May 20, 2024
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Voting for a Van; Fundraising for a Home Makeover

Just because the voting is coming to a close on Monday, May 31, the fundraising for Esther Herzfeld’s four Muscular Dystrophy-stricken children is just picking up steam.

The Herzfelds were approaching 67,000 votes earlier this week as part of the National Mobility Equipment Dealer’s Association (NMEDA) Local Heroes Contest. The contest is an important part of the organization’s fourth annual National Mobility Awareness Month. The top four individuals or families with the largest number of online votes will be awarded custom vans modified for their specific needs.

Esther Herzfeld, a master teacher at Ma’ayanot Yeshiva High School, is the mother four children afflicted with Muscular Dystrophy. The children include Rivka, 23; Tziporah, 21; Tzvi, 18 and Racheli, 15.

The link for voting is http://www.mobilityawarenessmonth.com/entrant/esther-herzfeld-teaneck-nj/#.VUob_kLr6rI.facebook.

The fundraising link is https://www.crowdrise.com/HerzfeldExtremeHomeMakeover/fundraiser/avivarosenfeld.

Besides the van, supporters are hoping to raise funds to help provide the Herzfeld home with a makeover, adapting and modifying the house to the mobility and needs of the four siblings.

“We are very, very hopeful,” said Pam Ennis, director of communications for Ma’ayanot. “I think the focus here is that something beautiful has come out of this. A lot of people have found ways to help in addition to voting.”

The Herzfeld story went “viral” online. Indeed, Ennis said that those involved in the voting aren’t necessarily pushing the vote any longer. It’s not necessary; the vote is pushing itself.

“Mrs. Herzfeld has taught about 3,000 or more students,” said Ennis. “And those students are coming out of the woodwork to help. But it’s coming from everywhere.”

Everywhere ranges from the non-religious Jewish community, outside of the Jewish community and the Haredi community, according to Ennis.

The fundraising on crowdrise.com has the backing of the Bergen County United Way so that contributions are tax deductible. Donors and voters can connect using social media such as Facebook and Twiiter. There are links for Ma’ayanot alumnae and other supporters. Also, Ennis said that donors who want to donate privately are also stepping forward.

“The family needs these renovations to their home,” said Ennis. “It’s currently not built as handicapped accessible. “Some alterations have been made so it is livable, but as the children get less and less mobile, work needs to be done particularly in the bathrooms. They need to be remodeled in such a way as to accommodate the children better. A great deal of retrofitting needs to be done.”

It was Ma’ayanot that started the voting drive by putting it on its Facebook page.

“It was crazy how it exploded,” Ennis recounted. “It turned into one of our most popular posts ever. Local newspapers wrote about it. People from the Modern Orthodox world to the Haredim and the Yiddish speaking world voted.

Ennis said that the school probably won’t know for sure if the Herzfelds were one of the four winners on May 31.

“The organizers look at the top vote getters, and they have some discretion over who gets the actual vans.

People are also reaching out to help make the house safer and livable. “Also, there are therapies and medical expenses that aren’t covered by insurance. The needs of the family are vast.”

Ennis also urged donors who want to give privately or anonymously to contact Congregation Beth Aaron’s mara d’asra Rabbi Larry Rothwachs. The shul’s phone number is 201-836-6210.

By Phil Jacobs

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