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Journal Entry by Rabbi Shaya Kilimnick — January 1, 2016
First let me express my gratitude to the many who came to the Bone Marrow Donor night. Close to 100 people were there and 80 swabs were collected. I was told that the number exceeded all expectations. Thank you all so much. To Tim and Pat and all those who work so hard for ROC4Israel, and from all over our Jewish community. I hope one day I will be able to properly express my appreciation for all your kindness, love and concern. I am overwhelmed with gratitude.
I know that there are other evenings and venues being organized to conduct a search in my honor and I thank you so much.
This past week several things have changed . I go to Wilmot Cancer Center at Strong every other day for either a platelet infusion or blood transfusion. Having had my first round of chemotherapy , it seems that it's starting to take effect already. This week the blood transfusion wasn't necessary because the number was high enough however I still needed platelet infusion.
On a brighter note , trying to think positive, the New Year 2016 is a good 'gematria'...2016 equals 20+16=36 DOUBLE CHAI....
I received many calls this week from so many , and so many gifts of food from Hillel School and so many friends Lipmans, Sabra and Rochester is "KOSHER SOUP CITY' ...wow!!Thanks to all and even with all the goodies I still lost 15 lbs. We are keeping all the cards and lists of those who have helped and one future day you will receive a thank you card. The staff at Wilmot are all just wonderful
This week also my daughter came in from Israel. Her smile and help makes me stronger. Next week my eldest is coming in from Israel.
I thank my friend for getting a special recliner temporarily which assists me with alleviating the back problems that have challenged me during this period.
Now for the good news. On Tuesday evening when the Bone Marrow testing was being conducted, I received a message from the Bone Marrow Transplant unit. They potentially received a perfect match for me and on Wednesday they called and told us that there are another two potential perfect matches , three in all. To use their expression 'Rabbi this is awesome'. You could imagine the happiness we felt at home laughing and crying... There is HOPE... B'EH
I attribute this to all the prayers, tehillim and the act of kindness displayed by all who came out to have the swabbing. There will be others who will benefit. It takes 4-6 weeks to process. But so many might also be helped on my behalf.
In Pirke Avot....'Lafum Tzaara Agrah', according to the effort is the reward' I believe the outpouring of love and concern for me awarded me these potential donors.
So this is my report for now....Thank you , Thank You , Thank You.... nurses, technicians, doctors, family, friends .....have a wonderful Shabbos and I will keep this positive attitude alive. Also please pray for our friend's mother who is quite ill and for another friend who is in rehab at the Jewish Home and for our doctor friend who recently had hip surgery...they should have a refua shleymah......love....Rabbi Kilimnick
His Child's Commentary & Lessons He Learned from Abba
(written with the style of length of the Beit Yosef)
Abba starts with gratitude. I learned myself to always start with gratitude. When you don't, people get antsy. That means a good forty-five minutes of speech or performance where people are thinking how ungrateful you are. Ungrateful and self-centered e goes by with people think how unappreciative and self-centered Last three minutes, when the thank yous come out, they're cursing at me, saying stuff like 'he's just thanking us because he has to. That selfish...' Because of that nasty response, I sometimes forget to thank people altogether.
Abba is expressing true appreciation, because HaKarat HaTov, recognizing of the good, comes first. Appreciation comes first. If you don't thank them right away, you'll start to see how annoying they are. Thank them before seeing their online comments, before you want to take it back. This is why they thanked all the people coming to the bone marrow donor night, before they were tested, with a 'thank you for coming.' After dealing with all their questions, the organizers were saying, 'Please go.' The organizers with a sense of calmness said, 'Thank you for leaving.'
The bone marrow donor night with a hundred people who cared. That means something to Abba. That ROC4Israel group looked up to Abba, and through that Israel connection, they showed their care. One hundred people showed and eighty swabs. Who the twenty people were that showed and didn't swab. Shame. Maybe the twenty were picketing, staging a protest against bone marrow transplants.
I don't know how Israel advocacy is connected with bone marrow transplants. I can tell you, advocates are good at staging a protest. I can also tell you that Abba's donor was from Israel. I can also tell you that many Israelis are bone marrow conscientious. They care about other people's health. I can also tell you that if ROC4Israel would've raised money and sent my parents on a trip to Israel, with hotels fully covered, that would've also been appreciated by Abba. Sending my parents to Israel would've helped the ROC4Israel cause.
'Properly express my appreciation.' Abba wants to someday give back. He gave a lot to people. I think he already showed his appreciation by trying to be there for all of their life cycle events.
It was a search in Abba's honor, and it hopefully helped other people. Honories very rarely get anything for their being honored. I know that. I was Bar Mitzvahed. The shul made a lot of money off my Bar Mitzvah. I got acknowledgment cards from the shul that people donated in my honor. In Abba's case, a donor came from somewhere else.
It goes to show that if you put out a prayer for other people, you will receive that prayer yourself. That's why I always pray for other people. I am hoping I will reap benefits.
We learn this from Avraham who praise for the people of Gerar to have children, and then Sarah has a child. It's a sneaky move, but it works. And thanks to praying on behalf of other people, the Jewish nation is here. It says nothing about Avraham giving money to Gerar, on behalf of Yaakov. That would be a waste of money, and a depletion of Yaakov's inheritance. To note, I never got money from the shul.
Abba expresses Hakarat Hatov. It's the appreciation of others and gratitude is what makes the world go round, even if you go broke doing it, stuck in Rochester with no trip to Israel.
This is the start of the transfusions and chemotherapy. Going to Strong Hospital every other day now. That's the life. You become connected to it. It's a life separate from the community. It's your backstage. It's where you sit and take the pain, and do it with dignity. And then you show up to work and listen to the board complaining. You show up to the factory and your boss tells you you're late. You show up after a day of chemo, and they have you running errands.
Abba has a positive outlook that it's taking effect. I don't know if it's the chemo. I do believe it's that he doesn't have to see the congregants.
2016 is Double Chai. Two lives. This is Abba going for a second life. For me, 2016 was another year with no woman. The second life concept is one that Abba could turn into a great Dvar Torah. He can make it inspirational. If I said something like that, people would say I was an idiot. When my father said it, it touched their souls. A second life. A second chance at doing Mitzvahs.
Rochester is Kosher Soup City. The Rochesterians are big on sending soup. A lot of food. Everybody sends food. Gifts of food. That's the Jewish tradition. When you hear somebody's sick, you try to make them fatter.
'Thanks to all and even with all the goodies I still lost 15 lbs.' Abba lost 15 pounds. They were sending soup. You can't put on weight with soup.
That was when Abba knew he was sick. When he was started losing weight, he knew there was an issue. He kept it positive with the 'soup city' quote. But he was really trying to tell people to send some decent food. In the beginning, they sent decent food, and then it turned into soup. It had you questioning if it was worth it to not feel well in Rochester.
Keeping the cards is correct. The dining room table is full of cards. We got cards. Not money. I would've been more excited visiting home, if I saw money on the dining room table. Seeing 'Get Better' all over the table had me feeling like I was sick.
My parents were big on thank you cards. I thought it was only for my Bar Mitzvah, where they made me do it. It turns out that thank you cards make all gifts not worth it. I learned that at my Bar Mitzvah.
If you didn't receive a card, know that my dad enjoyed your gift more than if he would've sent the card. Maybe you can calm down, get over it, and chalk it up to the fact that he had cancer. I've got to say, congregants are very needy.
Children coming in from Israel. That always brought joy to Abba. Knowing his kids are in Israel and knowing they're visiting. It was hard to satisfy both at the same time. Nonetheless, each of those brought him Nachis.
Got the special recliner. It makes it all worth it. It's an electric recliner where you don't have to use your legs to stand or sit. It does everything for you. That recliner brought a lot of joy to cancer.
During the Bone Marrow testing, potential matches came in for Abba. I'm telling you, your prayers are answered when you pray for others. Donations won't help you get gifts. But prayers for others help.
They said it's awesome. That's how you know they're from Rochester. Rochesterians always use the word 'awesome.' I do it to this day. They also add a few 'e's to the end of every Jewish word. Challee, Havdalee, Shmatee.
There is HOPE. Hope is the one thing that kept Abba going. Hope, leftovers from before we had soup, and that recliner.
Hope and BE"H (with the help of God) go together. You can have hope when you believe in God. Hope is what keeps you alive. It's your drive. Once Abba had that, he was good to go. Seeing the people come out, and knowing he had a donor, he had so much more strength. I know, because congregants started coming to him with complaints.
There was a lot of emotion in the house. When you see that hope, when there's a ray of light in that dark, you cry. A cry of hope and God's truth. A cry you can only have around the ones you love. Other people would try to figure out what you're crying about, and send you soup.
Abba attributes it to prayer and kindness. The kindness of those who came out to the marrow donor night. They, along with the donor, brought out the hope. And others will benefit as well. It's circular. Everything we do in this world is circular. And that's why you give decent food. Trust me, when you have a fever, you're going to want a meal. Not just matzah ball soup.
Abba takes the Pirkei Avot of according to the pain is the reward, to mean effort. And the effort here is the outpouring of love. I can tell you, that takes effort. It's easier to send soup.
Abba thanks everybody and wishes everybody a wonderful Shabbbat.
And ensures all that he will keep the positive attitude. That of hope. Abba found strength in sharing that hope.
And more Hakarat HaTov to the Wilmot Cancer Center staff. Abba appreciated them more than anybody else. Appreciation added a good fifteen minutes to each appointment. Abba wanted to make sure they knew it.
And then he wishes the other people a Refuah Sheleymah, urging people to pray for their healing.
'They should have a refua sheleymah.' No matter your situation, you pray for others. I put it out there for others, so God will give me what I want.
As Abba would've said it, 'Prayer is not said in a vacuum.' We all affect one another. Abba is teaching the reason for prayer here. We're in this world together. And if there is ever a human being that felt the pain of others, it was Abba. Abba truly cared about other people, which is why he always made sure they were fed. College students, community members, Abba fed people. And now we're stuck getting soup. I'm having a hard time getting over the soup.
Appreciation is also cyclical. Abba gave to the community, and they gave back. It all comes back around to make for a better world. One with more hope. And we hoped for better food over the next weeks.
I have noticed that it's cyclical to a certain extent. There are a lot of selfish people out there. They should know that there is no appreciation for them. There is no appreciation for people who protest bone marrow donations.
When you have Hakarat HaTov, you have hope. When you get a card saying the shul got money in your name, you have nothing. No hope and no money.
If Abba felt up to it, he would've properly shown appreciation by making sure the community had decent food. A full meal. Not just soup.
It was a good Shabbat, with a lot of soup.
Stats: 8 hearts 20 comments
Comments are mostly about the transplant, the match, Nissim (miracles) and Abba back at shul. They want him to work. That's why they want him to get better. To Note: If people cared about matches for single people this much, there wouldn't be so many single Jews. They should have a registry, looking all over the globe, where they do shidduchs based on bone marrow.
They talk about his great Rabbinic leadership. They wish him a full recovery. Not a part of the recovery. If it's not a full recovery, it will be hard to do the job they want him to do for them. For him to properly do the prePesach Kashering of their kitchen, he needs a full recovery. He needs the energy.
They're still looking to him for inspiration. Abba's speech between mincha and maariv was beautiful, touching and inspirational. I remember. Nobody taped it. People didn't care about the speech afterwards. The inspiration was done. They wanted it taped. It turns out that members of the shul need inspiration or a recording. If there's a recording, they don't need to be inspired. It can be filed.
People remember their times in Rochester and Little Rock. If Abba didn't give his all to the people, nobody would care. They wouldn't need him to perform the weddings, or Kasher their kitchens.
Somebody gave a speech about other people caring, and that's why there's a match. If people donated bone marrow without caring, there wouldn't be a match. You need the caring. Another person gave a pep talk about keeping up the spirits. It's all beautiful. They never visited. They were very involved in the spirit of things.
At least somebody wrote a note about happiness. Not just health. Most people are out there praying for health and depression. They want you to be healthy and not happy. 'They're healthy… They're on their own now. Can't stand them...’ Most people aren't about the spirits.
Still a lot of thinking. People do a lot of thinking for people. I don't know if that means prayer. Maybe they're thinking about praying. Maybe it means they were thinking of getting a gift, but decided not to. Maybe they're thinking about how much they hate other people. All I know is that a lot of people are out there thinking, with high spirits, some happiness.
'Wonderful news'? Better news would be no cancer. When things are real bad, anything is wonderful. Surgery is amazing. A joy. You get smacked and tell people, they're so happy. 'He felt it.'
One person calls the cancer an enemy. And likens Abba to being at war. At this point, he doesn't have a lot of energy. But the congregants expect that from their rabbi. Got to go to war all the time. I hope they're not thinking of sending Abba out to battle. Congregants can be extremely vindictive.
They all care.
***For an Aliyas Neshama for רב ישעיה בן יחזקאל זצ"ל and all the Tzadikim who made and continue to make this Olam a great life.
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Health and Healing
Humor, laughter and a positive outlook in the hard times. This includes Torah thoughts by Rabbi Kilimnick and humor from within.
With nursing facilities closed, this guy is trying to figure out why his kids are trying to break into the room, scoping it out. He's asking when his kids turned into a bunch of stalkers.
(Photo: The Guardian)