passed on, it will help save many lives in Bergen County and beyond.”

Learn more about RCCS and how you can utilize resources or support its important work at https://www.rccscancer.org/ or by contacting R’ Dovid Cofnas at 201-575-9080.

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