December 15, 2008
A Sign of the Times
Until today, the headlines we all have been reading were painful to digest but still somewhat removed. With the collapse of the Madoff investments his past week there has been a seismic shift in the Jewish philanthropic world – something that many agree can never be recovered. Schools, hospitals, universities…it seems as if no one is unscathed by this disaster as the list of casualties rises hourly.
Behind the numbers, though, are real people with real needs that may never be met – and lives that may even be lost. Buried in the news of billions of dollars that have vanished (has anyone noticed that the "new billion" is really like the "old million"? – much like the new age of 60 is really "like the old 50"–numbers have taken on new meaning) are the stories of many non-profit organizations that work hard to improve and save people’s lives. One of the organizations that is reporting potential difficulties is a small but critically important non-profit called The Gift of Life Bone Marrow Foundation. What started in 1991 as a truly grass-roots effort-one family’s quest to find a suitable bone marrow donor for their son and brother, Jay Feinberg, has grown to a vital and critically important institution within the Jewish community. Today, Gift of Life can proudly claim that nearly 1500 people received a match through their efforts and over 125,000 have registered to be potential donors. In recent years, Gift of Life has begun a Jewish cord blood registry which can help save the lives of individuals who have been unsuccessful in finding bone marrow or stem cell matches. With both of these registries in place, Gift of Life has positioned itself as one of the pre-eminent sources of life-saving resources for Jews world-wide. It plays a critically important role in Jewish life today.
With the unfortunate events of the past week, Jay Feinberg and Gift of Life find themselves in a difficult position. While the organization did not lose funds, many, many of its principal donors have been adversely affected by recent events and will not be able to continue the important support that they have so generously offered in the past. We would like to hope that everyone realizes the importance Gift of Life holds to the Jewish community and we ask you to visit their web site, http://www.giftoflife.org/, read about the truly outstanding work they have accomplished and consider a donation to keep that work going. None of us will ever know when or if Gift of Life’s services could be the key to our own survival.