It happened four years ago, at the end of a routine workday. Avinoam Laufer, 40, was headed homeward in Petach Tikvah. On the way, he felt acute pains in his head. He stopped his car and understood that he was experiencing a stroke. He managed to summon an ambulance and inform his wife before losing consciousness. The doctors explained to the frantic family that there was no choice but to do surgery to insert a drain, so as to stop the bleeding in his brain. Avinoam never woke up from the surgery. For 17 days he lay in a coma. When the doctors established that he was in a state of brain death, his family was called in to part with him.
“Avinoam lived a life for the Jewish people,” his wife describes. The connection with Ezer Mizion was formed yet in his lifetime, through a project he started with a group of friends, in which, every Shabbat, families would host people who were stuck in the Schneider and Beilinson Hospitals on Shabbat, providing them with sleeping accommodations and meals. In time, the project was named for him: “Eshel Avinoam.” Eishel refers to the tree near the home of Avrohom Avinu (the Jewish forefather) who planted the tree for the benefit of his many guests. The Hebrew word “eshel” – comprised of the letters aleph-shin-lamed — stands for achilah (food), shtiyah (drink), and linah (sleeping accommodations)which were provided both by the tree and in his tent. Using the same initials, the word also stands for Avinoam Shalom Laufer.
Remember doing Connect the Dots when you were a kid? If you did it correctly, you were rewarded with a picture. As adults, we sometimes are also called on to connect the dots but the reward is so much greater. Sometime it can be saving a life!
Here we are at #1, the starting point: a hospital in Israel. We have a cancer patient whose only chance to survive is a stem cell transplant. He needs stem cells from a donor whose DNA matches his. Very hard to find but we think we have one. We just have to do some further testing. Problem. The lab is in Petach Tikvah, Israel. The donor is in Germany. Give up? Of course not! With caring contacts everywhere, Ezer Mizion began to ‘follow the numbers’.
2. We asked Yossi Beinhacker, VP of the Rabbinical Center of Europe if he has any contact in Germany who would be willing to help.
3. Lord Shmuel Aharon Brodman, rabbi of a community in Munich was his choice
4. Lord Shmuel Aharon Brodman put us in touch with Dr. Brown who was happy to draw blood
5. Ezer Mizion immense Linked to Life (a whatsapp network) was alerted to find a volunteer to take the test tubes from Germany to Israel
6. Gadi Cohen answered the call. He will be traveling from Germany to Tel Aviv and will be thrilled to take the test tubes with him but he will not be anywhere near Petach Tikva where they are needed.
7. Second volunteer will be traveling from Tel Aviv to Petach Tikvah. Picture completed! Another Ezer Mizion success story.
More than one life per day is saved by the Ezer Mizion Bone Marrow Registry. Many of these are young parents battling cancer who had been terrified at leaving their children to grow up as orphans. Others are small children who will now mature and raise families of their own. Genetic testing is expensive and it is your generosity that has enabled Ezer Mizion to facilitate stem cell transplants, thus saving so many lives around the globe.
“Absolutely not!” he said. Again and again. Each time the subject was brought up. “No! A thousand percent NO, NO, NO!”
That’s my son. Stubborn as they come. I can’t say I blame him. After all, he’s a teenager and just wants to be like everyone else. He went through a lot, that son of mine. For a while it was touch and go and, at his age, there was no way to hide the situation from him. That’s a pretty scary package for a young boy of eleven to handle. Now he just wanted to be normal. Like his friends. He didn’t want anyone to google his name and suddenly be confronted with a bald replica of his younger self. He wanted to erase that nightmare from his history. Click ‘delete’ and it never happened. A meeting with his donor? Absolutely not! And there’d be cameras. He’d make it on the internet. There for everyone to see. There for him to see. A massive to-do in technicolor, highlighting what he would only want to expunge from his psyche. And so the answer was NO!
A stem cell transplant had been his last chance to survive and, for a long time, there was no matching donor on the horizon. It was only through Ezer Mizion that a DNA match was finally found. As parents, we wanted the opportunity to say thank you to this amazing person who gave his all to help someone he didn’t even know.
Mordechai Shapiro releases a music video for “Nothing in Your Life,” by Abie Rotenburg
Mordechai Shapiro’s latest music video release began months ago, when Abie Rotenburg composed a heartwarming song about the impact of kindness. “Nothing in Your Life” is inspired by the myriads of chessed in our communities — and emphasizes the value of dedicating yourself to help others.
When the team at Ezer Mizion heard a demo track of the song, they knew it was a perfect fit. “Every line talks echoes what Ezer Mizion is here for,” the team explained. “We’re here to help as many Jews as we can.”
Filming the music video is what veteran singer Mordechai Shapiro describes as, “One of the most powerful experiences of my life.” During the shoot, real-life bone marrow donors meet with the recipients of their kindness.
“It was humbling to see first-hand how my small action made such a difference for someone,” one of the donors shared. He had swabbed at a community drive, on a whim, and was shocked when he got the call.
“You’re a match,” Ezer Mizion said. And with that simple action, the man saved another’s life.
“The song is right,” he said. “I don’t think anything I’ve done in my life matches up to this — the chance to save someone’s life.”
SHARE A PIECE OF YOUR HEART: Ezer Mizion, the world’s largest Jewish Bone Marrow Registry, has saved thousands of lives to date. You can save another. Join the registry or sponsor a match at ezermizion.org.
She is only eight years old. Her parent try to smile when she talks of what she wants to be when she grows up. But it’s so hard. You see, Miri is not well and only a bone marrow transplant can save her life. To be successful, a genetically matching donor must be found. With the transplant, Miri will someday become a Mommy. Her children will, in turn, mature and produce grandchildren for Miri – generations…eternity. But without the transplant, …
Ezer Mizion, the largest Jewish registry worldwide has saved the lives of so many cancer patients around the globe. A drive was recently held in NY and NJ where thousands made their way, in the rain, in the cold, to the Ezer Mizion stations in order to ‘Swab for Miri’. As the drive progressed, Ezer Mizion received requests from more precious members of the Jewish nation – two in Flatbush, two in Lakewood, one in Buffalo – who were desperately waiting in hope and prayer for the genetic match that will mean Life.
Jews rallied. Busy mothers maneuvering the crowds with double strollers. Fathers trekking to the stations late at night after Evening Prayers. In twos and in threes. Another and another and another. Thousands! Closing time came and went, virtually ignored. How could we close when more people, so very tired after a long day, were detouring away from a relaxing cup of coffee in a warm home? Instead they were heading toward the still bustling stations to save the life of another!
A woman arrived with two babies in tow. “I never go anywhere,” she told us. “No weddings, no shopping. Nothing. I have a cancer patient at home. I don’t even have the time for basic housework. But for this? To help save a life? For this I just had to come!” “Yes!” we thought to ourselves. “You really understand. The pain. The fear. That tiny glimmer of hope that, at times, seems all but extinguished. A dying spark until Ezer Mizion arrives to fan it into a flame of faith.
Founded in 1998, Ezer Mizion’s International Bone Marrow Registry, is the largest Jewish registry worldwide and has saved the lives of 4,293 patients whose sole chance of survival had been a transplant. Three hundred and ninety-four lives were saved in 2021 alone, more than one per day! Several years ago, Ezer Mizion opened its Stem Cell Harvesting Center, one of the first centers in the world to operate outside a hospital. A full medical staff operates at the Center, including a doctor, nurses, medical technicians, and a Clinic Director, operating according to the strict guidelines and regulations of World Marrow Donors Association (WMDA), which guarantee the quality of the stem cells and ensure the highest standards of performance.
The Registry now numbers 1,130,526 potential donors ready and anxious to donate their stem cells to save a life. It is our fervent prayer that among the many new swabs taken, some will emerge to be perfect match for each of these Yidden and all those around the globe for whom a transplant will mean a Future.
To view heartwarming video of transplants entitled Nothing in Your Life: www.ezermizion.org