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December 9, 2016 / 9 Kislev, 5777

Posts Tagged ‘Reuven’

President Reuven Rivlin’s eulogy at the funeral of Israel’s Ninth President Shimon Peres

Friday, September 30th, 2016

“Laugh and play with my dreams, I am the dreamer who wanders. Play because in man I will believe, and I still believe in you.” So wrote the poet Shaul Tchernichovsky, and so you played, our dear President, during the uplifting moments of elation, in times of difficulty and crisis, and with the small joys of day-to-day life, “because in man I will believe, and I still believe in you.”

I am speaking to you today for the final time Shimon, “as one President to another”, as you would say each time you called to offer strength and good advice. As I speak, my eyes search for you, our dear brother, our older brother, and you are not there. Today you are gathered to your forefathers in the land which you loved so, but your dreams remain, and your beliefs uninterred. As one man you carried an entire nation on the wings of imagination, on the wings of vision. The “Brave son”, was the pseudonym you chose as a youth, as the name of Isaiah the Prophet, a visionary. Yet, you were not only a man of vision, you were a man of deeds. Like you, I was also born into the Zionist Movement in those decisive years between vision and fulfillment. I was fortunate to look up to you as a partner in the building of the State of Israel from its very foundations. For both of us, the State of Israel could never be taken for granted. However, with much thanks to you Shimon, for our sons and daughters, for our friends – and yes for our opponents – the State of Israel is an indisputable fact.

You had the rare ability, Shimon, to conceive what seemed to be the inconceivable, and see it to fruition. Your eyes saw far ahead, while your feet covered great distances on the landscape of Jewish and Zionist history. You always walked onward and upward, as a skilled mountaineer who secures his hook before ascending ever higher to the peak. This is how you lived your life. At first you would dream, and only when in your mind’s eye could you truly see the State of Israel reaching new heights, would you then begin to climb, and take us all with you towards the new goal. You succeeded in moving even the most stubborn of politicians, and to melt away even the hardest of hearts of our opponents. You strived until your final breaths to reach the pinnacle of the Zionist dream: an independent, sovereign state, existing in peace with our neighbors. Yet you also knew that true peace could only be achieved from a position of strength, and you were sure to secure the path to this goal. Few among us understand, and much more will be written about how many mountains you moved, from the days of the State’s establishment and till today in order to ensure our security and our military qualitative edge. How deep was your belief in the sacred combination of ethical leadership and military prowess, that Israel must act not just with wisdom, but with justice, faithful at every moment to its values as a Jewish and democratic state, democratic and Jewish.

My dear Shimon, you were the only one in the history of the State of Israel to serve in the three most senior positions in government: Foreign Minister, Defense Minister, and Finance Minister. You are the only one to have served as Prime Minister and as President. It is no exaggeration to say that: more than you were blessed to be President of this great nation, this nation was blessed to have you as its President. In all these roles you were our head, but even more so, my dear friend, you were our heart; a heart that loved the people, the land, and the State. A heart which loved each and every person, a heart which cared for them.

Your stubborn faith in mankind and the good of people – in the victory of progress over ignorance, in the victory of hope over fear – was your eternal fountain of youth, thanks to which you were the eternal fountain of youth for all of us. The man of whom we thought time could never stop. With all your love for history and tremendous knowledge of history, you despised wallowing in the past, or being entrenched in a sense of self justice at the cost of the possibilities and opportunities that tomorrow brings. “The future is more important than the past” you said. “What happened yesterday does not interest me, only tomorrow does,” you would say. The love you received, which transcended political divides in the later years of your life – from your supporters and opponents – was an expression of the yearning of all us to be infected by your unequivocal optimism. Even when we did not agree with you we wanted to believe that perhaps you were right. Believe me, it was not easy to refuse your optimism, and at times your innocence.

Who more than you knew the heavy price of innocence, and yet, who more than you believed that heavier still was the price of mediocrity and being of little faith?

Shimon, I unashamedly confess, on the eve of the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, at your graveside among the graves of the leaders of our nation, also your forgiveness must be asked. We will ask your forgiveness. It was permitted to disagree with you. Your opponents had a duty to express their opinion. However, there were years in which red lines were crossed between ideological disputes and words and deeds which had no place. You always acted according to what you believed with all you heart was best for the people, whom you served.

As President, you were for us an honest advocate. You taught many around the world to love the State of Israel, and you taught us to love ourselves, not to speak ill, and see the good and the beautiful in everything.

This is a sad day, Shimon, this is a sad day. The journey of your dreams which began in Vishnyeva, comes to its end in Jerusalem our capital, which is also a dream which became a reality. Your death is a great personal and national loss, as it is also the end on an era, the end of the era of giants whose lives’ stories are the stories of the Zionist movement and the State of Israel. This is our profound feeling today. A feeling of the end of an era in the nation’s life, the end of a chapter in our lives. Our farewell to you is also a farewell to us from ourselves. When we see world leaders – our friends from near and far – who have come here to bid you their final respects, we understand that not only here but across the world you will be missed. And all of us already miss you. Farewell Shimon. The man whose ‘ways are pleasant, and all of his paths peaceful’. Rest in peace, and act (in Heaven) as an honest advocate for the people of Israel whom you loved so. “Because my soul aspires for freedom, I did not sell her for a golden calf. Because I will also believe in man, in his spirit, his spirit of strength.” Farewell Mr. President.

Jewish Press Staff

For Victims of Abuse – A Warm Embrace

Wednesday, September 19th, 2012

Note from Harry Maryles: I usually take this time on the eve of the New Year to reflect on what kind if a year this was for me. The sudden death of my grandson Reuven who suffered from cancer was unexpected. Although his prognosis was never great, he had defied the odds by living as long as he did. People all over the world davened for him and for that I am still grateful.  But it was not meant to be.

On one unusually warm morning in early March of this year Reuven was taken from us as he suddenly collapsed – never to resuscitated. That was one of the hardest days of my life.  But I am grateful to God for all the blessings he as otherwise given me.  And with God’s help I look forward to a much better year ahead.
 
Aside from that personal note, I am going to relinquish the space I give here to any additional reflection or the Dvar Torah I usually give on Erev Yom Tov- to Rabbi Yakov Horowitz. He asked me if I would cross post an essay from his website on my blog. After reading it, I decided that there is no Dvar Torah that I could deliver that would be more important than his words.
With all the troubles facing Klal Yisroel now, I don’t think there is a single issue more important than the issue of sex abuse in our community. We all know the horror stories the survivors of abuse tell us. And we all too often hear of the devastating consequences they face – some for many years after.
 
In part the altered lives they live are a result of the abuse itself. But it is in part also because of the unfortunate negative reaction to the victims by their own community.  It is to this sad reality that Rabbi Horowitz speaks. The new year is not only a time for reflection. It is a time for change. If there is one thing we need to change as a community it is how we treat victims of abuse.
 
Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all. The following are Rabbi Horowitz’s words.
As we prepare to stand before Hashem in the days to come, and daven (pray) for ourselves, our families and all of Klal Yisroel, those of us who work with survivors of abuse and molestation ask you to publicly show your support for them in these yemei rachamim (days of mercy).
Part and parcel of the strategy employed by many of the predators in our community is to discredit their victims who have the courage to step forward and press charges against them. Typically, the molester will point to the victim’s 1) diminished level of religious observance and/or 2) self-destructive behaviors, like substance abuse, to “prove” his own innocence.However, for those of us who work with at-risk teens, the fact that one of our tayere kinderlach engaged in hard-core drug use, self-mutilation, suicide attempts, or left Yiddishkeit, makes it MORE likely that the accusation is true, not less. Why? Because we have known for many years now that the vast majority of our kids who have descended into the gehenom of these destructive activities have done so because they were molested.Of all the horror committed by predators against our innocent, precious boys and girls, the premeditated and deliberate defamation of their character is perhaps the most unforgivable; since it abuses them all over again and adds to their disconnect from our kehila – when what they need most is our acceptance and love.
With that in mind, I respectfully ask our readers to please stand with the brave survivors and their families who have the courage to take the lonely path of coming forward and pressing charges, with the other silent and silenced victims who are watching the high-profile cases unfold very carefully to determine whether they too should risk going to the authorities, and with all survivors of abuse and molestation.Precisely because the predators attempt to discredit and disgrace the victims and their families, is all the more reason why we need to reach out to them and let them know how much we respect and care for them.Kindly take a few minutes from your busy schedules and post a Rosh Hashana bracha in the thread* following these lines, and have them in mind in your Tefillos. Previous efforts to garner public support for victims were extraordinarily comforting to them, as they help restore their faith in humanity and let them know that the vast majority of our community members are behind them.
Please include your real names and the names of the cities where you live to personalize your message and to send a clear message that we proudly stand with the survivors and their families.
Abuse survivors are our heilege neshamosour holy souls. They have endured unspeakable trauma in their lives and had their childhood cruelly stolen from them, because they learned at a very young age, at the mercy of cunning and evil predators, to never trust again. Nonetheless, the vast, overwhelming majority of survivors seek no revenge or retribution. They only hope and pray that today’s children be spared from the horror they endured.
Regardless of their observance level, we ought to welcome these survivors as full and respected members of our kehilos. We ought to commit to them that we will do everything possible to remove from our community those who prey on our innocent children and speak truth to power if necessary in the coming year to keep all our children safe and secure.If the great tzadik, Reb Levi Yitzchak of Berdichev zt’l were alive, I imagine that he would embrace abuse survivors in his shul on Rosh Hashana and Yom Kippur and proclaim to Hashem, “Master of the Universe, look at these heilige neshamos who have endured so much with such dignity, and in their ze’chus inscribe us all in the Book of Life.”
Best wishes for a k’siva v’chasima tova and may Hashem answer our tefilos b’rachamim u’vrazon.
*Harry Maryles: As always, I welcome all comments to this post. Rabbi Horowitz is also taking comments in the form of Brachos to survivors on his website. If you can, it would be wonderful to get as many readers of this blog as possible to do so. Once again, Ksiva V’Chasima Tova to all!
Rabbi Yakov Horowitz

Routes And Roots To The Truth

Wednesday, September 5th, 2012

The five-year-old boy was in a church in Puerto Rico with his parents. As they and his grandparents were Catholics, that made him Catholic – as far as his young mind could figure.

With an independent mind at such a young age the boy would not do as his parents did, namely bow down to a statue. Looking back decades later, he would say, “It seemed ridiculous” to do. But to avoid his parents’ probable spanking, he had to do something to appear as if he was interested in what was going on. So he moved his lips, pretending to pray.

Child number 10 of 19, he would not eat the pork his mother would cook. He would say later, “All my brothers would eat it and I wouldn’t.”

Why not? Why not just go with the program? Was he just a rebellious kid trying to be different from everyone else?

After many years of seeking his own way, he arrived at some startling facts and recalled certain remembrances. Research into his family background revealed that his ancestors on his mother’s side came from southern France. A key recollection was having seen his mother’s mother light candles on Friday night. When he asked her why she did this, she said she didn’t know.

After more research the fateful day arrived when, at the age of 40, he contacted a cousin in Florida who was also trying to understand his family history. She asked him, “Did you know we’re Jewish?” A short time later he confirmed his cousin’s statement, and after spending some time learning about his heritage he has been living the life of a shomer Shabbos Jew for nearly 15 years.

What a path the life of “Reuven” has taken! Brought up as a Catholic in a very religious home, his goal throughout that time was to search for Hashem. “I wanted the truth,” he said.

He read the New Testament and discovered that some central characters were Jewish but deviating from the right path. “They were trying to deviate from the path,” he said. “No one’s going to deviate from my path.”

The searching and learning processes went on. In the years before learning he was Jewish, Reuven went from being Catholic to being a Seventh Day Adventist in California. He kept learning from their leaders but they could not answer certain questions, raising his suspicions about what they were telling him.

Reuven felt like he was finding the truth when he began studying Jewish sources. “My family was very upset with me,” he said. “Some of them didn’t want to talk to me. I didn’t care. This is my life and I live it as I want. But it wasn’t easy.”

Of course it wasn’t easy. He was leaving behind the very foundation of his life’s first decades. And he was leaving it for what? For the joy of learning that he’d been Jewish all along.

While he lost some contact with his family, he found a new family among the people who warmly welcomed him in Brooklyn. It was there that he continued to investigate even more into his religious roots. And how has he taken to his new lifestyle of religious discovery and commitment? “The best part of being a Jew is that you know this is what Hashem wants.” Quite a statement from someone seeking the truth!

Reuven has faced many challenges along the way. Before ascertaining his Jewish roots, he was married with children – with whom he now has limited contact. In his new setting, rabbis urged him to undergo a bris milah. He complied.

And then there was the significant amount of property in Puerto Rico to be managed (before attempting to sell it). This forced him to live there, cutting him off from being involved in any type of meaningful Jewish life. Shabbos after Shabbos was spent sitting alone in his apartment – davening, eating and learning. But instead of this challenging period being a negative part of his experience, it strengthened his resolve and commitment to religious Judaism.

Things changed for the better and thankfully, over time, this gregarious and friendly man found a small religious community in San Juan. Warmly received there, he now spends Shabbos and other parts of the week in the company of fellow Jews.

Alan Magill

The Hat

Friday, April 27th, 2012

I do not dress like the average Orthodox man in my Brooklyn neighborhood. It’s not that I’m trying to make a statement by often going hatless and wearing blue and brown suits, it’s just that in becoming religious I have changed so much – there are certain things I don’t want to give up, especially since my religion doesn’t truly ask me to do so.

So my fashion sense from years ago lives on and, more importantly, my inclination to try, at least occasionally, to go out of my way to do good deeds – such as visiting people I don’t know in the hospital to offer some words of cheer.

To be sure, I like to dress modestly and in good taste. But there’s a concern I have going back to my childhood, that too much emphasis is placed on the way one dresses – what’s on the outside – and not enough on what’s on the inside.

The first time this topic touched my life was as a 12 year old in a conversation with my friend’s mother when I definitely didn’t prescribe to the saying, “Children should be seen and not heard.” Boy, was I heard in those days, with an opinion to counter any statement that I thought was at odds with the truth.

One summer day, my friend and I went back to his house after playing ball wearing t-shirts and shorts, and somehow ended up in a discussion about the topic of clothes. My friend’s mother at that time commented, “When people are dressed up nicely, they are good people.”

I could not let that statement go unremarked upon. So, hopefully, with a tone of voice that was respectful (I was speaking to someone around 35 years older than I was), I said, “You mean, people who rob banks, if they’re wearing a nice suit, they’re a good person.”

To my surprise, she replied “yes.” In retrospect, she was probably just trying to get my goat, but at the time it added fuel to the fire of my beliefs regarding the importance of the clothes we wear in the total hierarchy of life.

Fast-forward around 35 years. Slowly but surely (and sweetly) I had become religiously observant. When my wife and I got married, I did wear a hat at the chupah because I thought it was important. But for the most part, since then, whatever hat I wear is not of the kind that most religious men in the neighborhood have on their heads.

The most important thing to me is that I get along with people and they get along with me. I am told that I am a friendly enough kind of person that the clothes I wear don’t seem to create a negative impact on the positive interactions I have with my peers.

This feeling of togetherness probably blindsided me to what some other people were thinking about my wardrobe, or at least one other person who I’ll call Reuven. I met Reuven at a shul that is rigorously Orthodox that I attended on Shabbos in order to learn with a friend between Mincha and Maariv. Over the months that I was there I would exchange “Good Shabbos” greetings with Reuven whenever we crossed paths, which was fairly often as it was a small shul.

We never had a conversation of any great importance until one fateful Shabbos afternoon, right before Yom Kippur. As we left the shul after the Shabbos Teshuva drasha, given by the rabbi, people were milling outside and talking. My friend was engaged with someone else and it was then that Reuven approached me – and this time he went beyond “Good Shabbos.”

Reuven said, smiling, “Since this is the head of the year, this would be a good time for you to get something for your head…a hat.” I was surprised and dismayed by what he said. Did he really think that if I wasn’t wearing a hat up until now, that his one statement would get me to change to the way he wanted? Those are the key words – what HE WANTED. He never stopped to consider what I wanted…what was important to me.

More importantly, what right does he have to tell me what I should or should not be wearing? Perhaps if he knew me better and had engaged me in a conversation, it could have come out more naturally. But as it was, all it did was leave a bad taste in my mouth. Rather than respond with a caustic remark, though, another thought entered my mind and I said it. I doubt I would have said it under different circumstances. I don’t push my way of life on to other people. (I figure if I’m doing something of merit, and other people see it, if they like it, perhaps they will emulate it. It more than likely would backfire if I told them they should do it.)

Alan Magill

Shas MK: All Israelis Should Serve Their Country

Wednesday, January 18th, 2012

Shas MK Rabbi Chaim Amsalem, writing in a column for the Jerusalem Post, lambasted UTJ MK Moshe Gafni for his “cynical declaration” that the ultra-Orthodox should not serve in the IDF.

Amsalem wrote that he was “confused and angered” by Gafni’s statements earlier in the week because they had “no basis in Jewish law or tradition, or in basic human ethics . . . they were nothing more than a continuation of extremist haredi policies and politics.”

Amsalem said that “Jewish tradition is replete with teachings regarding the responsibility we have toward one another,” and cited the Bible portion where Moses rebuked the tribes of Reuven and Gad for attempting to shirk combat in order to settle on the eastern side of the Jordan River.

Amsalem added: “I plan to continue encouraging haredim to serve in the IDF while working together with the army leadership to make sure all their needs are met.”

Jewish Press Staff

Help Others Get On The ‘Marry-Go-Round’

Thursday, November 24th, 2011

A new shidduch initiative has created an ear-deafening buzz in frum communities across North America and beyond.  How it works and what it requires from its clients has been the hot topic of discussion at dinner tables, in shul, online chat rooms, at Simchas – just about everywhere two or more heimishe Jews have congregated.

Called the NASI Project, it has generated a storm of opinion as to its merits, its integrity and its potential in solving what has been universally viewed as a shidduch crisis.  Basically, it has been presented as a possible “cure” to the growing “epidemic” of unmarried frum women who are in their mid twenties and beyond. From what I have gleaned, its success in resolving the issue of older single women (22+) is based on the premise that if shadchanim have a greater financial incentive to set up  these girls; if they receive monetary compensation that takes into consideration the more “strenuous” effort they must make in getting dates for these “over the hill” women, then they will be more motivated to take on these challenging cases, instead of focusing on the younger, more in demand “just back from seminary” girls. To that end, older girls will be charged a considerably higher rate than their younger counterparts for shidduchim. Hence it would   cost thousands of dollars more for example, for a 29-year-old female to be set up than for a 20-year-old – since getting a date for the former is considered much more time and labor intensive.

There has been an avalanche of opinions as to the merit, effectiveness and affordability of this project; like every idea or system, there are pros and cons to what its designers have come up with and people will perceive it either as a solution to a vexing problem or something to avoid. The purpose of this column is not to lambaste the idea or praise it – everyone needs to examine it for themselves and come to their own conclusion.

However, one fact of life that the project brings to the fore, and that no one in the yeshivish/modern Orthodox community can dispute – is that with each passing year, the number of never married girls over the age of 25 is escalating, and there is much palpable despair, hopelessness, distress, resentment and anger besetting this population and their families.

We are taught that all Jews are responsible for each other – that we have a moral obligation to help one another. If we see someone floundering, it is incumbent on all in a position to do so to extend a helping hand, be it financially, emotionally or spiritually.

To this end, I feel that every adult in the community needs to get involved to prevent what to some degree should be viewed as an existential threat to our community’s viability – the huge numbers of singles who may never build batei ne’eman b’Yisrael, nor launch future generations.  We cannot afford to have a reduced birthrate due to women staying unmarried well into their child-bearing years.  The Jewish people lost too many millions to a deranged but tragically efficient Nazi genocide. We must replenish what we lost to the best of our ability. Each unmarried daughter of Israel represents a lost opportunity to do so.

At the end of the day, Hashem determines every outcome. Some women and men may never marry and create families. But we must make the effort to help them do so.

And we do so by becoming, to the best of our abilities – shadchanim – (matchmakers)!  

A daunting idea since there are no shadchan schools where we can get a PhS (a Doctor of Shidduchim) – so how do we go about doing so?

Cheryl Kupfer

The Greatest Act of Tzedaka – A Lifesaving Kidney Donation

Thursday, October 6th, 2011

            What was the biggest single donation to Tzedaka (charity) or greatest act of Chesed (personal kindness) in your life? How much of a difference did it really make? Did it change a life? Did it save a life? How do you know for sure?

 

            Contributions to the most noble of causes do not usually go entirely to the advertised purpose. Even when we give Tzedaka to poor people face to face, whom we encounter in the street, or who come knocking at our door, we cannot be sure what they will spend it on.

 

            Even if we invited them into our home and gave them something to eat, we know that after eating from our table, they were no longer hungry, but what will happen the next day, when they will be hungry again, and we will not be there to feed them?

 

            But there is a way to give a gift of Tzedaka that keeps on giving for many years. We can give someone in end-stage renal failure one of our healthy kidneys to carry out the vital functions that his own kidneys can no longer perform.

 

            Medical science has made major strides in treating people with end stage renal disease (ESRD). Periodic dialysis can filter the poisons and waste products out of their blood, prolonging their lives. But ultimately, the only effective replacement for two failed human kidneys is another healthy human kidney.

 

            Fortunately, our marvelous bodies can survive quite nicely with just one normally functioning kidney, while each one of us was born with two of them, including a built-in spare.  Healthy people never really need their second kidney, while for someone with ESRD, its donation literally means the difference between life and death. On average, a patient in end-stage renal failure will live 10 to 15 years longer with a kidney transplant than if they remain on dialysis. Younger transplant recipients enjoy an even longer extension of their life expectancy. Two U.S. teenagers who were among the earliest kidney transplant recipients in 1966 and 1967 are both alive and well today.

 

            Live donor kidney transplantation is often (but not always) an exception to the rule in Halacha which forbids mutilation of our bodies because of their inherent holiness, having been created “b’tzelem elokim,” in the image of G-d. In cases of ESRD, we are dealing with “pikuach nefesh,” saving a life, which, in Jewish law, is often considered to be a compelling reason to permit a normally forbidden act.


 


Dying for a Kidney

 

            Kidney transplantation is a life-saving procedure. Today, nearly 90,000 Americans await kidney transplants, according to UNOS or United Network of Organ Sharing. Each year, 8% of U.S. patients with ESRD die while awaiting the donation of a kidney from a compatible donor. On average, another person is added to the kidney list every 11 minutes, and 18 people die every day suffering from kidney failure.

 

            The primary requirements for live kidney donors today is that they be in excellent health and share the same blood and tissue type as the recipient. While an identical twin makes for the best live kidney donor, advances in the use of immunosuppressive drugs has reduced the risk that the recipient’s body will reject a kidney from any person as a foreign body.

 

            Kidneys can be donated by live donors or taken from the bodies of individuals declared to be dead. However, the overwhelming majority of deaths are ineligible for donation, resulting in a severe shortage of kidneys available for transplant.


 


Take a Number and Wait

 

            Since 1984, kidneys have been allocated by the Organ Procurement and Transplantation Network (OPTN), which was created at that time by an act of Congress to assure that available transplant organs are distributed impartially. The same legislation made it illegal to sell an organ for transplant in the United States. In the case of kidneys, the main criterion for selection is the length of time that a potential recipient has spent on a centrally maintained waiting list.

 

            One option for those who need a kidney transplant, but are unwilling to wait until their name is on the top of the list, is medical tourism. Some travel to China where organs are taken involuntarily from executed prisoners. Others go to countries like Pakistan and India where organ sales are legal. In those countries, organ transplant has become a big business, but the practices there have also been criticized as an immoral exploitation of the poor and disenfranchised.

 

            A living kidney donor in the U.S. may legally specify the recipient of their kidney, as long as there is no direct financial quid pro quo. It may be a family member or friend, or a complete stranger in what is known as an “altruistic” donation. Living donors account for about one-third kidney transplant operations performed in the U.S. today.

 

            A Jewish communal organization called Renewal, which was formed in 2006, specializes in finding living kidney donors for patients suffering from ESRD. Renewal works in cooperation with hospitals and medical teams across the U.S. specializing in transplants, and with the National Kidney Registry, which maintains the kidney waiting list in the U.S., and assures that the established medical and ethical guidelines are followed.


 


Only 1 in 10 Complete the Donation Process

 

            According to Menachem Friedman, the Program Director of Renewal, only about 1 in 10 people who volunteer to donate a kidney actually do so. Some are not deemed healthy enough to safely donate one of their kidneys. Others cannot arrange to take off from work or other obligations for the procedure and recovery. Some prospective donors cannot donate due to objections from their own family members. Renewal also recommends that donors seek clearance from their Halachic authority, who generally has a better understanding of their situation and how the donation will impact the home.

 

            Live donor kidney transplants have been carried out since 1954. There have been many advances since then, including the use of laprascopic surgical techniques, significantly reducing recovery time and scarring.

 

            The kidney transplant process begins with a compatibility test followed by a full medical screening. After all the test results are back, which takes several weeks, the procedure is scheduled. The actual operation usually takes 4-hours, and the donor usually stays in the hospital for about two days. Renewal recommends two weeks of recuperation before returning to a desk job, or a few weeks longer for those with physically active jobs. At times the procedures have to be delayed for months in order to meet the scheduling requirements of donors imposed by their work or family commitments. After recovering from the immediate effects of the operation, kidney donors go on to live normal, healthy lives.

 

            Kidney recipients are required to remain on immunosuppressant drugs to guard against rejection for the remainder of their life. They are also closely monitored to make sure that their new kidney is functioning as intended.

 

            Medicare or other health insurance covers the direct cost of the transplant operation itself for both the donor and the recipient. Renewal covers the ancillary costs of the procedure for donors, such as compensation for loss of wages, convalescence and transportation expenses, which can amount to $5,000-$10,000 per transplant.

 

            Renewal does not solicit donations from the family members of prospective recipients. It does not receive any government funding, and relies on donations from members of the community.


 


Lifesaving Kidney Swaps

 

            The organization arranges for an average of two kidney transplants a month. However, there are still patients in the community who are dying because no suitable kidney donors are available. To accommodate their needs, Renewal has become involved in the newest trend in kidney donation, “swaps,” also known as “paired exchanges” involving multiple simultaneous donors and recipients.

 

            Often times a recipient has an eligible family member who can donate, however the blood types of the donor and recipient are incompatible. When another family with a similar situation comes along, Renewal arranges for a swap. For example, suppose Reuven needs a kidney donor with type A blood, and Shimon needs a kidney donor with type B blood. However, the only potential donor in Reuven’s family has type B blood, and the only willing donor in Shimon’s family has type A. Looked at individually, neither transplant is viable, potentially dooming both Reuven and Shimon to premature death due to renal failure. However, if Shimon’s family member gives his kidney to Reuven, and the donor in Reuven’s family gives his kidney to Shimon, both Reuven and Shimon can be saved.

 

            The concept of a swap was first suggested in 1986, but did not start gaining wide acceptance until the 1997 publication of an article in the New England Journal of Medicine by Dr. L. F. Ross, exploring its ethical considerations. The first transplant exchange in the U.S. was conducted at Johns Hopkins Hospital in Baltimore in 2001.

 

            The logistics required for successful swap arrangements can be difficult to set up. To minimize the element of mutual trust required, kidney swap operations are generally scheduled to be performed simultaneously, to prevent any of the participants from backing out at the last minute. This requires both donors and the necessary medical facilities and personnel all to be available at the same time.


 


Complications and Rewards

 

            In recent years, there have been complex swaps involving more than two pairs of donors and recipients. The first multihospital kidney exchange involving 12 patients was performed in February 2009 by Johns Hopkins, Barnes-Jewish Hospital in St. Louis and Integris Baptist Medical Center in Oklahoma City.

 

            The great advantage of these swaps is that they permit the lifesaving utilization of kidneys from more willing donors who are of the wrong blood type for a direct donation to the specific family member or friend whose life they want to save. This gives these donors another way to save that particular life, by giving a lifesaving kidney to a complete stranger, in what could be seen as the ultimate win-win situation for all involved.

 

            These complex chains of kidney swaps can present significant additional logistical and timing challenges, and much work is being done to streamline the process and make it as smooth as possible. Renewal is working closely with the National Kidney Registry in this area, and hopes to make the first international swap with Israel.

 

            Becoming a kidney transplant donor is not an undertaking to be entered into lightly. But for most donors, it is well worth the inconvenience. Given the tremendous satisfaction they get from knowing that they have given someone suffering from ESRD a new lease on life.

 

            For further information about kidney donation, contact Renewal at its web site, www.renewal.org; email: info@renewal.org; write: 5904 13 Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11219, or call: (718) 431-9831.

Yaakov Kornreich

Printed from: http://www.jewishpress.com/sections/magazine/potpourri/the-greatest-act-of-tzedaka-a-lifesaving-kidney-donation-2/2011/10/06/

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