The first day of Breast Cancer Awareness Month, October 1, coincides with the last day of the cycle of Jewish holidays this year, (the Jewish New Year, Yom Kippur and the festival of Sukkot.) There is a connection here that is worth noting.
It is customary to read the book of Ecclesiastes, Solomon’s deeply philosophical and personal tome, on Sukkot. King Solomon is writing at the end of his life, about what, after a lifetime of wealth and fame, really matters.
“Send your bread upon the waters, for after many days, you will find it.”
This verse is understood as a an urging to give charity to strangers, those whom one might never meet. The generosity will be repaid, the giver rewarded.
The cycle of Jewish holidays ends a period of reflection and judgement. Next week we will all return to our routines and officially begin our year. It is important to realize what gift NORMALCY is.
Breast cancer patients who are in treatment and in financial crisis don’t have this privilege; they are in the midst of a fight for survival. We created the Lemonade Fund, Israel’s one and only Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, to give one-time grants to the most indigent breast cancer patients, to help with:
- lost income due to treatments and dr visits.
- extra childcare or household help
- transportation cost assistance
- emergency financial assistance while awaiting national benefits.
To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/
The Lemonade Fund sends final wishes for a good new year. At the same time we urge all women (and men at risk, 1% of breast cancers occur in men!) to schedule their yearly breast screening.
Each year, at about this time, I come here to write a more personal note. On Tuesday, July 31st, Tisha B’Av, the Fast of the Ninth of the Hebrew month of Av, I’ll mark seven years since I was diagnosed with breast cancer. Seven years!
I’ve changed in the seven years, since I heard the words, ‘you’ve got cancer.’ I enjoy numbers and the number “7” reminds me of the book of Genesis. In a way, recovering from cancer parallels the seven days of creation.
In the beginning… there is terror, an explosion of fear. Silence and complete blackness. One is deaf and blind to all but the question of a future. Will I survive? Is this the end? There is nothing but emptiness and a deep void. All is chaos. All is darkness.
And then the next day hope takes hold in a crevice. There is a dim sliver of light in the fissure that has formed. Darkness still reigns and nights are long and hard, but they are shooed away by the dawn, by morning. And one can begin to see the separation between darkness and light. Positivity is encapsulated in a sunrise. One reaches beyond the darkness, toward hope.
Once there is light, the earth appears beneath one’s feet. One can stand again; footing regained. Slowly there is clarity. The sky is above, the earth and water are below. And with new focus there appears a plan for moving forward, one step at a time. A method for walking the earth once again. The course is rough at times, but with the ability to stand comes healing and recovery. Family, friends and community accompany and offer support along the way. And God is there, always there.
Even then it takes a while to learn to breathe. To believe that life is normal again. Only it isn’t normal and it never will be as it was, before cancer. There is what others call a ‘new normal.’ There are scars, painful scars, but also an awakened strength and elegance. Everything is different because the stars, the moon, the sun never looked quite so exquisite as now. Life itself sparkles because our eyes have been reopened, wider this time. Nature, the greenery, the creatures that crawl, fly, swim and walk are so very beautiful as if we have all been born anew.
And then the next few days fly by and here we are at seven, a full week of years. Over the years work is rewarding and the bonds of friendship and love tighten. Children mature, graduate, finish the army, graduate again, get jobs, get married. Families grow up and there is plenty of joy in all of this creation. New possibilities, opportunities, loves and beginnings. Life is bittersweet, too. Older grandparents pass away. Though very sad, this is the natural course of life. Wars are fought, too, young people are killed, on the battlefield, in the streets, in their homes. A twist of fate that is not in accordance with nature. Health is precarious at times; there are scans and scares. Last year I mourned the death of my mother, and this year we are celebrating the marriage of a child. Life is a complicated cycle, life is rich, but overall it is very good and we are here. Years of plenty.
I was diagnosed with breast cancer on the solemn fast of Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year. I never saw this as a coincidence, choosing instead to hear the whisper of what was being conveyed to me. In the midst of fasting and mourning for the destruction of Jerusalem and the other Jewish tragedies that occurred on 9 Av, I was suddenly contemplating my own demise. Why such sad news on the most desperate of days?
Over the course of the first year post-diagnosis, the connection became came clear to me. On the Ninth of Av, we study the causes of national defeat and try to learn from history so as not to repeat mistakes. Sages say that the primary cause of the calamities on Tisha B’Av were from internal strife, not outside enemies. We were wretched to each other in business dealings, in politics, in social settings and in private relationships. We lost our holiness, our health as a nation. We became sick and ugly until it all fell apart.
When illness strikes, our bodies give out. We cannot always pinpoint causes, but we suddenly turn our attention to caring for the vessel in which we live, as never before. As we contemplate mortality, we learn to value what is important, things that we may have neglected in our busy day-to-day lives.
Upon recovery, our mission can be to understand what leads to devastation, whether as a nation or in one’s body. In both cases, for real recovery and reconstruction, compassion is needed. We need to work to SEE the other, and to reach out to them. As a nation when we are tolerant of each other, we are united and strong.
Likewise, when people are ill they are weak and in need of support. The most fragile among us cannot help themselves and it is our duty to help them. With medical, communal or financial help, we gift them the fortitude to get treatment and heal.
Having breast cancer showed me how expensive it is to be seriously ill. The ESRA Lemonade Fund (the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund,) was founded in 2011 in order to help indigent breast cancer patients with basic non-medical expenses. The ESRA Lemonade Fund, a registered charity, gives one-time emergency grants to needy Israeli breast cancer patients, in treatment, so they can focus on recovery. (Though this letter is not intended to be a fundraising appeal, contact us to donate, apply for help, or volunteer: www.lemonadefund.org )
One story: A recent applicant, A., 35, is a former make-up artist and model. She has 3 children and Stage 4 breast cancer which has spread to her brain. Her husband quit his day job and is delivering newspapers at night so that he can care for his wife during the day. The family is living on the mother’s disability payments and the father’s meager salary. The Lemonade Fund awarded them an emergency financial grant. In addition, a group of amazing LF volunteers are delivering home-cooked meals to the family several times a week.
This is a small step toward tikun olam, repairing the world. Just as bodies can heal, societies can be bettered through acts of kindness. Tisha B’Av is a great opportunity for all of us to go from mourning destruction, to rebuilding connections through compassion.
“You have turned my sorrow into dancing. You have removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, so that my soul may sing to you and not be silent. My God forever will I thank you.”
I am ever grateful for years of plenty, full of life and learning. Wishing all of you an easy and meaningful fast, and many years of peace, health and happiness.
Memorial Day in Israel (beginning at sundown tonight, April 30th,) is a somber time that is almost universally observed. Most people know someone who has been touched by loss in this young, small country. Businesses will shut their doors tonight, and a siren will sound throughout the land at 8:00 PM, during which all traffic will stop and people will stand still, heads bowed, at attention. The wail of the siren reaches down deep, sounding like a visceral cry. In this Jewish country it brings to mind the shofar, the ram’s horn, that is blown on the holiest of days. The shofar is meant to focus our thoughts and the siren does the same in a unique, simultaneous, national way. In our unity, honor is paid to those who have lost their lives, on the battlefield of war or in an act of terror.
We at the Lemonade Fund are currently helping several women who are battling breast cancer while their children are serving in the Israeli Defense Forces (IDF.) In Z.’s family, Z’s son, a soldier in an elite unit, is our only family contact, as his mother is too ill to speak or provide information. He calls us during his breaks and we are touched by his dedication to his mother. We often are in touch with families who are juggling army service and a difficult home life. A., a divorcee in her mid-forties has end-stage breast cancer and is in hospice. Her daughter is in the army, with special conditions. Our assistance gives A. and her daughter peace of mind. Recently we gave a grant to a woman whose son had been badly injured in a terror attack in the 1980’s. The stress of caring for him for many years led to her precarious financial situation and poor health. A Lemonade Fund grant helped stabilize her family while she underwent chemotherapy.
By helping breast cancer patients who are in financial distress, we are helping their families as well. We are grateful for your donations, allowing us to contribute to the support of our country’s soldiers and their families.
May we all merit peace and good health.
To donate to the Lemonade Fund:
On July 20, 2010, my life was turned upside down by a diagnosis, out of the blue, of breast cancer. I will never forget the feeling of complete devastation upon hearing the news that day. I had been fasting, as it was Tisha B’Av, the ninth day of the Hebrew month of Av. A day of mourning, 9 Av is the saddest day of the Jewish year, marking the destruction of Jerusalem (twice,) as well as other calamities (pogroms, expulsions, wars, etc.) that have befallen Jews throughout history, on this date. Collective sadness became deeply personal as I suddenly faced my own mortality.
As Tisha B’Av approaches this year (Sunday, August 14, beginning at sundown the night before,) I am grateful to be celebrating six years of health since that fateful day. Another year of watching children become adults, of love and personal and professional fulfillment. Another year (our fifth anniversary!) of turning lemons into lemonade at the Lemonade Fund, https://lemonadefund.org/movie-what-the-lemonade-fund-does/, providing grants to Israeli breast cancer patients who are in financial crisis. Nothing but pure gratitude for the gift of life and the ability to move forward.
It is easy to see the parallel between recovery from a serious illness and the fast of Tisha B’Av. How do we as a people rebuild, and even improve, after near total destruction? Every year I now feel graced to find a message of hope on this saddest of days. It comes this year care of my mother, Vera Greenwald, z.l.
My mother died suddenly of a massive stroke, in February, at the age of 78, at the height of her career, and if ever there was a tale of rising from the ashes, it was hers. Her life story is one of miracles, survival and rebirth.
My mother was born in Presov, a city in eastern Czechoslovakia that had an active Jewish community of about 8000. Once the war began, her parents had the foresight to begin to run early on, while many were sitting tight. While they were waiting for false papers, my grandmother had a way of hiding in plain sight. It was known that the Nazis worked on a schedule, that they had specific hours when they’d enter the city to round up Jews. My grandmother would take my mother early each morning to Kosice, the next town, and they’d wait in the high reeds by the river all day, only to return each evening after the Nazis had left.
Once this became untenable, they began to run in earnest. One time, while hiding in the house of a righteous Gentile, my very young mother was told to keep completely silent for hours, beneath a pile of potatoes, while the Nazi’s banged their guns and shouted, hunting for Jews. My mother has a memory of clasping her hands together, and promising God over and over again, that if she survived, she would even eat barley soup that she despised.
Eventually hiding in houses became too dangerous and there was no where to go but into hiding in the forests, where my mother and her parents lived with a small group of Jews. They lived in primitive wooden bunkers, 12 people in one, and 17 in the other. Many times they were near death from starvation, living on nothing but rose hips, or foraged greens boiled in melted snow, only to find food one way or another. Many times they couldn’t light fires for fear of the smoke being seen, and it is a miracle that they didn’t freeze to death in the winter months.
Another time, a Russian soldier warned them to disperse, to flee, moments before the Nazis came and found their bunker and razed it to the ground. My mother and her parents hid behind one tree, silently, for a long time, in the bitter cold, while the Nazi’s scoured the woods. They watched as other families were found, just meters away from where they hid. Yet in daylight, in a winter forest with no leaves, they were not caught. My grandmother told of the family scurrying up a sheer ice-covered cliff, at night. She remembered that they all had bloody knees by the time they reached the top. She said that she never knew how they were able to climb that mountain, in the cold and dark. My mother was a very young child at the time.
Somehow those who survived this attack, rebuilt the bunkers, much deeper in the woods. My mother remembers Passover seders in the bunker. My grandfather kept track of the calendar with a match on the wall and recited the Haggadah, the Passover story, by heart. As the end of the war was nearing this small band of Jews were so close to starvation that they decided to risk their lives to venture to the nearest village to get food. They had one valuable watch remaining, to use as a bribe. At the last moment my grandfather and the other men were given a sign that they were falling into a trap and they turned back. Days later they were liberated.
Their family was almost completely wiped out and there was no home to which to return. Very few Slovakian Jewish children survived the war. In post-war Prague, where my mother and her parents lived for two years after the war, no one believed my mother’s story of survival. They said it was impossible, that no children her age survived. She would tell them that she was saved by a miracle.
In the years that followed, my mother and her parents were fortunate to build a new life, near my grandfather’s sister, in America. In 1959, my mother met the man of her dreams, my father, and thus began a love affair that was to last 53 years, until my father passed away. They had children, grandchildren and careers. My mother was a brilliant businesswoman, working until the day she died. She was dazzling and a bundle of energy. She was also loving, kind and charitable. In her last years, as the number of Holocaust survivors dwindled, she took it upon herself to speak to groups of young people at public schools about her wartime experiences. She began each talk with this sentence,
“YOU ARE STRONGER THAN YOU THINK.”
The Talmud (Rosh Hashannah, 18B,) states that, “at a time when there is peace, they (the fast days) shall be transformed into days of joy and happiness.” In honor of the memory of my wonderful mother, Vera Greenwald, z.l., let us try harder than ever this Tisha B’Av to work on reconstruction. On building a society that is more cohesive, unified and at peace. One that is just and kind. That is inclusive rather than rejecting; one that reaches out to others who are different than us. Let us help those who are more unfortunate in a way that preserves their dignity. Let us be concerned about the welfare of those living within our borders. Let us avoid senseless hatred. In deference to those who survived and rebuilt their lives, let us heal the rifts that divide us. We are stronger than we think. Just as the body can heal, societies, too, can be repaired.
In honor of our parents, my brothers, Joel and Daniel Greenwald, and I, are inaugurating the Martin and Vera Greenwald Memorial Lemonade Fund. Throughout their lives our parents were charitable to those in need and showed deep compassion for those who were ill. And they loved Israel. After it was founded, in 2011, our parents were proud supporters of the Lemonade Fund. Though they never had breast cancer, they had a daughter who had had it, and they saw the anguish that accompanies the disease. They were sensitive to the need for an Israeli emergency financial relief fund for indigent Israeli breast cancer patients.
To donate to the Lemonade Fund:
Wishing everyone an easy fast and years of good health and peace.
(Jeremiah Lamenting the Destruction of Jerusalem, 1630, Rembrandt van Rijn)
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.
The Lemonade Fund is deeply saddened to report the passing of our wonderful friend and supporter, Etana Gordon Friedman, Etana Sara bat Hadassah. As a breast cancer patient herself, Etana helped the Lemonade fund assist impoverished Israeli breast cancer patients. She seemed to always be thinking of others, first her loved ones, and then those who were less fortunate. We send our love and support to her family during this difficult time. Baruch dayan emet. This photo was taken at a concert that Etana’s marvelous children created and performed in, as a ‘segula’ for healing. Admission was charged so that all monies could be donated to two charities that were dear to Etana. One was a local Petach Tikvah soup kitchen and the other was the Lemonade Fund. Substantial funds were raised and we honored Etana’s request that all monies donated from this event be earmarked for widows and orphans. Etana was an inspiration and we honor her memory.
The Lemonade Fund just passed the 3 year mark!
To date, 259,000 shekels in grants have been given to Israeli breast cancer patients, 113 women and 1 man, who are in financial crisis due to the their illness.
One of our most recent grants went to H., a 57 year old woman from central Israel who was recently diagnosed with advanced breast cancer. Having survived thyroid cancer a year earlier, H. had just returned to her job as a caretaker at a nursing home. During the same period, her husband was forced to declare bankruptcy. H. is currently going through chemotherapy treatment and is also, understandably, suffering from anxiety and depression. H. and her husband have no source of income during this difficult time and we received an application on her behalf from her hospital social worker. The grant was delivered in time for the holiday season and we wish H. well. (With your donations, we can help patients like H. For more profiles, see, http://www.lemonadefund.org/profiles.)
During this time of year, we are focused on capturing God’s ear. The sound of the shofar is an ancient call, like a cry, without words. It is worth mentioning the simplest, most heart-felt prayer ever recorded. Five words, cried out by Moses, when his sister became ill. “Kayl, na, refa na lah.” “Please God, please heal her.”
The raw nakedness of this request to God can teach us much about prayer. At it’s most powerful, it is direct and straight from the heart. Yom Kippur can be a time of deep introspection when this kind of connection is possible.
We can also see how a serious illness shakes man to his core. On Yom Kippur, when most of us are praying earnestly for an upcoming year of blessings, very sick people beseech God for survival and recovery. I remember the first Yom Kippur after diagnosis as being one of intense gratitude as well as a humble new understanding of exactly what it means to pray for and be granted life.
Yom Kippur is all about effecting change and bettering oneself. One of the proscribed Jewish ways to improve ourselves is to help those around us by giving charity. The Lemonade Fund is a simple charity with very little overhead. It assists breast cancer patients financially while they are in active treatment so they can concentrate on getting well. No one should have to be indigent and seriously ill at the same time, as long as we can help it. http://www.lemonadefund.org/about
Please consider a donation to the Lemonade Fund. To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/
We would like to thank the Young Israel of West Hempstead, West Hempstead, NY, and their Combined Israel Appeal for their generous support of the Lemonade Fund. Their grant will help us help many patients.
Finally, (it’s been a while) a lemon recipe for the break fast. Wishing everyone a meaningful Yom Kippur and a sweet, healthy and peaceful New Year.
Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund (IBCERF)
Herzliya 46104, ISRAEL
to apply for assistance: Contact Anat at ESRA 09-950-8371
to donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/
facebook page: https://www.facebook.com/lemonadefund
Lemon Yoghurt Cupcakes
Here is a delicious and healthy lemon cake recipe.
Traditional lemon yoghurt cakes are loaded with refined white flour, sugar and saturated fat that really don’t do much to promote wellbeing. When I cook, my aim is to design a recipe not only for taste, but also for good health.
I’ve made these cupcakes using almonds to replace the white flour because it makes them so moist and naturally sweet as well as being gluten free. Almonds are also loaded with protein + good anti-inflamatory fats that help promote health. Eggs are also a great source of protein that can promote a healthy immune system. The addition of lemon + yoghurt gives these cupcakes a wonderful flavour and helps to activate the bicarb, that makes them rise.
3 cups (300 g / 10 1/2 oz) ground almonds / almond meal / almond flour
½ teaspoon baking soda – bi carb soda
2 free range or organic eggs
juice and zest from 1 lemon
½ cup (180 g / 6 1/4 oz) honey
1 teaspoon vanilla bean paste or extract
50 g macadamia nut oil or (olive oil, avocado oil, cold pressed coconut oil, butter)
¼ cup (80 g/ 2 3/4 oz) thick natural or Greek style yoghurt
Preheat your oven to 160 C. 320 F fan forced.
Combine almond meal + baking soda.
Add eggs, lemon juice + zest, honey, vanilla, oil and yoghurt.
Spoon into prepared cupcake tins.
Bake for 30 minutes or until golden and cooked through.
Remove from the oven and cool completely.
“God, you have drawn me up and not let my enemies rejoice over me. My God, I cried out to you and you healed me.” (Psalm 30)
It would be easy to be depressed about what has been happening in Israel lately. We are being attacked, within our borders, and we are doing our best to defend ourselves. In truth, there have been losses of many bright young men in the prime of their lives, or of innocent civilians, and the cry of mourners can be heard in almost every corner of our land, of our region. We are facing formidable foes, and though we are united in our resolve and strong in military might, it is human nature to be fearful and sad.
We at the Lemonade Fund deal with assisting people who are seriously ill. Those who are diagnosed with a life-threatening illness face the personal battle of their lives. They succumb to hopelessness at times, and fear is their steady companion.
How, then, do we find hope during times of such profound worry and sadness? The Ninth of Av, the saddest day of the Jewish year, begins tonight, and the meaning of the day lends a clue to finding solace during hard times. Tisha B’Av commemorates one Jewish tragedy after another, each one could have threatened future Jewish sustainability. Yet, through it all, we as a people have survived. It is said that baseless hatred between Jews, between brothers, brought about these periods of destruction. More likely, it was a lack of kindness, consideration and tolerance that caused us to work against one another. We are powerful when we come together, as the current situation in Israel has shown. As a nation, we are experiencing unity as never before, and there are immense national and spiritual benefits to this. Our enemies haven’t rejoiced over us.
If this terrible war can help us to learn about the benefits of unity and we can continue to act with kindness and tolerance toward one another, something good will have come out of all of this.
As we did at the same time last year we at the Lemonade Fund ask that you take on simple acts of goodness. (The Lemonade Fund was founded during the week of Tisha B’Av and this week we mark our 3 year anniversary.) Our particular focus is illness. Most of the breast cancer patients who have received Lemonade Fund grants are desperately ill. The poor often don’t get medical help until disease is advanced. Many are young and single parents. Children are impacted. Many of our recipients are from communities in the south that have been particularly hard hit during Operation Protective Edge.
Please take a moment tonight and tomorrow to have these patients in mind. If it is your way, please pray for them. (You can read many of their stories on the website, http://www.lemonadefund.org/profiles.) Volunteer at the Lemonade Fund; we welcome all volunteers. Or reach out to someone you may know who is ill. Call them, text them, visit them, connect with their caregivers and offer support. Reach out to a stranger who is needy or lonely. Just Reach Out.
May this day go from being a day of mourning to a day of celebration. May we all stay safe and see peace soon.
Thanks, the Lemonade Fund.
Though the Lemonade Fund, www.lemonadefund.org, would never turn away donations, today I am personally asking for something other than money.
Three years ago this week, in July 2010, specifically on the Jewish day of Tisha B’Av, I received the news that I had breast cancer. The year that followed was difficult, but I had excellent medical care, faith and support, and I am happy to say that I felt fine by the following Tisha B’Av.
As they say, when life gives you lemons, make lemonade. A serious illness is terrifying, and one can focus on little beyond survival. During that initial year I was also struck by how costly it was to be sick and I became concerned about patients who were dealing with breast cancer and poverty at the same time. Thus, exactly one year later, in August 2011, on erev Tisha B’Av, the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, aka, the Lemonade Fund, was born. Since then, the Lemonade Fund has given one-time grants to many needy Israeli breast cancer patients, to help alleviate financial pressure while they are undergoing treatment.
While I am heartened that we can help these patients financially, there is another way I would like to ask for your help. Tisha B’Av, the saddest day of the Jewish calendar, begins tomorrow evening. The fractious nature of Jewish society is often blamed for the historic tragedies that befell us on this day, and we hear many calls for Jewish unity at this time of year. Great idea, but how do we implement ‘tikun olam’ (repairing the world) at a grass-roots level? How do we begin?
Personally. One to one.
At the Lemonade Fund, our focus is illness. Most of the women (though men can get breast cancer, all of our grantees to date have been women) who have received Lemonade Fund grants are desperately ill. The poor often don’t get medical help until disease is advanced. Many are young and single parents. Children are impacted.
Please take a moment on Monday night/Tuesday to have these women in mind. If it is your way, please pray for them. (You can read many of their stories on the website.) Volunteer at the Lemonade Fund; we welcome all volunteers. Or reach out to someone you may know who is ill. Call them, text them, visit them, connect with their caregivers and offer support. Pray for them.
That’s all. Thank you.
With collective acts of good, we can become closer and turn this day of destruction into a day of happiness and reconstruction. Petty hatred is incompatible with compassion. Illness knows no boundaries; enemies share hospital rooms and heal together. I have had the good fortune, thank God, to see this date, Tisha B’Av, transformed into an anniversary of recovery, of hope. May we all merit to continue in this direction, together.