Saturday, February 29, 2020

On May 19, at 10 a.m., Chabad of Teaneck will host a Renewal kidney donation awareness event, with swabbing opportunities for Jay Gittleson, a former Teaneck resident who has been on dialysis since March of 2017. Those swabbed will also have the option to determine if they are a match with others in the Renewal database. Renewal, a Brooklyn-based Jewish nonprofit organization dedicated to assisting people suffering from various forms of kidney disease, facilitates altruistic kidney donations.

Kidney donor and Teaneck resident Susie Fenyes is organizing the event. She shared that a close friend of hers started the testing for donating a kidney to Gittelson, but was not a candidate for donating. The news was disappointing. “I asked to be connected to Jay to see if I could help in any possible way. I was put in contact with Jay and informed him about Renewal. Jay literally was in tears when he heard about the great work of Renewal,” she explained.

“Jay has been on dialysis for over two years. He is so looking forward to the day when he can enjoy a great quality of life with his wife and daughter without being exhausted from dialysis treatments,” Fenyes said.

At the event, Rabbi Josh Sturm, Renewal’s director of outreach, will speak on “The Anatomy of Kindness.” Rabbi Sturm told The Jewish Link that 16 transplants have happened since November of 2017, as a result of the Teaneck Renewal Awareness Shabbos and melave malka, at which time members of the community were swabbed. “As a result, the Teaneck community is one of Renewal’s largest, in terms of number of kidney donors,” he said.

Teaneck Chabad’s own two-time donor, Executive Director Rabbi Ephraim Simon—who donated a kidney years ago and then, earlier this year, a lobe of his liver—will also share his inspiring story. “If more people realized how minimal the risk and surgery is to donate a kidney and the incredible reward there is in saving the life of another human being, I think people would be lining up out the door to donate,” Rabbi Simon told The Jewish Link. “This is especially true in light of the terror attacks in Pittsburgh and Poway. Where our enemies seek to destroy life, what greater response can we have than to save lives and bring more light and life into the world?”

Gittelson is a graduate of Teaneck High School and Fairleigh Dickinson University’s Teaneck/Metropolitan Campus (BA and MA). After teaching in New York City schools for seven years, he founded “A Vision in Motion Speakers Bureau” in 2002, a unique speakers bureau that specializes in presenters who have overcome tremendous personal adversities and now inspire and positively influence the lives of others. He is married to Ellen, a speech therapist for the Rutherford Board of Education, and father of Lizzie, who is graduating high school this June.

Light refreshments will be served. Learn more about the work of Renewal at https://www.renewal.org/

By Elizabeth Kratz