The subject of kidney donation, and more specifically, two Jewish participants from very different walks of life, is explored in a new documentary, Match Made in Heaven. According to a report last week by the Jerusalem Post, the film focuses on David Solomon, a 68-year-old Conservative Jewish Newark resident suffering from kidney disease, and burdened with a rare O-positive blood type that complicated finding a matching recipient. Though Solomon had resigned himself to dialysis treatments and wondered whether he would survive to see his daughter married, help ultimately arrived from an unexpected source.
That help was from Yosef Leib Bornstein, a U.K. native and 42-year-old member of the Ger Hasidic sect. According to Jerusalem Post, Bornstein notes in the film that his altruistic act was inspired by his deep-rooted appreciation for the importance of saving a life, a principle derived from the Talmud.
“All our life we learned that to save someone’s life, it’s like you save the whole world,” Bornstein observes. “People want to do something, even if it’s really hard… It’s about saving someone’s life.”
Bornstein volunteered to donate after learning of Renewal, a Brooklyn-based non-profit founded in 2006, whose kidney donations come primarily from the Hasidic community. On its website, Renewal states that its “ultimate goal is that no one in need of a kidney transplant should wait longer than six months to find a donor.”
The organization writes that its waiting list is comprised of people “from all walks of life, and of all ages. Men, women and children ranging in age from a five-year-old child to a 73 year old adult. They are from all parts of the world, including the USA, Canada, Israel as well as England and Brazil. They all wait for that call that a match has been found.”
The organization adds that, while it has had a high success rate, donations remain in high demand.
“Each year, 8 percent of the patients on the national list die waiting for a kidney,” Renewal states. “If you feel that this is something that you can do, it would be a great mitzvah indeed to help any one of these patients.” The organization also offers referrals of doctors, dialysis centers, and hospitals, and has published a guide explaining the kidney donation process.
As for Match Made in Heaven, the film is produced by Jew in the City, an organization founded in 2007 by Jewish outreach professional Allison Josephs to break down negative stereotypes about Orthodox Jews.
On its website, Jew in the City notes that “most non-Orthodox Jews and non-Jews have a very negative perception of Orthodox Jews and Judaism. When they think of Orthodoxy, words like backwards, repressed, outdated, sexist, and anti-scientific often come to mind. Scandals that reinforce these misconceptions hit the papers all too often. Popular movies, books, and TV shows repeat negative stereotypes about religious Jewish people and their lifestyles. (The hole in the sheet, anyone?)”
To remedy the problem, Jew in the City says its goal is to “break down stereotypes about religious Jews and offer a humorous, meaningful look into Orthodox Judaism.” The organization claims to be “reshaping the way society views Orthodox Jews and Judaism through social media, corporate cultural diversity training seminars, lectures, and consulting services. The JITC team publicizes the message that Orthodox Jews can be funny, approachable, educated, pro-women and open-minded—and that Orthodox Judaism links the Jewish people to a deep and beautiful heritage that is just as relevant today as it ever was.”
By: Menachem Rephun