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.
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.
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!