Sunday, 11 July 2010

The Dream Machine - Saving a Jewish Life

Imagine being Jewish – practically alone – living in Poland, surrounded by non-Jews. There's no shul nearby, no Jewish community and almost no practical way of observing Yiddishkeit. But you still continue to – because life circumstances have brought you there, and you are unable to leave. Your only real resource to the outer Jewish world – is your computer. You even use it to learn Torah online. You also use it to keep in touch with others through Facebook and the like.

Now, imagine that this is you – and you become severely sick. Imagine suddenly being struck with the "C" disease (G-d forbid,) and still stranded! But that's not all. Your breathing becomes worse and worse each day, as you almost have to gasp for breath with each breath you take. You have no money, and don't even know where to turn for real medical assistance. Imagine looking online and seeing the variety of oxygen machines available at a "nominal" cost, but having no way to purchase this machine. It sits in a box achieving nothing – while you continue to gasp for air. 

Imagine asking for help from others, and being questioned, "What would a Jew be doing in Poland?", or even better, "There's no need for us to help… ask the organisations in Poland for help." Imagine being poked and prodded at with a variety of questions that do nothing more than make you more ill?!

The story is real. When Chaim turned to us, we skipped the formalities. We understood his situation and pushed forward within moments to raise the sum of money needed to purchase the oxygen concentrator – the machine that had up until then – only been in his dreams. This machine would allow him to breath and live normally again.

Without delay, we set up a page on our web page, exclusively devoted to raising the necessary funds to purchase the machine in Poland itself. We advertised on Facebook and a variety of Internet newsgroups for people to contribute – and the donations came in generously! Within two days, the entire amount was raised! Calls were placed between ourselves and the store in Poland to arrange for purchase. Money was sitting in our Paypal balance and would only come through some 10 days later. Time was too short to waste on a week of waiting. 

Fortunately a friend came through for us, having a bank account with the same bank as the store – and was able to make a direct transfer using his own cash – being prepared to wait for our Paypal funds to be cleared and then deposited into his account.

Due to a slight delay (the delivery person had left work 10 minutes early!) the order would only be processed on Friday – meaning that the machine could only arrive (from 700 kilometres away) on Shabbat day! Immediately we asked a Shaila from a well qualified rabbi who instructed us in the correct approach to take in this literal life saving operation – and how to accept and get the machine working on Shabbat in a way that the Halacha would allow for.

Indeed not only was everything followed to the letter, but it was due to the kindness of non-Jewish neighbours that the machine was accepted and set up, giving Chaim the ability to breath again!

Chaim's redemption is not yet complete. He is still in need of regular assistance.

Chaim's situation is frightening – because it can happen to anyone. What would we be feeling if we found ourselves in such a suffocating situation?! Would we appreciate the poking and prodding of others and the countless questions as to why we hadn't lived our lives correctly in the right places around the right people?! Would we want some sympathy and kindness to help us out and free us?!

Chessed Ve'Emet is an organisation devoted to helping people in great genuine need. Join us in acts of goodness and kindness – together!


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