When both spouses have cancer… Y., a 50 year old secretary from Haifa, is married with two adult children. Her husband, a machine operator, is currently being treated for lymphoma. In the midst of taking care of him, Y. was diagnosed with breast cancer and now, she, too, is getting chemotherapy. Though their children pitch in, they are having a hard time making ends meet. The Lemonade Fund, an emergency breast cancer financial relief fund, created for just such situations, has awarded them a grant to help them get through this difficult time.
Diagnosed with breast cancer while pregnant… E., a 27 year old immigrant from Mexico discovered a lump while pregnant with her second child. She is now getting chemotherapy even while pregnant. Her husband works as an office cleaner, but he is overwhelmed with the duties of caring for his toddler and his wife at the same time. The Lemonade Fund sent this young family a grant to help them with day to day costs as well as to hire some extra help and we wish E. an easy delivery and a speedy recovery.
To Donate to the Lemonade Fund:
(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.
B., 53, from Sderot, is very ill. She has breast cancer that has metastasized throughout her body, and she will probably stop all treatment soon and enter hospice. Her only income comes from Bituach Leumi (National Insurance) and amounts to NIS 4300/month. The family has decided to move up B.’s daughter’s wedding and has requested assistance with buying B. a dress for the wedding. The Lemonade Fund awarded B. a grant to help her family with this request. We wish B. and her family a mazal tov and we wish B. peace in the days to come.
P., 33, is an immigrant from Romania living in a town north of Tel Aviv. She was recently diagnosed with breast cancer and is undergoing chemotherapy treatments to shrink her tumor prior to surgery. After surgery she will need radiation treatments. P. is divorced with two young children, ages 4 and 7. Her older child is severely autistic and needs extra help, and P. can’t rely on her ex-husband or any extended family. P. told her social workers that she is concerned about money because she had to take a leave from her job as a kindergarten teacher due to the side effects of her treatments. Until now she made ends meet with her income and alimony, but without her job, money is very tight. Bituach Leumi will hopefully provide her with some benefits, but approval takes time, and P. needs help now. The Lemonade Fund awarded P. a grant to help her during this critical time, so she can hire extra childcare and focus on getting well.
Another way to help: The Lemonade Fund is currently providing two young single mothers who are in treatment, in the Sharon area (Raanana and Kfar Sava,) with a Shabbat meal once a week, on Fridays. The commitment is to provide one meal to one of the mothers, no more than once every four months. If you are interested in signing up, please write to: firstname.lastname@example.org. Thanks!
To donate: https://lemonadefund.org/to-donate/
Veronica, 40, a 2012 immigrant from the Ukraine, was diagnosed with stage IIIB breast cancer soon after her arrival in Israel. She is fortunate to have a devoted 16 year old daughter who came to Israel a few years earlier as part of high school program for lone students from the Former Soviet Union (FSU.) Veronica’s plans for learning Hebrew and starting a new life in Israel with her daughter were cut short by her diagnosis. She is in the midst of intensive treatment without Hebrew language skills or any family support other than that of her daughter, who translates for her and assists her mother with all of her needs. Veronica is unable to work and she and her daughter have been living off of her new immigrant benefits which are almost depleted. Social services will provide some assistance, but we at the Lemonade Fund can help this mother/daughter team cope financially during this difficult period in their lives. We wish Veronica a speedy recovery and send love to her and her wonderful daughter. Thanks to all of you who support the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund (The Lemonade Fund.)
To donate to the Israel Breast Cancer Emergency Relief Fund via the ESRA site:
Nothing brings to mind the concept of renewal quite so much as trees. We are witness to their yearly cycle, from death to bloom. For those who are fighting serious illnesses, this act of nature is inspirational. It illustrates the return to health as the primary inclination of living things. It gives hope.
Last week Israel buried a good man. Ron Nachman was the dedicated mayor of the city of Ariel as well as one of its founders. He lost a long, rather public battle against bladder cancer, and prior to his death he spoke about the comfort he found in a nearby hothouse full of plants.
“This hothouse is always blossoming and renewing. It gives you hope for life, for the battle you are waging,”
The Lemonade Fund was founded to keep hope alive in a segment of the Israeli population that is especially weak. Impoverished Israelis, newly diagnosed with breast cancer, are eligible for one-time grants to assist them with the ancillary costs of being ill.
Having a serious illness is expensive. In 6 months a health crises can force a family into bankruptcy or homelessness. Our grants help all citizens of Israel, Jew, Arab and Christian, of any age or nationality, to pay their rent, bills, childcare, travel costs, etc. By quickly and compassionately delivering direct financial assistance, the Lemonade Fund, can ease some of the financial burdens that accompany breast cancer so that patients can concentrate on the more important challenge of getting well.
Coincidentally, the Torah portion that will be read in synagogues tomorrow, Tu B’Shvat, is Parshat B’shalach, and it alludes to the restorative power of trees. As the children of Israel are suddenly terrified by a lack of drinking water in the wilderness, God shows Moses a tree. Moses throws the tree into the water and miraculously, the brackish water turns sweet. God uses the tree, as an appropriate symbol of rejuvenation, to introduce his role as healer
May God be a healer to all those who are sick, and bless his people Israel, and our land, for a sweet, healthy, peaceful New Year of the Trees.
Chag Ilanot Sameach, Shari
IBCERF (Lemonade Fund):
1. To volunteer or if you know someone who needs to apply for assistance: Send me an email at email@example.com.
2. To donate: (To ensure proper credit, please 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.
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., LondonW1H 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.