Frum Woman Donates Kidney to Save Teen’s Life


kidney-donationCherry Hill, NJ – Jennifer Rothstein believes in practicing what she teaches. The Cherry Hill resident, a part-time instructor at Kellman Brown Academy in Voorhees, will provide a shining example of that today.

This morning, she will give the precious gift of life by donating a kidney to a Brooklyn, N.Y., teenager. Sofia Manfredi, 13, suffered kidney damage during a traumatic birth. Now that she is reaching adulthood, her undersized kidneys can no longer support her growing body. The seventh-grader at Brooklyn Studio Secondary School began evaluation for transplant in June.

“When I heard there was a girl who needed a kidney from someone with Type O-negative blood, I just knew it was the right thing to do, especially because of the environment I work in,” said Rothstein, 39.

Rothstein, married to a member of the New Jersey Air National Guard and mother to two sons, was to report to New York-Presbyterian Hospital at 5:30 this morning to be prepped for surgery.

She will be back home on Thursday and will take two weeks to recuperate. Her recipient will spend a few days longer in the hospital and take up to two months to recover while being home-schooled.

A Cherry Hill resident for the past 13 years, Rothstein is in her fifth year of teaching at Kellman Brown Academy, instructing kindergarten students on how to use computers and helping students in grades one through four with reading. As a teacher at a Jewish day school, she also imbues her lessons with such themes as respect for life and giving back to society and individuals.

She decided to become a kidney donor after reading about Sofia’s plight in August. A Jewish website had put out the call from Chaya Lipschutz, a Brooklyn woman who donated a kidney six years ago and then founded an organization, SaveALife-DonateAKidney, to match donors with recipients.

Lipschutz said it makes no difference if the donor and/or recipient is Jewish, although she uses Jewish social networking to make many of her matches – a numerous amount to date, although she declined to say exactly how many.

In this case, it just happens that Sofia’s mother is Jewish and her father, Michael, is Italian. Rothstein is an Orthodox Jew who attends Congregation Sons of Israel in Cherry Hill.

“Type O recipients cannot receive organs from other blood types, and there were no other matches,” Sofia’s mother, Tami, said. “Jennifer is a wonderful person and this is a wonderful thing she’s doing.”

Rabbi Moshe Schwartz, head of school at Kellman Brown Academy, said there was never a question of whether to give Rothstein the time off.

“This is embodying our mission. Jewish tradition teaches us that saving one life is like saving the world,” Schwartz said.

“All we’re doing is backing up Jennifer’s commitment.”

Rothstein said her husband, Steven, had reservations about her decision at first, but has come on board. Her sons Sam, who turns 16 today, and Asher, 12, support her, as well.

“They expect stuff like that. To whom much is given, much is expected. I told them I was blessed with good health, so there’s no reason not to do it,” she said.

“My husband says I’m always tilting at windmills. Well, this is my latest windmill,” Rothstein said.

{Courier Post Online/ Newscenter}


  1. I can’t wish her enough yashar koach. HaShem should grant her nachas and well being, because she has not only saved a life, but has shown people how much one can give, and do, and that will save all of our lives….b’ruchnius. What a human being, thankyou, I needed to read and know about that.

  2. I’m glad her husband and children were supportive because when I donated I asked a rov and he told me that the condition for him to allow it is if my wife and children support it. (they did)