Ryan Hyman, national director of development for Ezer Mizion, opened the “Evening of Heroes” with two announcements. First, during the month of October, Ezer Mizion’s Bone Marrow Registry facilitated 33 stem cell transplants, saving the lives of 33 individuals from across the US and the world. Second, this past October, a 5-month-old baby girl’s life was saved through the efforts of the Englewood community’s Ezer Mizion donor pool.
Hyman shared, “Ezer Mizion is about partnerships—our partnership with our stem cell donors, partnerships with communities that support our mission to save lives around the world and our partnership with the IDF that has supplied well over half of the potential donors in our stem cell registry. Through our ‘Evening of Heroes’ we hope to welcome new communities to share in our heroic work. We look forward to the day, hopefully soon, that the Teaneck, Bergenfield and New Milford communities will celebrate the saving of their first precious life through their Ezer Mizion community donor pool, which was established at this event. Many thanks go to the co-chairs of this evening, the Grinfelds and the Ratzerdorfers, and their committee for working toward this goal.”
The program commenced with an inspirational rendition of Havdalah by renowned singer Shulem Lemmer. “I perform for many charitable organizations but it is rare that I feel as connected as I do to the work of Ezer Mizion,” he said. Lemmer performed his world-famous “A Million Dreams,” to the delight of the audience.
At that point, well-known radio host and Jewish personality Nachum Segal took over. He noted that when Ezer Mizion began in 1998, it hosted 6,000 stem cell registrants. Today, since the participation of the IDF, beginning in 2005, the registry hosts over 1 million registrants. Joining the program were two IDF graduates, Yair Monzon and Uria Shaul, who were swabbed as they were recruited and years later were identified as matches for two young children battling virulent cancers. In both cases, their stem cells saved the lives of these children.
Shaul shared, “We must be grateful for our pasts but always pray for our future, and for the successful future of Ezer Mizion.”
A further remarkable moment of the evening was when Ezer Mizion facilitated the first-time reunion of a stem cell donor and her recipient. Adi Peri of Givatayim, mother of two young children, was flown in to meet with the individual who was the recipient of her stem cells two years ago. The emotional reunion between Yoni Steinberg, a father of eight, whose treatments for a rare lymphoma were unsuccessful until Ezer Mizion came through with the life-saving stem cells of a young Israeli mother, was unforgettable. Adding meaning to the match is that Peri was swabbed 10 years ago during a 24-hour marathon swabbing event in Tel Aviv and across Israel during which 64,000 “heroes”—the world record for the largest-ever bone marrow drive—came out to be swabbed to save the life of young Amit Kadosh, who was cured along with many others including Steiberg.
A video featuring yet another “miracle” facilitated by Ezer Mizion was shown. A donor pool created by George Rohr and family in memory of his mother was responsible for supplying the stem cell transplant that saved the life of Simcha Fund’s grandson, Avichai. The life-saving transplant coincided with the yahrzeit of Rohr’s mother on the 10th of Cheshvan. The “Evening of Heroes” took place just one day after her yahrzeit, on the 11th of Cheshvan.
To top off the evening, Segal conducted an interview with New York Times op-ed columnist and associate editor Bret Stephens. Amidst the current, dangerous climate of virulent media anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism, Stephens too is a “hero,” offering a voice of sensibility and fairness. Having served as editor-in-chief of the Jerusalem Post, Stephens is well aware of the complicated challenges facing Israel from its Mideast neighbors. He views Israel as “an asset to its neighboring countries and a model of humanity and success.” When asked about the threat of anti-Semitism in the U.S., Stephens responded that “American Jews do not have the luxury of deciding which enemy is worse, anti-Zionists or anti-Semites. We must be vigilant on both fronts.”
Chana Mindy Herskovitz has served as the executive director of Ezer Mizion in the U.S. for 19 years. She shared, “Ezer Mizion has impacted upon our family life. It has enabled us to always be involved in chesed, always to be on the giving end.”
To join the Teaneck, Bergenfield, New Milford community donor pool, visit emheroes.com/partner. Every stem cell swab costs just $50 and your sponsorship of one or more swabs could be the swab that saves a life.