Profiles in Courage – June 2016

We at the Lemonade Fund often see how cancer can devastate a family financially in no time. E., a 73 year old Russian immigrant, lives with her unmarried daughter in a small apartment in a development town in the south. Until E. was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer, the salary from the daughter’s factory job supported the two women. Subsequently, E.’s daughter lost so much time from work caring for her mother, accompanying her to doctor appointments and treatments, that the family slid into financial crisis. Despite assistance from Bituach Leumi, (National Health Insurance,) eviction was a possibility. The Lemonade Fund awarded E. a generous grant, and E. and her daughter can breathe again and turn their focus back to E. and her health. We are, as ever, grateful to all of our donors, who help us make this kind of assistance possible.

To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Profiles in Courage – May 2016

M. and her husband, a gentle couple in their mid-sixties, recently made aliyah from South America. Despite their limited Hebrew, they found jobs and were doing well. Within the last year, M.’s husband was laid off from his job and M. discovered a lump and was diagnosed with breast cancer. Due to the side effects of chemotherapy, M. cannot work and the couple is now living solely on M.’s husband’s unemployment benefits. They’ve slid from solvency to financial crisis and they are feeling desperate. The Lemonade Fund was created for just such situations – and a Lemonade Fund grant was awarded to help tide them over and alleviate M.’s financial stress so she can focus on getting well.

H. has had a hard life by any standards. Yet she is proud and not accustomed to asking for help. She is a widow, living alone in the center of the country, suffering from mental illness and now breast cancer. She was orphaned at the age of 5 and was subsequently raised by various adults who mistreated her. When she was 29, her husband was killed in a car accident, leaving her to raise her two young children alone. She continued to work and support herself even after a diagnosis of schizophrenia. She has helped her daughter, who was also diagnosed with cancer, as a young mother. H. lives in a dilapidated flat without an elevator and is now quite ill from her treatments. She needs help with shopping, cooking and cleaning while she is so weak, but she has no extra money. Her social worker urged her to apply to the Lemonade Fund, and we were happy to award H. a grant to pay for some extra help. We wish H. (and her daughter,) a full recovery.

To donate to the Lemonade Fund: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Thank you.

 

Profiles in Courage – April 2016

Even among the hardship cases at the Lemonade Fund, N.’s case stands out. N. is a divorced mother of five from the south. Her youngest son committed suicide during his army service. She has two severely mentally handicapped children. One daughter is a widow with four young children, and another child was taken in by a foster family when N. could no longer cope. The family has never had an easy time financially and when N. was first diagnosed with Stage 2 breast cancer in 2012, she was awarded a Lemonade Fund grant. This month we received a second application from N.’s social worker saying that N.’s breast cancer had returned and is now Stage 4. The Lemonade Fund gives one-time grants but sees recurrences as new disease as patients must undergo treatment again. N.’s widowed daughter tries to help her mother as much as she can, but she is struggling herself. Thanks to your contributions, the Lemonade Fund awarded N. a generous grant. This grant will help N. and her children. N.’s social worker reported that she called to tell N. that the Lemonade Fund was helping her again, and N. cried and said that this will be a good Passover holiday thanks to “Keren Limonana.”

To donate to the Lemonade Fund:

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Thank you very much!

Profiles in Courage – March 2016 (and a cool recipe)

G. and her husband, a couple in their mid 50’s, from northern Israel, were living an average Israeli life. Married, with 2 adult children, they were doing well until illness struck. Recently, G.’s husband was diagnosed with a psychiatric problem that rendered him unfit to work. As a result, G., developed stress-related disorders, such as diabetes and heart problems, followed by a breast cancer diagnosis. She is now getting chemotherapy and neither spouse can work. They are barely making ends meet on their disability benefits, and they’ve gone into debt. Their financial situation is causing both G. and her husband, enormous stress, and their case was referred to the Lemonade Fund by G.’s social worker. It is important to note that many of our grant recipients recover from their illnesses and go on to rebuild their lives, financially. The Lemonade Fund was created to help alleviate crushing economic pressure that can hit even formerly solvent families as a result of a breast cancer diagnosis. It is our privilege to help.

One of the ways we express joy and gratitude on the upcoming holiday of Purim is through ‘matanot l’evyonim,’ helping the poor. Please consider a donation to the Lemonade Fund as your ‘matana l’evyonim,’ this Purim. Thank you.

https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

(This month’s Profile is dedicated in memory of Vera Greenwald, a staunch supporter of the Lemonade Fund.)

Ingredients & Quantities

Hamentashen

  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) natural margarine, cut into 8 pieces
  • 1/2 cup (4 oz) shortening, cut into 8 pieces
  • 3 cups (13.5 oz, 380 g) flour
  • 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 1 cup (7.5 oz) sugar
  • 2 ounces almond paste, crumbled into small pieces
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 3/4 cup poppy seeds
  • 2 beaten eggs
  • 2-4 Tablespoons ice water
  • 1 egg + 1 Tablespoon water, lightly beaten
  • lemon curd for filling (see below for recipe)

Meyer Lemon Curd

  • grated zest of 4 meyer lemons
  • 3/4 cup fresh meyer lemon juice
  • 3 yolks and 3 whole eggs
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons cornstarch
  • 1 1/4 cup (9.5 oz) sugar
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons neutral vegetable oil
Lemon Poppyseed Hamentashen recipe

Preparation Instructions

Hamentashen

Pulse the flour, baking powder, salt, sugar, almond paste and lemon zest in the food processor until well combined. Add the poppy seeds and pulse to combine. Add the margarine and shortening and pulse until mixture resembles a coarse meal. Add the beaten eggs and pulse until combined.

Remove the mixture from the food processor and pour it into a large bowl. Sprinkle with two tablespoons of ice water and mix until it comes together into a ball. If the dough seems dry add the remaining water juice.

Divide the dough in half and roll each piece out between two sheets of lightly floured parchment paper. Stack the dough, with parchment attached, on a large cookie sheet and chill for at least 30 minutes, or until firm.

Remove dough from the refrigerator and cut into circles using a round cutter or the mouth of a drinking glass. Fill each circle with a small amount of filling. (For 2 inch circles use about a teaspoon of filling). Brush each circle with the egg wash and fold two sides together, pinching tight to make a corner. Fold up the remaining side to make a triangle with the filling showing in the middle and pinch the other two corners well. It is important that they are well pinched, so that they do not come open in the oven.

Bake at 350 until they are slightly firm to the touch, about 11 minutes.

Meyer Lemon Curd

Combine all the ingredients except oil in a saucepan. Whisk to combine. Cook, stirring constantly over medium-heat, until the curd thickens enough to coat the back of a spoon. Strain the mixture and stir in the oil. Place in the refrigerator to chill for 1-2 hours or until set. (Can be made up to 3 days ahead. Keep covered in the refrigerator.)

Profiles in Courage – February 2016

L. is a 39 year old divorcee, living in the center of the country with her 15 year old disabled daughter. L. came to Israel with her aunt in 1990 as part Operation Moses, the Ethiopian aliya. She worked as a dental nurse until 2011 when she was diagnosed with Stage 4 breast cancer. L. has been unable to work since then due to the side effects of strong chemotherapy treatments. She receives disability payments for herself and her daughter, however, this covers bare necessities. The Lemonade Fund awarded L. a grant to help her with additional non-medical expenses that accompany a serious illness.

H., 45, married and the mother of 3 children, ages 4, 18 and 21, had a nervous breakdown after she completed treatment for breast cancer last year. Her husband had been recovering from a stroke when she was diagnosed, and she became the primary breadwinner. As she was completing treatment, her husband was diagnosed with cancer. This was simply too much for H. and she went into a deep depression, unable to work or function. Help from extended family is unavailable and the care of the house and their younger sibling fell to the two older sisters. H. is slowly recovering, but the family is in dire financial straits following this crisis. The Lemonade Fund has stepped in to help this family get back on their feet.

The number of applications to the Lemonade Fund is increasing and we need your help. All donations are tax deductible. To Donate to the Lemonade Fund from Israel or abroad: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Thank you.

 

Larissa and the Kindness of Strangers

Larissa, 64, died on Tuesday. Though this is very sad, the last months of her life were made sweeter through the efforts of an extraordinary group of people; volunteers who had never met her before she became very ill. Here is her story and their story.

Larissa applied to the Lemonade Fund after she was diagnosed with a recurrence of breast cancer that had advanced to Stage 4. She was a former English teacher who had fallen on hard times. To make matters worse, she lived alone in an apartment with her adult son who is schizophrenic, and they were growing desperately poor. Larissa was awarded a Lemonade Fund grant to help tide her over while she was getting treatments.

The Lemonade Fund is based in Raanana, a sleepy northern suburb of Tel Aviv, and we work closely with the Meir Hospital Breast Center in neighboring Kfar Sava. On occasion, social workers from the Breast Center have alerted us to patients who are so ill that they can use assistance with meal preparation. We spread the word and in no time an amazing group of volunteers, from Raanana and Netanya sign up to deliver home-cooked meals to patients every Friday. Larissa was such a patient for several months.

Several weeks ago, Larissa’s social worker phoned to say that her health had deteriorated. She said that Larissa had little local family or social support and that it was getting increasingly difficult for her to shop and cook for herself. The social worker meekly asked if there was any way that the amazing group of volunteers could provide meals more often than once a week for her. The group was asked and within one hour (!) volunteers pledged to prepare meals every day.

It’s important to note that delivering meals to Larissa was no easy task. She lived in a third floor walk-up, in a building undergoing massive renovations. Getting to the apartment meant finding parking between cement mixers, navigating muddy paths to a hidden entrance and climbing the three dark flights to Larissa’s not very tidy sick room.

But once there, visitors were greeted to a tiny smiling sprite in bed with eyes that sparkled and genuine wit. She preferred English to Hebrew (a nice break for many of the immigrant Anglo-Saxon volunteers) and she seemed as happy with the visits as with the food delivery. (She appreciated day-old copies of the Jerusalem Post, to practice her English, until she got as fed up with current events as the rest of us.) After a time, as harsh chemotherapy treatments impacted her appetite, Larissa politely asked for increasingly simple foods, until broth was all she wanted. And blueberries. Which don’t grow in Israel. Larissa never lost hope, and she had read that blueberries could help her. Our intrepid volunteers didn’t let fruit unavailability deter them. Larissa got frozen blueberries almost daily in those last few weeks.

The amazing volunteers didn’t just deliver food. They looked around and decided that Larissa needed more help, and they cleaned, washed dishes, did laundry, changed her sheets, transported her to and from treatments, and on and on. When walking became difficult, Larissa asked if there was a way to get her a walker. Word went out to the amazing volunteers and within a day, several were offered. Someone picked one up and delivered it. Larissa smiled brightly, newly mobile.

Larissa was hospitalized on Sunday, moved to hospice on Thursday, and she died this past Tuesday. Amazing volunteers visited her in the hospital and in hospice, as if they were family. Children of a volunteer drew pictures for her. One of Larissa’s most fervent wishes was to be at home as long as possible in order to be near her son. She was at home until the last week of her illness. This clearly would have been impossible without the assistance of her ‘staff’ of amazing volunteers.

How often, in life, do we get to impact the life of another person, a stranger yet, in such a powerful way? Not a single volunteer ever asked for thanks or recognition. Nor did they ever ask about Larissa’s background, her religion, her marital status, her politics, etc. But it wouldn’t have mattered. What the amazing volunteers saw was another human in need, and the call was answered.

Words fail. Instead of seeking appreciation, the volunteers expressed gratitude for having had the opportunity to help. And they are correct that we are made better for giving, and we are richer for having known Larissa, a woman full of grace.

But just the same, thanks are in order. Thank You.

 

 

 

Profiles in Courage – November 2015

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F. is a 50 year old woman from central Israel who hasn’t had an easy life. For years, she’s been the family breadwinner as her husband is unemployed and her son is 100% disabled by schizophrenia. She cleaned offices, often working 13 hour days until recently, when she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Now, F. is unable to work while she is getting chemotherapy due to the side effects. She had suffered from depression, and the treatment, surgery and loss of hair have only increased her despondence. She is also under extreme financial pressure as her sick pay will soon run out and she and her family will have disability payments as their only source of income. A cushion to get through this difficult period can make all the difference and the Lemonade Fund awarded F. a grant. We wish her a speedy recovery.

To Donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

 

Profiles in Courage: September 2015

T., 51, has an unusual story. She was sent, against her will, by her family in Eastern Europe, to work in Israel as a foreign worker. When she arrived, T. discovered she was pregnant and refused an abortion (because of her religious beliefs) despite her family’s urging. She worked hard, raising her child alone, eventually falling in love with an Israeli citizen after divorcing her first husband. They had a child in addition to T.’s first child (now 16) and together this small family formed a new life together. In 2010, T. was treated for localized breast cancer and in 2014 it returned as stage 4 metastatic breast cancer. To make matters worse, her partner has become disabled due to a recent stroke. T.’s social worker applied to the Lemonade Fund and on T.’s behalf to help her during this time of financial crisis brought about by serious illness. An award was granted and we wish T. and her family a speedy recovery.

The Lemonade Fund wants to thank all of you who donated during our urgent appeal last month. The amount of applications to the Lemonade Fund is growing and we thanks to you we have been able to finance more grants. Thank you for continuing to help us help disadvantaged Israeli breast cancer patients.

To Donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/

Lemonade Fund Requesting Emergency Aid for the New Year

  1. N., 34 years old, diagnosed with advanced breast cancer while pregnant with her third child. N. gave birth, but has been and will be hospitalized for while. Husband needs to hire a mitapelet (babysitter) to help him care for the infant and other two children so that he can work. Extended family and husband have used up all of their work vacation days and extra funds. N.’s Social Worker is appealing to the Lemonade Fund to help this family.
  2. K., 42, is a divorced mother of three children, a victim of domestic violence. Despite this, she had worked hard in the last few years since leaving her husband, to start a new life. She took out a loan to go back to school, but was then diagnosed with breast cancer and couldn’t work or stay in school through the treatments. She is the sole support for herself and her children and is now in severe financial distress. The Lemonade Fund will help her get through this difficult period.
  3. A., 32 years old, lives in a large village in the Galil, far from the hospital where she is being treated for stage 4 breast cancer. In addition, her young son was recently diagnosed with leukemia and he is being treated in a separate hospital. Though her husband and family are very supportive, the travel costs for her treatments are significant. The formerly solvent family is being pushed to the limit by the auxilliary costs of these serious illnesses. A.’s Social Worker submitted an application to the Lemonade Fund for help with transporation costs, NIS 2500.

Three examples of current need at the Lemonade Fund. Many others as well. All donations are tax deductible, in Israel or the US. Thank you.

http://www.esra.org.il/lemonade-fund-donation-form

Five Years

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(Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, 1630, Rembrandt van Rijn)

FIVE YEARS…

Five years ago, on July 20, 2010, which coincided with the 9th day of the Hebrew month of Av, the saddest day in the Jewish calendar, I was diagnosed with breast cancer. The day of fasting to remember collective tragedy became the anniversary of the day my life changed forever as well. My personal feelings of desolation and destruction mirrored the words of the scroll of Lamentations, read on Tisha B’Av,

“Your ruin is as vast as the sea; who can heal you?” (Jeremiah, 2:13)

At the time, my ruin felt as vast as the sea. And yet…here I am. Five years renders no guarantee, and none of us, not those of us who’ve traversed the fields of illness nor those who’ve been left unscathed, know the future. But five years is five years. Years of raising children to adulthood, of love and of professional and personal fulfillment. Five very full years during which time I’ve healed, and witnessed much growth and happiness. Reconstruction borne out of destruction, for which I am ever grateful.

In another fine twist of fate, I’m privileged to reach my fifth year of health during a Sabbatical, a Shmitta year, here in Israel, also a message of healing. The Sabbatical year is agricultural in practice (land must lie fallow once every seven years, to replenish itself,) but the philosophy is one of social justice. Land is deemed ownerless, debts are forgiven and everyone partakes freely of the bounty of the land. We are all only borrowers of the land, and once every seven years we relinquish control and all stand together, as equals. The medieval scholar, Maimonides, writes that the commandments of the Sabbatical year are ‘meant to lead to pity and promoting the well-being of all men, as the Torah states, “That the poor of your people may eat.” (Shemot 23:11)

One of the highlights of these last five years has been the creation and growth of the Lemonade Fund, www.lemonadefund.org, the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund. In less than four years, the Lemonade Fund has helped many impoverished Israeli breast cancer patients with emergency financial aid during their illness.

The world has rarely seemed so perilous from the outside. This Tisha B’Av, talk of complete destruction (the nuclear kind) is up close and personal here in Israel. Antisemitism is epidemic throughout the world. Yet Talmudic sources claim that the cause of the downfall of Jerusalem, and all subsequent tragedies, came from within. We were not caring, even worse, we were hateful to one another. We followed the letter of the law but we cared not for justice, fairness or kindness.

The joint lessons of Tisha B’Av and the Sabbatical year are that we must be worthy of this national home we are fortunate to have after 2000 years of exile. We must work to maintain a society that is just and kind. To be inclusive rather than rejecting; reaching out to others who are different than us. To listen. To be patient. To be kind. To help those who are more unfortunate in a way that preserves their dignity. To be concerned about the welfare of those living within our borders. To reduce socioeconomic disparity. To avoid humiliating others, to avoid senseless hatred. …There are limitless ways to build a better world.

Just as the body can heal, societies can be repaired. Jeremiah rings hopeful at the end.

“I will bring them back to this place and cause them to live in safety. They will be my people and I will be their God. I will give them one heart and one path, that they may always honor Me, and that all may go well with them and their children after them. I will make an everlasting covenant with them: I will never stop doing them good, and I will inspire them to be in awe of Me, never turning away from Me. I will rejoice in doing good for them; and will assuredly plant them in this land with all My heart and soul.” (Jeremiah, 32:37-41)
Wishing you all an easy fast and many years of health and happiness.

Shari

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