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Donate a kidney, fulfill a dream

Translation by Yehoshua Siskin

"Shalom Sivan: I, Efrat Bedichi, donated a kidney through Matnat Chaim (Gift of Life), an organization that encourages life-saving kidney donations. Matnat Chaim has a tradition: Each year, all those who have donated kidneys are invited for a team-building Shabbat in a hotel. The coronavirus interrupted the tradition, but not the donations. Just the opposite. In the last year alone, more than 215 people in Israel donated a kidney, without compensation, to someone they didn't know. In total, more than 1,150 kidneys have been donated through the organization. Now the team-building Shabbat tradition has been continued, but because of the hundreds of donators, it was decided to divide them into three groups that would meet on three separate Shabbats.
I have just returned from the first Shabbat at the Kibbutz Lavi Hotel in the Galilee. The climactic moment of this Shabbat always occurs during seudah shlishit (the third meal), before we go our separate ways. Rabbi Yeshayahu Heber, the founder of the organization, would speak with great enthusiasm and make us feel like one family, one revolutionary movement. But Rabbi Heber passed away from the coronavirus, to our dismay. His absence was keenly felt throughout Shabbat, a feeling especially acute when the third meal began.
His wife, Rebbetzin Rachel Heber, who runs the organization today, spoke. With her voice cracking on and off during her remarks, she said the following: "This is the Shabbat during which we transition from the book of Genesis to the book of Exodus. Yaakov Avinu passes away and is separated from his children, but our sages say that Yaakov does not die, since as long as his descendants are alive, he is alive. As long as his life's mission continues, he still lives, he is present in this world." And then she said, "In your merit, all of us feel this way about my husband. As long as his dream continues to be fulfilled, he is with us.
Here is the picture that was taken on Motzei Shabbat. Many people with one kidney and a big smile".


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