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60 hours, $1.5 million, 17,000 people – all for one Jew

Friday, 1 March, 2019 - 8:21 am


This week I watched an incredible outpouring of love on the internet. 

You see, about a year ago, Arele, a young father of two from NYC, went into septic shock. The doctors gave him a two percent chance of survival.

Through endless miracles, he beat the odds, regaining consciousness and reconnecting with his wife and children. But in order to save his life, doctors have no choice but to amputate both his arms and legs and replace them with specialized bionic prosthetic's.

To help cover the astronomical medical costs for his bionic limbs, surgeries, therapy, rehab, and other related expenses, his family urgently needed to come up with one million dollars.

How do you come up with that type of money when you simply don't have it? It’s virtually impossible.

And yet, it worked.

His family set up a 60-hour urgent fundraising campaign to solicit funds from the international Jewish community through a platform called Charidy with a goal of one million dollars.

As a veteran fundraiser myself, I can tell you how difficult it is. Getting someone to donate $100 is hard; raising one million is nearly impossible! And most of all, it takes time. You have to cultivate donors. Get to know them personally. Develop a relationship. Let them see the cause up close so they become emotionally invested. Donors don’t just give money. They want to know that their money will be used wisely, and they want to know the cause inside and out.

A campaign this size is usually only undertaken by organizations with massive databases, like schools, yeshivas, and larger non-profits. But in this case, the fundraiser was for a single person. A simple Jew nobody had ever heard of. No organization, no email lists, no social media followers and no infrastructure.

But when the campaign started, Am Yisrael responded. Boy, did they respond!

Over 17,000 donors contributed more than 1.5 million dollars! That is an average donation of $85.

I have never seen this happen before.

You see, there’s no way that 17,000 people have ever met Arele. Maybe 100 know him well, and if you lucky 200 more have met him. The other 16,700 gave money to an individual they have never, and probably will never, meet. People gave from all over the world: South Africa, Israel, Florida, California, Sydney… from different communities and walks of life: Chabad, Bobov, Belz, Satmar, Litvish, religious, non-religious, Democrats, Republicans, you name it!

Why did they give? Simply because he is a Jew, a brother, a family in distress, and his story touched their hearts. 

This is Am Yisrael, this is the Jewish nation! We may have different opinions. We may fight, and we may argue, but at the end of the day we are one family—a single unit.

In this week’s Torah portion we read about the building of the Mishkan—a sanctuary for G-d. I can think of no better way to build a home for G-d than this outpouring of love from so many Jews all over the world.

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