The Batsheva Dance Company.
(photo credit: GADI DAGON)
► COMPLEMENTARY MEDICINE is often more beneficial to cancer patients than chemotherapy or radiation therapy. The Yuri Shtern Holistic Care Center established by Lena Shtern following the death from cancer of her husband MK Yuri Shtern, has treated thousands of cancer patients – improving not only their quality of life, but also that of their families.
To be able to continue its work, the center, in conjunction with the Batsheva Dance Ensemble, is hosting a benefit performance at the Jerusalem Theater on Tuesday, November 1. The performance will feature Ohad Naharin’s Deca Dance.
► THERE ARE few if any greater experts in Israel on Anusim – or as they are often erroneously called, Marranos – than Gloria Mound, the director of Casa Shalom.
Mound, who has spent decades researching the histories of the Jews expelled from Spain and Portugal more than 500 years ago, has some new findings about Anusim whose ancestors found their way from Iberia to Ireland via France, the Caribbean, Puerto Rico, Colombia and even Malaysia. She will present a lecture on these findings on Sunday, November 6, at 7.30 p.m. in the Zaretsky Hall at Ohel Nehama Synagogue, 3 Chopin Street, at the rear of the Jerusalem Theater and adjacent to the Jerusalem branch of the Israel Bar Association.
Casa Shalom, which was founded by Mound in 1988 and directed by her ever since, is dedicated to helping as many people as possible who suspect that they are descendants of Anusim trace their roots – and in the case of those who are no longer Jewish, helps them to reconnect to the Jewish people if they wish to do so.
To carry out this mission, it engages in research on communities of secret Jews throughout the world. It has received applications from individuals in Spain and Portugal, North and South America, Ireland, and even Singapore and Malaysia. To that end, it organizes lectures and seminars and publishes the Casa Shalom Journal.
Current research projects include an examination of the Bad Arolson archives to determine which of the Spanish nationals who were killed by the Nazis may have been Jewish, and an examination of the evidence among French Huguenots for crypto-Jewish members. It gives guidance to descendants of Anusim, and where possible, helps them if they wish to qualify for a return to the Jewish people.
► WITH THE exception of heart and corneal transplants, where the donors have to be dead, the gift of life becomes as much a joy to the donor as to the recipient.
Yinon Vashdai, 27, of Karnei Shomron, a Magen David Adom volunteer and a medical student at the Hebrew University Hadassah Medical School, was found to be a perfect match for Lirit Karsel, 38, from Kfar Saba, who was in desperate need of a kidney transplant.
Karsel had been suffering for 11 years. Her younger brother David had proved to be a good match but wanted to complete his army service before parting with a kidney. He promised to donate one as soon as he returned to civilian life. Sadly, he was killed in action, and Karsel’s chances of receiving a donor kidney were delayed indefinitely.
Due to her condition, she was unable to give birth, but desperately wanted children, and has two sets of twins born to surrogate mothers. Even then, her condition limited her ability to be the kind of mother that she wanted to be.
Fortunately, Vashdai, who had frequently accompanied kidney patients to their treatments, had a great deal of empathy for such people and was more than happy to not only donate a kidney to Karsel but also to meet her and rejoice with her after the operation proved to be successful.
For the meeting between the two, Vashdai was accompanied by Rabbi Yeshayahu Haber, who was himself a kidney recipient, and heads the Gift of Life organization.
According to Haber, over the past year 126 men and women donated kidneys, and in so doing presented recipients with the gift of life.
Karsel was elated by the prospect of at last being able to live a normal existence and to lift up her children for a cuddle.