A huge thank you to a young woman who did an exceptional thing recently for the staff and patients at the Meir Hospital Breast Center in Kfar Sava, Israel. Jennie Kaufmann, 12, from Raanana, Israel, took on a Chesed project in honor of her Bat Mitzvah which was straight from her heart. Jennie has a talent for making all kinds of soaps and beauty products that are gorgeous and all natural. (This hobby is turning into a fledgling business. I plan to be one of her best customers…let me know if you want in…) She also designs lovely gift baskets.
Jennie heard about the Lemonade Fund (www.lemonadefund.org) and decided that she wanted Lemonade Fund grant recipients, or any other woman newly diagnosed with breast cancer, to receive her gift baskets. Together with her mother and sister, she met with Dr. Amalia Magen, Dr. Tzvi Koyfman, and others from the staff at the Meir Hospital Breast Center. In addition to learning a bit about the current state of breast cancer diagnosis and treatment, she delighted the staff with her personality and her beautiful gifts. She will surely brighten the days of those women coming in for dreary doctors appointments. How dark and fearful those early days can be! How lovely to leave with a surprise gift that shows such care and thoughtfulness. I understand from her Mom that Jennie also decided to donate a portion of her Bat Mitzvah gift money to the Lemonade Fund.
It is refreshing to hear about a young girl who intrinsically understands that a Bat Mitzvah is about something larger than herself. Jennie seems to get that coming of age means being part of the wider human community where we all responsible for one another. Many thanks, Jennie.
Apples, Honey and Lemons…
In last week’s Torah portion, which is always read in the period leading up to the High Holidays, we read about the practice of tithing produce in the land of Israel. The Torah says, ‘Then you shall say before Hashem, your God, …’I have also given to the Levite, to the stranger, to the orphan and to the widow, according to whatever commandment you commanded me. …and I have not forgotten.’…Gaze down from your holy abode, from the heavens, and bless your people Israel, and the ground that you gave us, as you swore to our forefathers, a Land flowing with milk and honey.’
Exactly one year ago, the first grants from the Lemonade Fund (IBCERF) were given, right before Rosh Hashana. Since then, in the very first year of its existence, the Lemonade Fund has given grants ranging from NIS 1500 to NIS 4000, to more than 30 Israeli women (of all religions and nationalities) suffering from serious disease, who are also in severe financial distress. I hope we’ve made a difference, by lightening their load during this very difficult time. In reviewing their applications, I’ve learned about these women, and they are often the kind of people who become marginal in society, who are easily forgotten. (Read more about this in their own words, at http://www.lemonadefund.org.) But we have not forgotten them.
Now, as we again approach Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur, during this season of introspection, we can all find things to improve in ourselves. However, we can stand before God and humbly say that in at least this, in regards to this weaker segment of our people, ‘we have not forgotten.’
May God look down on all of us and bless his people Israel, and our land, for a sweet, healthy, peaceful new year.
Shana Tova, Happy New Year, Shari
IBCERF (Lemonade Fund): www.Lemonadefund.org
1. To volunteer or if you know someone who needs to apply for assistance: Send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
2. To donate: http://esra.org.il/donations-esra
(Be sure to note on the internet or via regular mail, that your donation is for the IBCERF.) Many thanks to those of you who have already donated.
Below, a recipe with apples and honey and…lemons! Enjoy!
Apple Lemon Cake with Honey Glaze
• 3 medium apples
• 3 cups flour
• 1/2 cup oil
• 1 cup chopped pecans
• 2 cups sugar
• 1 cup butter/margerine melted
• 1 tsp baking soda
• 1 medium lemon
• 1 tsp baking powder
• 2 eggs
• 1 cup powder sugar
• 2 Tbs butter/margerine softened
• 1 tsp grated lemon zest
• 1 Tbs honey
• 3 Tbs lemon juice
Peel, core and chop apples, grate lemon zest set aside but squeeze juice on apples, set aside. Pour butter into mixing bowl and beat in eggs. Beat in sugar and 3 tsp of lemon zest. Sift dry ingredients and mix into batter. Fold in apples and nuts. Pour into a greased and floured tube pan. Bake in a 350F oven for 1 hour and 20 minutes or tested and done. Cool in pan 10 minutes. Turn onto wire rack. Prick holes in the top of the cake. Mix glaze ingredients and spread over warm cake.
Profiles of Two Brave Women Who Received IBCERF (Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund) Grants this Month, August 2012.
N., a Russian-Jewish immigrant from the Sharon area, with 5 children, youngest of whom are 1 year old twins. Divorced and diagnosed in July with late-stage breast cancer. Undergoing chemotherapy treatment in order to shrink tumor prior to surgery. Unable to work due to side effects of treatment. Even with state benefits, family is near destitute. IBCERF (Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund) grant awarded, August 19, 2012.
A., an Israeli Arab woman from the north, with 3 young children, 1 with Down’s Syndrome. Married, husband lost his job within the last year. She had been the sole family support, working as a beloved member of the nursing staff at a large Israeli hospital for many years, until she was diagnosed with breast cancer that required a mastectomy, in July. She will begin chemotherapy soon. The entire department where she works helped her with her application. IBCERFgrant awarded, August 19, 2012.
I, Ella, received from you, from the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, a check, by way of the ESRA Welfare Fund.
I wanted to tell you, thank you very much!
This will help me a great deal with my finances, with medications that are not covered by insurance, with the many bus trips that I take to get to my treatments and the many things that are very essential in treating this illness.
I was so happy to receive the check!
Thank you very much!
אני, אלה, קיבלתי מכם, מקרן שרי מנדס, צ’ק (דרך וועדת הרווחה של עמותת עזרא).
רציתי לומר לכם תודה רבה!
זה יעזור לי מאד לכלכלה, לתרופות שונות שאין להם כיסוי,
לאוטובוסים הרבים שאני לוקחת כדי לבוא לטיפולים
ולעוד הרבה מאד דברים שנחוצים לי מאד בטיפול במחלה.
מאד שמחתי על קבלת הצ’ק!
From lemons to lemonade
How one breast-cancer survivor is helping other women battle the disease with The Lemonade Fund.
“To be ill and also suffer from poor financial conditions is extremely difficult,” Jennah wrote to the fund’s founder, Shari Mendes of Ra’anana. The grant enables her to visit her siblings when she needs them, purchase treatments for her chemotherapy side effects, and also buy her daughter books for school.
“This donation… gives me peace of mind and strength to continue to cope,” Jennah wrote.
Mendes firmly believes that easing the financial burden of breast-cancer patients also helps them heal.
“When you’re stressed about money, it’s hard to get well. If you could be calmer about your financial situation it could impact recovery. I think this helps just like medicine helps.”
Mendes inaugurated the fund on August 7, 2011, precisely 12 months after a routine mammogram revealed what turned out to be early-stage breast cancer.
“I received the news that I had breast cancer on the Ninth of Av, one of the saddest days of the Jewish year. It seemed fitting to do something positive on the one-year anniversary of my diagnosis – specifically on a day that addresses ways to heal after destruction,” says the architect and mother of four.
During a year of treatment that successfully put her cancer into remission, Mendes wondered how financially strapped women were managing the costs of the disease.
“I remember during the beginning of the process, being astounded at the ancillary expenses,” she says.
“I was lucky because I had disability insurance, but many women don’t have any cushion. It is expensive to be sick. You and your spouse lose time from work.
Maybe you need extra child care and cleaning help, and perhaps you have to buy prostheses and a wig, and medications that aren’t covered by [national health insurance].
“There are a million things, and I thought people shouldn’t also have to be in a financial crisis when they’re enduring the worst stress they’ve ever been through. I can’t help cure their cancer, but I can help alleviate their financial burden.”
Mendes talked to other women and to social workers at hospital breast-cancer centers, coming away convinced that nothing like what she envisioned existed in Israel. The Israel Cancer Society, for example, gives NIS 1,000 grants, and another fund aids Ethiopian immigrants suffering from cancer. Mendes wanted to give a significant amount, and specifically to those with breast cancer.
“We definitely saw a big need, because all the existing funds are very small and sometimes it takes a while for the money to arrive,” says Amalia Magen, head social worker at the Breast Center at Meir Medical Center in Kfar Saba, where the fund’s first five grantees are patients. “This fund came really exactly in time.”
“A woman who needs something like breast reconstruction must come to the hospital many times over a few months, and in the meantime she cannot move or function well,” she explains.
Grants range from NIS 1,000 to NIS 4,500, depending on need. To keep administrative and overhead expenses to nearly nil, Mendes incorporated IBCERF under the umbrella of the Herzliya-based non-profit ESRA (English Speaking Residents Association) Welfare Fund. Only two months later, with the help of NIS 50,000 she raised through a single e-mail blast to acquaintances and family, she was in business.
Very quickly, word of the Lemonade Fund spread, and applications are coming on behalf of women from all walks of life – Jews and Arabs, new immigrants and longtime Israelis. Breast cancer is the most common type of cancer in Israel, with about 4,000 new cases every year.
Seeing that the need is greater than she anticipated, Mendes is now appealing for funds more publicly.
“Hospital social workers all over Israel have learned about the fund, and when a patient is desperately poor they urge them to apply. Many of these women are single with children, and they and their families suffer tremendously due to the additional burden of a serious illness.”
Adele Hunter, head of ESRA’s Welfare Committee, explains that ESRA has been giving to Israel’s needy for more than 20 years through social-welfare departments.
A committee comprised mainly of retired social workers screens applications every month.
“Shari’s fund is run along the same lines,” says Hunter. “We invite Shari to review the applications that come in from oncology department social workers.
Together we decide which ones meet the criteria and how much we can give.”
Mendes devised a rigorous application process, open only to those in their first year post-diagnosis.
“It’s important to me that it be transparent,” she says.
“We’re giving grants, not asking for money back, so we really need to vet the applications.”
Those who are accepted get a check a week later, and their hospital social worker receives a letter with all the details.
Magen says up to 30 women are diagnosed with breast cancer each month at Meir alone. She sends IBCERF applications only for women in the most severe straits.
“Now I have a 46-year-old woman who has four children – one with special needs – and an unemployed husband, and her salary was feeding the family.
Now she has to go through breast surgery and chemotherapy, and I’m so happy to tell her that maybe Shari Mendes can help her immediately – not only when the effects of the chemo get bad.”
Another Meir Medical Center patient, a lowincome, 32-year-old mother of a toddler and an infant, was diagnosed during pregnancy and is now facing a mastectomy. “She got help from the Lemonade Fund, and she didn’t know how to get through this otherwise,” says Magen. “The grants also help their spirits, to know someone wants to help them.
This has a big psychological impact.”
Mendes’ nickname for IBCERF refers to the philosophy of making sweet lemonade out of the sour lemons one receives in life. “I like the name ‘Lemonade Fund’ because that’s the message we try to transmit,” says Magen. “You have a great crisis, but from this you can rise above and realize the support you have, including your own strengths to cope. The fund can help you see a new opportunity.”
“Shari’s got a very open heart and really wants to make a difference,” adds Hunter. “If she had more money, she’d give more money.”
Mendes can be reached at email@example.com or through the IBCERF page on Facebook.
If you know of a woman in need, contact Anat at ESRA 011 972 9 950 8371, for the application forms.
How to donate:
Tax Exempt Donations in Israel: Mail checks to ESRA, POB 3132, Herzliya 46104 or telephone the office and make your donation by credit card (09-950-8371).
Tax Exempt Donations from the U.S.A.: Donations can be made through the PEF Israel Endowment Fund, 317 Madison Ave., Room 607, New York, N.Y. 10017, Tel: (212) 599-1260. Checks should be made payable to “P.E.F. Israel Endowment Funds.” Designate check to IBCERF.
Tax Exempt donation from the United Kingdom: Donations can be made through the New Israel Fund, 26 Enford Str., London W1H 2DD, England, Tel: 44-20-7724-2266, Fax: 44-20-7724-2299. Checks should be made payable to “New Israel Fund.” Designate check to IBCERF.
To the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund (IBCERF):
When I received the difficult news that I had a serious disease, I felt complete destruction. I experienced how in one moment my world crumbled, my home was destroyed, my body – wrecked. I felt as if the last few grains of sand were slipping through the hourglass of my life.
After the initial shock, the words of encouragement that surrounded me began to take hold in my heart. I understood that there was hope, that the matter was not final, that it was up to me to fight a difficult war which I had to win.
In this fashion I set out – with a feeling of hope. I received a plan for recovery; a path to win the war. A difficult path, painful and long, but one that I knew I had to take.
But when I looked at the plan I saw that it cost money…lots of money! And I am just subsisting on a meager pension, where am I going to get the money needed for the fight of my life? Where will the money come from for transportation, for medicine? From where?
I lifted my eyes to heaven, and I said a silent prayer, “God, you gave me a disease. Now give me the power to fight it. Help me!!!”
And then there you were, this amazing organization. Like faithful messengers of God, you awarded me a sum of money, a ray of light in the darkness, a respectable sum that was sufficient for me to begin, a sum that gave me hope that I’d have the strength for my personal war, and that God would help me.
And really, I gathered up all of my strength, and went out to face the fight of my life, and I fought. And here I am now marching toward the first steps of victory, feeling that life can be given anew, that one can be given another chance.
So no, I will not be able to forget this first push, this first step that you gave me, IBCERF, in your financial support that you granted me that enabled my first step toward winning.
I thank you from the bottom of my heart. I will never forget this.
“Anyone who saves a single soul of Israel, it is as if he has established an entire world.”
With honor and appreciation,
לכבוד הארגון קרן החרום לסיוע לנפגעות סרטן השד בישראל:
כשהתקבלה הבשורה הקשה שחליתי במחלה, הרגשתי תושת חורבן. הרגשתי איך ברגע אחד עולמי חרב, ביתי חרב, וגופי חרב. הרגשתי איך שעון החול של חיי מתיל להוריד את גרגיריו האחרונים.
אחרי ההלם הראשון, התחילו לחלחל אל ליבי מילות העידוד שקיבלתי מסובביי. הבנתי שיש תקוות ,העניין אינו סופי, עלי לצאת למלחמה קשה שבה אני חייבת לנצח!
כך יצאתי מתחושת חידלון ומלא תקווה. קבלתי את תכנית הבראתי,את הדרך שלי לצאת למלחמה. תכנית קשה, כואבת וארוכה, אך דעתי שאני חייבת לצאת לדרך.
אך בהביטי אל תוכנית ראיתי שמלחמה זו עולה כסף – והמון כסף! ואני הרי מתקיימת מקצבה זעומה, ומאין אביא את הכסף הנדרש למלחמה זו על חיי?! מאין אביא את הכסף לנסיות לתרופות? מאין?!
הרמתי עיני לשמים, ואמרתי בתחינה: “ריבונו של עולם, נתת לי מחלה, נתת לי גם כוח להילחם בה. עזור לי!!!”
אז הגעתי אתם, ארגון נפלא,כשליחים נאמנים של ה’ והענקתם לי סכום כסף, קרן אור בחשיכה, סכום מכובד שהספיק לי להתחיל, סכום שנתן לי תקווה שהנה גם את אמצעי לצאת למלחמה יש לי, וה’ יעזור לי.
ובאמת אספתי את כל הכוחות הנפש שלי, יצאתי למלחמה הגדולה על חיי, ולחמתי. והנה עכשיו אני צועדת את צעדי הניצחון הראשונים רגישה איך חיי ניתנו מחדש, קיבלתי עוד הזדמנות.
אך לא, לא אוכל לשכוח שאת הדחיפה הראשונה, את הצעד הראשון, ונתתם לי אתם.
ארגון קרן החרום לסיוע לנפגעות סרטן השד בישראל, בתמיכתכם הכספית הענקתם לי צעד ראשון לניצחון. אני מודה לכם מקרב לב. לא אשכח זאת לעולם. “כל המציל נפש אחת מישראל כאילו קיים עולם מלא.”
בהערכה ובהוקרה, זהבה
Welcome to the IBCERF, the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund, otherwise known as the Lemonade Fund.