May 28, 2024
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May 28, 2024
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‘The Journey Must Continue’

In February 2016, The Jewish Link reported about a young boy, Ari Goodman, who had been diagnosed with severe low-functioning autism at the age of 18 months. As his mother, Clara, reported, “Ari is imprisoned within himself, trapped in his own body without a voice. I am his voice.”

It was because of Clara’s strong voice and dedication that the family learned of a facility in Panama that was known for successfully administering stem cell therapy to patients with autism. Clara and her husband, Danny, a graduate of Frisch and Rutgers University who grew up in Parsippany, were determined to get Ari to the Stem Cell Institute to receive that treatment.

Stem cell therapy is a process available to treat a variety of conditions, and has proven successful in the treatment of autism. Duke University is currently doing a study on this process, which does not yet have FDA approval. The Stem Cell Institute in Panama treats patient like Ari and, as the Goodmans are beginning to learn, the results can truly be miraculous.

However, with the procedure costing $15,000, with an additional $5,000 needed for airfare, food and hotel costs, the family feared there was no hope of ever getting Ari the therapy.

Clara proved herself again to be Ari’s champion when she reached out to The Jewish Link for assistance in getting the word out about the treatment the family sought. The Goodmans, residents of East Windsor, hoped that appealing to the greater Jewish community would enable them to raise at least some of the funding they needed. They started a GoFundMe page and gladly accepted any and all donations because, as Clara said, “What better than to invest in the future of a child?”

The fundraising campaign exceeded their wildest dreams, and in early May they were able to take Ari to Panama to receive his stem cell treatment. The doctors told them not to get their hopes up, and definitely not to look for or expect any changes for at least six months. “The doctor said that stem cell therapy is a slow process of healing from the inside. It is not the same as giving medicine, which works quickly,” said Clara.

To the Goodmans’ amazement and great joy, this past summer saw Ari take the first steps to “coming back to us. We started to see changes,” Clara noted. “He returned to imaginative play, which was where we lost him at 18 months. His school has noticed a difference. He is more able to engage. It’s like a light went on. He’s a different kid.”

Even his brothers—Moshe, 14, and Avi, 12—have seen a change in their younger brother. “He’s more engaged with the family now,” said Clara. “His brothers see that they can do more than just communicate with him using one- or two-word phrases. He understands.”

She continued, “The journey must continue. Before, we didn’t know whether it would work. We only had hope. Now we see the changes. He is coming out of his cell, or cage, or prison, each day a little more. How can we not pursue this further to allow him to reach the potential Hashem has set for him?”

The Goodmans are hoping to return to Panama with Ari for another round of treatment. The doctors have told them that each session can further a patient’s cognitive advances, though they make no promises as to Ari’s personal result. With the unbelievable progress they have seen since May, however, they feel that they have to try.

With emotion and passion, Clara stated, “I just love him so much and would do anything for him. What parent wouldn’t?”

Anyone wishing to make a tax deductible donation to assist the family in obtaining the stem cell treatment for Ari is requested to send a check to the Goodmans’ synagogue, Congregation Toras Emes, at 639 Abbington Drive, East Windsor, NJ 08520. Checks should be made payable to Congregation Toras Emes, with “for Ari Goodman” in the memo line. Contributions can also be made through Ari’s webpage at

Please direct any specific questions to Clara at [email protected]. She volunteers as a parent mentor for TACA (Talk About Curing Autism), an organization that helps connect parents of children with autism to proper medical and educational treatment. As a mother who once needed to make these very connections, she is ready and willing to pay it forward and welcomes all emails.

For more information on how stem cell therapy can benefit you or a loved one, please visit the Stem Cell Institute’s website at

The family wishes to thank everyone who has supported them in this journey, whether financially, emotionally or spiritually. They could not have done this without you.

By Jill Kirsch


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