Pamela Bielak, like Ellen, found herself frequenting hospitals as the mother of premature twins. One in particular has ongoing health concerns and she often spent long hours in hospital waiting rooms with restless children who had nothing to do. While actual patients had playrooms, their siblings did not. Fueled with the belief that “if you see an issue, you take care of the issue,” she launched Crafting for a Cure, a charity that provides crafting kits to keep both patient and sibling happily distracted and occupied. Pamela, with the help of high school volunteers, currently ships thousands of these kits from her home to over 50 hospitals in Canada and the United States.
Rebecca Lambert, originally from Washington, D.C. like the Maccabees of yore, saw a need to help the Jewish people hold onto their spiritual heritage, To that end, she and Aish Rebbetzin Lori Palatnik, co-founded, along with several of her students, the Jewish Women’s Renaissance Project. Their belief is that when you inspire a woman, she in turn inspires her family, who in turn influence other families – soon you have a community that has embraced their Jewish roots and the ripple effect continues. Thousands of women and children have been brought to Israel, in what can be described as “Birthright for mothers,” and they return eager to share their enhanced awareness of their Jewish identity.
Like Rebecca, Nancy Weisbrod saw the need to help anchor Yiddishkeit in her community. She and her husband Stephen were involved in home study groups and felt there should be a central “headquarters” for learning, for davening, for welcoming those who were curious about their heritage, as well as those who wanted to share their knowledge and expertise. Thus the renowned Village Shul was created. And the “welcome mat” is there for everyone.
Guest Speaker Nitsana Darshan-Leitner is a 21st century, female version of Matityahu. A lawyer and founder of Shurat Hadin Israeli Law Center, she and her dedicated staff have taken on an army of terrorists, not with swords or arrows, but financially, via international courts of law. She has successfully sued terror organizations and the banks and businesses that fund terrorist activities. She does so on behalf of those murdered and disabled by terror and their grieving, bereft families.
Rebbitzen Palatnik remarked that everyone should “take responsibility, even if the odds are big. To stand up despite your weaknesses and failures.” It is a mandate these heroic women have taken to heart. It is the eternal message of Chanukah.